Andrew C. Revkin, NYTIMES.COM
On July 29, the U.S. Drought Monitor website had nearly 80 percent of California in either extreme (red) or exceptional (brown) drought.
It’s way past time for California to come to grips with the possibility that its extraordinary water woes are the new normal — and essentially the return of the old normal given the state’s climate history, in which drought has been the rule and the verdant 20th century the exception. In the weekly update to the U.S. Drought Monitor site yesterday, nearly 80 percent of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought conditions.
It could well be that atmospheric circulation will shift and the drought, instead of deepening, will abate. (The state can sometimes get far too wet.) Then the challenge will be to find ways to avoid a “shock to trance” approach to water policy.
Hoping for the best works fine if it’s combined with planning for the worst. And the worst is years, even decades, of dry times. Global warming from an unabated buildup of greenhouse gases could drive conditions in the drier direction.