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Arroyo Seco Foundation

News of the Arroyo


Whistling past the climate graveyard





<b>February 9, 2018</b> - Larry Wilson doesn't need his heavy wetsuit to dive into the ocean in February anymore. See? Pruitt is right. Climate change has its advantages.


Larry Wilson


Orange County Register


Photo by Stephen Carr, Daily Breeze/SCNG - A pair of surfers are silhouetted by the setting sun at The Wedge, in Newport Beach on Monday, October 23, 2017.
Nice summer day, what?

It’s the heart of winter.

We were on the heavenly longboard-surfing beach San Onofre all day last Sunday, our regular crew of oldish men (and one woman) at the break called Old Man’s, in shorts and T-shirts and straw, umbrella-big lifeguard hats for the blazing sun. In February. The water was the only thing coolish. But I haven’t had to wear my heavier wetsuit in years, because, well, the ocean here doesn’t get cold anymore in winter, the way it had all my life.

We also haven’t had a frost in my yard on the edge of Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco in years. Until a decade or so ago, several times each January and February frost covered the Arroyo’s floor so deeply it looked like snow. I used to have to cover my lemon tree with sheets to save it from the cold. I don’t anymore.

All very nice for surfers and construction workers. The national weather map on the morning TV news Friday said of the entire Southwest: “Pleasantly warm.” Sure is. People walking into our office building mornings last week said to each other, as they looked up at the sparkling blue sky, “It’s beautiful, huh?” But they said it with a bit of a guilty titter. Smart people know that there’s something wrong. That you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. It’s a lot less fun to live in shorts weather all year long when we know a few months of sweater weather is what we need.

The current Environmental Protection Agency head, Scott Pruitt, now says he thinks climate change is A-OK, because who doesn’t like a little balmy weather. “We know humans have most flourished during times of warming trends,” Pruitt said in an interview with KSNV in Nevada. “There are assumptions made that because the climate is warming that necessarily is a bad thing.”

He used to say that there wasn’t any global warming. Then he said that people had nothing to do with it. Now that it’s apparent that it’s real and human-caused, our environmental boss prescribes whistling past the graveyard. “Do we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100 or year 2018?” he said during the KSNV interview. “It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100.”

But I’m not here to ask if it’s hot enough for you. I’m here to worry about the fact that the drought we declared over after last winter’s freakishly hard rainstorms is clearly not over. Meteorologists now say that 2017 looks like an aberration for California. The long-term AccuWeather forecast for these parts though May predicts a few sprinkles for Valentine’s Day, a shower sometime in April and — that’s it. The most common prediction for every day until summer is “abundant sunshine,” alternating with “brilliant sunshine.”

That’s because the hot, high-pressure atmosphere over the Northern Pacific is not letting any storms in, acting just as it did in the five long years of the declared drought. The snowpack across the Sierra is at 27 percent of normal for Feb. 1, about the same as the historic lows of the 2014-2015 season. Our fishing guide in Mammoth — who teaches skiing in the winters — writes that the winter has been “pretty dismal” up there, and that we should make our date with some catch-and-release trout earlier than usual this spring.

I am told by the official overseeing the American environment that it is arrogant of me to wish for some old-fashioned rain so that I don’t have to deep-water our century-old oak trees in order to save their lives. But with laissez-faire guys like that in charge, what can we say but, “Here’s hoping”?

Larry Wilson is a member of the Southern California News Group editorial board. Twitter: @PublicEditor




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