[env-trinity] SF Gate 09 39 2919

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Sep 30 16:19:45 PDT 2010


San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

 
<http://us.ard.yahoo.com/SIG=163u7cdn3/M=600876506.601020598.410280393.41009
3825/D=ncnws/S=2022775850:AP107/Y=PARTNER_US/L=3e7e11b4-cce8-11df-996f-77d5b
308cb5d/B=uqIdDGKIDKQ-/J=1285888369790131/K=ebQ3_6ypKMWxSoqMvIq8NQ/EXP=12858
95569/A=1762140870526144370/R=0/X=2/SIG=1160hgmlo/*http:/www.sfgate.com/sund
aycontent/> click here

 

 <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/index>
http://cdn.sfgate.com/graphics/blogs/luminaries/gleick.jpg

 <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/index> Dr. Peter Gleick

President, Pacific Institute

Anyone who pays attention to water in California knows that the state is
just getting over (we hope) a serious three-year drought. And anyone who
pays attention to water in California knows that the...

Misusing California water numbers for political purposes: Jobs, fish, and
lies


Misusing California water numbers for political purposes: Jobs, fish, and
lies


Anyone who pays attention to water in California knows that the state is
just getting over (we hope) a serious three-year drought. And anyone who
pays attention to water in California knows that the drought led to very
serious political posturing, arguing, and drama, especially in the Central
Valley.

Indeed, the drought became a cause celebre for some on the right, Central
Valley Tea Partiers, and talk show conservatives, who used it as an excuse
to launch a full-scale assault on the environment of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, legal decisions to restore small amounts of water to dried-up
rivers, and the Endangered Species Act. Late last summer, Sean Hannity came
and held a rally to argue that the drought was caused by politics, not
weather, that tens of thousands of farm jobs had been lost because of
environmental restrictions, and that the agricultural communities of the
Central Valley were being destroyed by efforts to save fish, especially a
small fish called the Delta Smelt, from extinction. The problem, they said
over and over, was we had to choose "fish versus jobs."

Most of what Hannity and other speakers at that rally said was wrong or
misleading, but the two most important pieces picked up and repeated over
and over by the media were the arguments that (1) the drought was caused by
human decisions, rather than the weather (doubly ironic since these same
groups consistently argue that humans cannot be causing climate change), and
(2) it had led to massive job losses in the agricultural sector. The two
major Republican candidates for Senate and Governor in California continue
to use these arguments in their water policy pronouncements. 

The problem is that both claims are false. It was apparent, even then, that
these arguments were at best partial truths twisted around a core of lies,
and I wrote a previous SFGate post
<http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/detail?entry_id=45349>  about
this in August 2009. But new evidence
<http://forecast.pacific.edu/water-jobs/SJV_Rev_Jobs_2009_092810.pdf> now
shows clearly how false those claims were.

What's the real story? A superb
<http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_16208283>  article written
by reporter Mike Taugher, pulls it all together.

In early 2009, Professor Richard Howitt, a UC Davis agricultural economist,
tried to predict the economic impact the natural drought and new legal
restrictions on Delta pumping would have on San Joaquin Valley farms. His
earliest estimate was that these water problems might cost California around
95,000 jobs. Around the same time, Dr. Jeffrey Michael, director of the
Business Forecasting Center at the University of Pacific did a separate
estimate <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/detail?entry_id=45349>
, and came up with a far lower number. After the two of them began comparing
notes, assumptions, and data, Dr. Howitt revised his figure downward several
times. His first estimate, however, was like throwing red meat to lions, and
Hannity and others picked it up and, to this day, continue to use it. A jobs
plan that is part of Meg Whitman's gubernatorial campaign is still arguing
<http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/in_the_news/full_text/view_clip.lasso?id=32540>
that the drought and Delta pumping restrictions might have cost California
95,000 jobs. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina puts the number at 40,000
<http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_16208283> using other
outdated and inaccurate numbers. 

Howitt and Michaels, in an open and remarkable academic collaboration, have
gotten together and produced a joint analysis
<http://forecast.pacific.edu/water-jobs/SJV_Rev_Jobs_2009_092810.pdf> .
Their conclusions?

The early estimates of lost jobs were far, far too high. They now say that
between 5,500 and 7,500 jobs were lost due to the water availability
constraints in the San Joaquin Valley last year, and equally importantly,
most of the blame goes to the weather, NOT to environmental protections.
Indeed, while some individual farmers and water districts with junior water
rights suffered serious impacts, the agricultural sector of the state as a
whole, has had pretty good years even with the drought, because of water
transfers, temporary use of groundwater, improved efficiency, high prices
for some crops, and other adjustments. 

Water Numbers: 1,400 to 3,000 jobs (not 95,000 or 40,000). What do the
economists now think the actual impacts were? One of the economists put the
job loss attributable to environmental protections at 1,400 jobs; the other
(using different assumptions and estimates) put the figure closer to 3,000
jobs. Not 95,000. Not 40,000. In comparison, the economic recession cost the
region 76,000 construction-related jobs.

Watering turf grass in the San Joaquin Valley, summer 2008.

(c) Peter Gleick 2008

Watering turf grass in the San Joaquin Valley, summer 2008.

Even more ironically, taking water from the environment and the fish costs
jobs too, though we've traditionally ignored or failed to estimate these
costs. Economist Michaels estimates
<http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_16208283>  that 1,800 jobs
have been lost by the commercial salmon industry due to the ecological
destruction of the fisheries because of water withdrawals and other problems
in the Delta -- similar to the number of jobs lost to farmers. That shows
some of the potential benefits of delivering a little water to the
environment to restore healthy fisheries.

As for the politicians, will they change their numbers, websites, and
rhetoric? Will they step up for the environment and the salmon fishermen?
Professor Howitt said in an email to reporter Mike Taugher, "Yes, it's a
problem when candidates don't use the most recent and accurate figures... I
have tried to correct this, but this combined report should help put some of
the outdated values to rest."

Do certain politicians and talk show hosts care about facts, even when they
are inconvenient? Will they correct their positions, or will incorrect
numbers continue to be used to drive a political agenda? We'll see.

Peter Gleick

Pacific Institute <http://www.pacinst.org/> 
Read more:
<http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/detail?entry_id=73561#ixzz113dDo
GR3>
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/detail?entry_id=73561#ixzz113dDoG
R3

 

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax

415 519 4810 mobile

bwl3 at comcast.net 

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org 

http://www.fotr.org

 

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20100930/f75e84da/attachment-0001.html
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 27053 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20100930/f75e84da/attachment-0003.jpe
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 7149 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20100930/f75e84da/attachment-0004.jpe
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 19596 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20100930/f75e84da/attachment-0005.jpe
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: image/gif
Size: 5393 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20100930/f75e84da/attachment-0001.gif


More information about the env-trinity mailing list