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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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The Water Cycle

Uploaded: Sep 4, 2011
San Ramon recently passed a Climate Action Plan, which is required by the State of California. This is a local attempt to solve a global problem, which won't have much effect on it and only over-simplifies the problem.

It's foolish to ignore the increases in severe weather events over the last few years, but even if San Ramon reduces the amount of CO2 we might be contributing to global warming, it is literally a drop in the ocean of floods, hurricanes, snow storms, wild fires, and droughts we hear about every day. All of these events are connected in one way or another to the Hydrologic Cycle, or as it is called in 2nd grade, the Water Cycle.

Water is a constant. The same amount of water has exited on Earth for millennia. The only thing that changes is its form. Water, as we know, can be liquid (ocean, lakes, rivers), vapor (steam, humidity), or solid (ice). Only 1% of the liquid water on Earth is potable (drinkable), so it is a very precious commodity.

[The water cycle http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclesummarytext.html for those of you who don't remember your 2nd grade science, is the cycle where water changes from liquid to vapor to clouds to precipitation, and back to liquid water again. The sun heats up the surface of the water and vapor rises into the atmosphere. As it rises it cools and turns it into clouds. It's rather discouraging to learn that beautiful, fluffy clouds are really dusty condensed water vapor.

Clouds are blown by wind currents from the location where the water evaporated to the location where it is released as precipitation – rain or snow depending on the temperature of the surrounding air. More evaporation means more precipitation. Higher temperatures on the water source, means more evaporation. Voila, more rain and snow coming down. It's that simple.

Floods, droughts, hurricanes, unexpected snow storms will continue to happen whether you like Al Gore or not. Gore has nothing to do with this. The Hydrologic Cycle is basic science not bogus science. It's changing now because the temperature on Earth has increased, even if just one degree, and that's enough to increase the evaporation of water, condense it into clouds, and produce greater amounts of rain and snow, or droughts where the water was taken from.

Here's a link to the [NASA website on http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Water/page3.php the water cycle and climate change. You don't have to believe in manmade global warming to recognize that Earth is warming; just consider the cycle of drought and floods we see happening around the World over the last five years.

Many dissenters say it is just a normal change of temperature that the Earth has gone through throughout its lifecycle. OK, I'll buy that (not really, but let's at least agree this is happening for whatever reason). During the last warm spell, 125,000 years ago, the seas were about 18 feet (5.5 meters) higher than they are today. So even if this is simply another global hot spell, it will still cause major changes in the environment we currently inhabit.

If the Earth is warming, shouldn't we be preparing for these changes instead of just letting them happen? By preparing I mean getting ready for the floods, fires, and droughts, and not changing our light bulbs to CFLs. Think of all of the snow in Manhattan last year when they didn't have any place left to put it, or the snow in Atlanta when they didn't have any way to remove it. These are harbingers of things to come. That's why I've been installing rainwater capture systems in my yard. It is necessary to save water whenever we can.

I believe that all of the hot gasses spewed into the environment (not including my own hot air in blogs like this), are contributing to global warming. The Earth is an enclosed sphere. There is a shell around our atmosphere that keeps our air inside. This also keeps whatever is put into our air inside. So if millions and millions of cars and power plants are spewing hot gasses somewhere in the World 24/7, it would not surprise me that it has an effect on the global temperature.

Our Federal and State governments impose laws to make us behave more responsibly but these will probably have very little overall effect. Climate Action Plans in California don't change what China, India, South America, and Africa do. This is a global problem and it is probably too late to stop it. I know that sounds very pessimistic, but I am very pessimistic about this right now.

The state should be preparing for more intense wildfires, droughts, flooding, and a potential rise in the sea level along the coast and inlets. So far San Ramon and the Tri Valley have been lucky to avoid weather-related disasters. We may just be in the right geographic location to escape the flooding, but summer wild fires are a real possibility which is another good reason for storing your rainwater.

Check out where the [water could be http://geology.com/sea-level-rise/san-francisco.shtml. if the sea increases 5 meters to where it was 125,000 years ago. Even if this warming cycle is just another in the cyclical climate changes Earth has experienced in its long life, more water means more rain, means more flooding, means more drought here or somewhere else.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm

From a former San Ramon resident: Your first paragraph is quite true, Roz - the Climate Action Plan probably won't have much effect. While Texas experiences a severe drought this year, I am in South Dakota this summer helping people recover from too much water (I work part-time for FEMA on flooding in this area, although my home is in Oregon). In some North and South Dakota locations there have been 20 years worth of water that has accumulated, creating lakes where none existed before, and swallowing former "lakefront" homes and roads. The Bay Area has not seen the swings in weather the central U.S. states have experienced. Whether the midwest's change in climate and the climate extremes are man-made or solar-caused, I don't claim to know.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Dave Ferguson, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

Remember, open minds are like parachutes, they only work if they are open. I like the plan, because I am a huge believer in education. If San Ramon has a climate action plan, and 1 child in San Ramon learns of it, and then is educated in an area where it is used and ends up in one of the other "challenged" continents, this one child could be part of global change. Sorry to be the optimist. Everyone that can help, should, whether you are a Country, a State, a County, a City or an individual.
Is storing rainwater correct? It can help you, but you are then stealing the water from my creeks and my aquafer which changes the environment, some areas have laws forbiding rain collection, just for this reason.
In our area, more water could be collected from our gray water discharge (sink, lavatories, shower, washing machine) cleaned and used for irrigation. We would also hope that toilets are using 1.28 gallons per flush or less.
I'm just saying...


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Dave,

Very little of the rainwater running off my rooftops, or anyone else's, goes into your creeks or aquifers. They are in fact not your creeks or aquifers, but State creeks and aquifers; so in no way am I stealing it from you.

The water from my roof would go down the downspouts from my gutters and into the storm drains. The water I save in my rain barrels is used for laundry and drip irrigation of my front yard. THAT water goes into the ground and into underground creeks and wells. So those of us who collect our rain and recycle it, contribute to the aquifers not deplete them.

If you are concerned about YOUR water being taken, then save your rain and don't buy bottled water because those companies are taking the water from wells and aquifers.

I agree that gray water should be recycled. There are kits you can buy to filter and recycle water from bathroom sinks and showers (not kitchen sinks) for flushing toilets or using it to water a small garden (it's not enough water for anything bigger than small).

I might use the output from my washing machine to water a flower bed on the other side of the garage, which would be easy to just filter it and run it through a hose. I already have a quote from Waterspout to do that.

Roz




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