Scientific American published an article Monday claiming that climate change is to blame for the ongoing Oroville Dam crisis, due to engineering calculations made that did not anticipate global warming.
The author, Jane Braxton Little, argues:
The dam was built in the 1960s when temperatures were cooler and more precipitation was stored in a greater snowpack in the mountains of the Feather River watershed, which drains into Lake Oroville. Today warming temperatures are bringing more rain as well as melting the Sierra Nevada snowpack earlier in the spring.
Little notes that two California counties surrounding Lake Oroville, Butte and Plumas, challenged the state’s environmental review of the dam in 2008, arguing the state “recklessly failed” to account properly for climate change in its long-term dam management plan.
The attorneys in the lawsuit predicted a faster flow of water downhill. “That’s exactly what happened a week ago, leading to the crater,” Little concludes, offering no scientific basis for her conclusion.
At the time of the lawsuit, attorneys for the California Department of Water Resources (which owns the dam) argued that the counties’ speculation about climate change speculation was “too speculative” to warrant inclusion in their review, Little notes.
Similarly, climate scientists themselves have refused to link recent forest fires in California to climate change — contradicting Governor Jerry Brown himself.
This brings the entire debate full circle. The Oroville Dam — and almost 1500 other dams — are not in jeopardy because of climate change. Rather, they are in jeopardy because of policy decisions made by those in charge — Democrats, for the past decade — to ignore tcritical infrastructure in favor of pandering to groups who could guarantee their reelection for decades.
In the end, the politicians chose illegal aliens, powerful public sector unions and the environmental lobby over dams and infrastructure.
Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman.