California and Water

California’s Department of Water Resources has produced Progress on Incorporating Climate Change into Management of California’s Water Resources: detailed descriptions of expected challenges in water issues this century due to climate change and sea level rise.

I hadn’t considered the effect of El Nino, which blows the Pacific Ocean east and increases sea level, by 1/4 meter in January 1998. Climate models predict that El Ninos will become more frequent.

Caveat: The report focuses on the effect of a sea level rise of one foot, because the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report predicted a sea level rise of 4 – 33 inches. The 2007 IPCC report is expected to predict a sea level rise of up to 2 meters.

Comments that go beyond praise and nays
Ramsay Huntley from objected to my claims that the typical American could not offset greenhouse gas emissions for $100/year. His arguments are correct, but the mitigation costs he cites are the marginal costs of reducing GHG emissions. The average cost will be much greater, probably many hundreds of dollars per family per year for a partial reduction. offers a service to those who have reduced their GHG emissions — using more efficient cars and appliances and light bulbs, insulating more, wasting less energy on empty rooms, driving and flying less — and would like to pay for the remaining GHG emissions. This is a commendable attitude and I should not have been so critical.

I hope that a sizeable percentage of people who go this route also find their way to laboring with legislators.

Update isn’t just about offsets:

The most important thing that all of us can do to deal with climate change is to use less energy. Here at, our motto is “Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t.” Our mission is to educate people about steps they can take to reduce energy use.

Further update I used the calculator. I have a spreadsheet which I use in classes and workshops so students can look at their own greenhouse gas and oil behavior. The Carbonfund estimate of GHG emissions is about 60% of what I get using A) buses and trains as well, and more importantly, upstream costs, such as the GHG emissions from drilling, refining, and transporting oil, or natural gas leakage. Then there is an enormous amount, about 45% of our GHG emissions, which show up in industry, agriculture, water (19% of CA electricity goes to water), going to work or to the hospital or the store.

Most people should multiply the value by about 3 to get a more realistic sense of their GHG emissions.

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