Skelton: California needs to catch up on flood management – Los Angeles Times

by | Jan 16, 2023 | Climate Change

SACRAMENTO —  When Leland Stanford became California’s governor in 1862, he needed a rowboat to carry him to the Capitol to be sworn in.Sacramento’s streets were flooded. In fact, much of California was. A 300-mile-long lake was created in the Central Valley from near Bakersfield to Red Bluff. At least 4,000 people were killed.It was the largest flood in the recorded history of California, Nevada and Oregon, dumping 10 feet of water on this state over a 43-day period.AdvertisementThe Great Flood of 1862 followed a 20-year drought.And it occurred half a century before gasoline-burning automobiles began spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, exacerbating human-caused global warming.Gov. Gavin Newsom seems, in every other sentence, to blame the intensity of our current storms — or any drought or wildfire — on climate change. We’re getting drier and wetter and the cycles are becoming more frequent, he and experts warn.OK, I’m no climatologist. But I do read history. And you can acknowledge history without being a climate denier. Burning fossil fuel has warmed the planet and appears to have mucked up our climate. But we’d still suffer terrible droughts and disastrous storms even if all the energy we used was carbon free.Cycles of drought and flooding have been the California way — nature’s way — for eons. There were many droughts and megafloods in California prior to the industrial revolution — before we packed nearly 40 million people into the state, making these events even more disastrous to humans.And, of cou …

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