Over the Hill

A dry North County is bad news

Lately I hear people saying things like, “What a lovely, sunny day.”

I give noncommittal responses, but the old grouch within me wants to say, “No, it’s a terrible day; we need rain.”

I live in Paso Robles. During February, we got just 0.28 of an inch of rain. And in January we only got 1.02 inches. That’s according to the rain gauge in the city water division yard at 13th and Paso Robles streets.

Those rain readings are far below average. Our average for February is 2.86 inches and for January, 3.10 inches.

The only silver lining in our unrelenting blue skies is that they contradict the people who claim global-warming doesn’t exist. Our dry skies also justify the past decisions of Paso Robles City Councils to join the Nacimiento pipeline project and to raise our water rates to pay for it.

Paso Robles wasn’t the only dry place in January and February. The Associated Press reported that those two months were the driest on record for California.

 And last week a group of scientists announced that temperatures on Earth are now warmer than they have been for the past 4,000 years. They also predicted that, in future decades, Earth’s temperatures are likely to climb higher than they were before the last ice age.

They also said they had succeeded in estimating the Earth’s temperatures for the past 11,300 years. They did so by studying microscopic creatures that lived back then.

Many scientists believe our current steep rise in temperatures is caused by our increased production of carbon dioxide. It is produced by the widespread burning of coal and petroleum and by other large-scale industrial processes. It probably began with the Industrial Revolution.

Carbon dioxide is called a “greenhouse” gas because it works like the glass roofs on greenhouses. They let the sun’s heat in and then continue to hold in the heat.

The carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere needs to be reduced. That would require major changes in the practices of industries and businesses and even populations. Few are volunteering to change. Most probably won’t change until Earth suffers several major catastrophes.

Until then the North County probably will steadily get even dryer.  Each passing year will make the building of the Nacimiento pipeline seem like a smarter and smarter idea. Nacimiento Lake has a remarkably productive drainage area that catches even the scantest rainfall.

Most Paso Robles city water customers may eventually agree that it was wise to raise our water rates to pay for the rights to 4,000 acre-feet of Nacimiento water every year.

Phil Dirkx's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.