“I’m from the government … …and, I’m here to help you.”
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
H. L. Mencken
We hear much about the Precautionary Principle as believers in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) would have it applied to avoid the possibility of catastrophic climate change. However, we hear little about it when applied to everyday issues, such as drought; and, particularly when government has failed to apply it to predictable problems, such as periodic drought events in desert regions.
The State of California is a prime example of the failure of government to apply the Precautionary Principle in the case of the current drought. The population of California has approximately doubled since the most recent water supply dam was commissioned in the state. Caution would have suggested the need to increase water impoundment to meet the needs of this growing population while continuing to provide the water required for agricultural irrigation in the state.
While the hobgoblin of drought induced by climate change might be imaginary, as Mencken suggested, the hobgoblin of drought is all too real; and, its adverse effects are magnified by the state’s failure to prepare for a fully anticipatable future event. These effects will manifest themselves nationally in limited availability and increased costs of vegetables, fruits and nuts grown in the state. The central valley of California is littered with abandoned fields and orchards deprived of contracted quantities of irrigation water.
Government would have the populace depend on it for a broad variety of services. However, this is one case in which the government has clearly failed to plan adequately for the provision of those services. Interestingly, in the face of the current drought, California is planning a high speed rail system, but not new water impoundments.
It is not clear what the proposed high speed rail system is a precaution against, but it is certainly not the effects of prolonged drought.