Friday, April 25, 2014

Marijuana Growing Water Use is Very High

Larry Jacobs wrote (ICO, 4/25/14) that I “perhaps was hitting the bong” when I wrote that pot growing uses as much water on one day as fracking does in a year. Mr. Jacobs then went on to “prove” I was wrong by stating that each marijuana plant absorbs less than a gallon a day, and projected that would necessitate 200 million pot plants, “over six pounds for every man, woman, and child in California.”

Larry, you chide me that I “can’t just throw figures out there and think no one is going to check on them…” However, if you had gone to the link I provided in my letter: “Marijuana’s thirst depleting North Coast watersheds“, Press Democrat, April 12, 2014, you’d have found that my information came from marijuana experts in the Press Democrat article I cited. Yes, Larry, from the Press Democrat: “Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day.” “But Tim Blake, founder of the North Coast's Emerald Cup cannabis competition, said mature, tree-sized plants need closer to 15 gallons a day.”

Larry, I have no idea where you came up with your “less than a gallon a day”, but it’s not credible.

Expert researchers’ numbers indicate California eradicated 4 million plants last year, or 10% of a total 40 million plants grown. On that basis, 36 million pounds of marijuana (one pound per plant) was marketed. Of that, 67% was smuggled out of California, leaving about 12 million pounds for 38 million Californians, or 5.1 ounces/person.

Besides the Press Democrat source, I found supporting information in two Mother Jones articles here and here on damages of illegal pot growing.

Larry, your six pounds per Californian number must have come from the same place you got your less than a gallon of water a day. Your numbers don’t hold water.

The following are my source articles for this post. You can go to the source article by clicking on the link as indicated.

24 Mind-Blowing Facts About Marijuana Production in America (go to link here)
The only thing green about that bud is its chlorophyll.

This is your wilderness on drugs. (go to link here)
The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming

Marijuana's thirst depleting North Coast watersheds (go to link here)
April 12, 2014, 3:55 PM

Will Legalizing Pot Wipe Out The Black Market? (go to link here)
October 27, 201012:01 AM ET
If pot is legalized in California, but not nationally, the Black Market will persist, even grow.

Central Valley California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) (go to link here)
June 4, 2010
The following are the highlights of this study:

  • Marijuana production in California
  • California Produces More Marijuana than Mexico
  • California seized more Marijuana than was seized at the U.S. – Mexico Border
  • California’s Law Enforcement Eradicated More Marijuana than was produced in Canada
  • California May Supply 3/4th of all the Marijuana for US Consumers

The following is the complete text of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, Marijuana's thirst depleting North coast watersheds (link here)

Streams in Northern California's prime marijuana-growing watersheds likely will be sucked dry this year if pot cultivation isn't curtailed, experts say.

“Essentially, marijuana can consume all the water. Every bit of it,” said state Fish and Wildlife Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Bauer, who specializes in salmon recovery and is working on a study of the issue.

The findings, expected to be released soon, shed new light on a massive, largely unregulated industry in California that has been blamed for polluting streams and forests with pesticides and trash and for bulldozing trees and earth to make clearings for gardens.

A sharp increase in water-intensive pot cultivation, exacerbated by drought conditions, adds to the habitat degradation and threatens to undo decades of costly fish restoration efforts, Bauer said.

“The destruction of habitat is actually quite staggering,” said Patrick Foy, a spokesman with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Last year, 24 North Coast salmon-bearing tributaries were reported to have gone dry, Bauer said, though not all were verified by the agency.

Even without drought, there isn't going to be enough water to meet the pot industry's growing demand, Bauer said.

Just the illegal marijuana plants confiscated in California by law enforcement in recent years — between 2 million and 4 million annually — use upward of 1.8 billion gallons — or about 600,000 water tanker trucks over their five-month growing season, based on the average water usage documented in the study.

That amount is enough to stanch the seasonal flow of many small creeks in the region, potentially stranding the young salmon and steelhead that decades of taxpayer-funded efforts have sought to restore.

“It's really an important issue for fish,” Bauer said. “We've invested a lot of money in these salmon and steelhead stock.”

The North Coast sits at the center of the escalating environmental crisis. Its remote forests and seemingly ample water supplies have long made the region famed territory for West Coast pot cultivation, earning three counties — Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity — the much-trumpeted “Emerald Triangle” moniker.

That notoriety is now marked, however, by the signs of widespread environmental degradation, endangering the region's clear, free-running streams and the wildlife that depends on them.

“I think it's really important that this industry, which has brought so much wealth to our communities and the region, take responsibility for its impacts,” said Scott Greacen, executive director of Friends of the Eel River.

The state study Bauer led examined three watersheds in Humboldt County and one in Mendocino County, all of them renowned for marijuana cultivation. They include two near Redway, one near Orick and one that includes Willits.

The Redwood Creek watershed near Orick drains into the ocean. The other three watersheds feed the Eel River.

Using satellite images, researchers determined that an average of 30,000 plants were growing in each of the four watersheds in 2012, an increase since 2009 of 75 percent to 100 percent, Bauer said.

“We were able to count every plant and measure every greenhouse,” Bauer said. The pot gardens they found ranged in size from 10 plants to hundreds, he said.

The greenhouse-plant counts are estimates, based on the size of the structures.
Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day. At that rate, the plants were siphoning off 180,000 gallons of water per day in each watershed — altogether more than 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the average 150-day growing cycle for outdoor plants.

“We're still fairly shocked,” by the results, Bauer said.

Some marijuana advocates have taken issue with the 6-gallon-per-plant estimate, saying daily water use is considerably less. But Tim Blake, founder of the North Coast's Emerald Cup cannabis competition, said mature, tree-sized plants need closer to 15 gallons a day.

Plants grown in inland Mendocino County, where it's hot in the summer, will use more water, while those in cooler regions can use less, Blake said. He estimates it takes 60,000 gallons to 75,000 gallons to raise 25 plants, the current limit for medicinal marijuana in Mendocino County.

Sheriff Tom Allman has estimated there are more than 1 million marijuana plants being illegally grown annually just in Mendocino County. That doesn't include medical marijuana gardens.

Water and wildlife officials don't base their investigations on whether the marijuana being grown is for medical purposes. Instead, they look at the violation of laws meant to protect natural resources, including forests, soil and streams.
“If the operator is not in compliance with environmental laws, then they're not legal. That's the way I look at it,” said Stormer Feiler, an environmental scientist with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The new study escalates scrutiny of North Coast pot cultivation and is likely to inflame a debate that has raged for years among supporters and foes of marijuana farms. The issue has even split growers in the industry, which has an annual estimated value that varies widely, from $10 billion to over $120 billion.

Until now, few official statistics have been available to inform the water-use discussion about marijuana. That is unlike the attention on other land-intensive industries, including the North Coast's famed wine crop, where water use has been documented and watched for years.

But with logging activity on the decline across much of the region and a thriving black market for pot — plus state-sanctioned recreational marijuana sales in Washington and Colorado — the spread of cannabis cultivation is now seen by many environmentalists and government scientists as the greatest threat to forests and streams damaged by decades of heavy human use.

“There's no real question the marijuana industry is now the biggest single sector in terms of our concerns,” said Greacen, Friends of the Eel River director.

He said regulating the industry and its water use would go a long way toward fixing the problem.

If growers collected all their water during the rainy season and stored it in permitted tanks or ponds — like many other farmers — marijuana's water consumption would not be such an issue, Greacen said.

Blake, the Emerald Cup founder, agreed. He said most locally based growers are conscientious, both about staying within plant limits and using their own springs or buying tanks of water. But there are others who buy, rent or trespass on water-short properties and then divert water illegally to grow their crops, he said. Law enforcement officials say such growers also tap into neighbors' springs and water tanks.

“It's the big commercial growers that are giving all the people who have been doing a good job up here a bad name,” Blake said.

Dale Gieringer, state coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a group that advocates for marijuana legalization, said growers are taking too much of the blame for the state's water woes.

“I don't think marijuana is responsible for most of the water problems in California,” he said. But, if the marijuana plant counts cited in the study are correct, “that could have an impact” in those watersheds, he acknowledged.

Wildlife officials are quick to say that many local marijuana growers are following the rules.

But there are quite a few who don't.

Fish and Wildlife officials last year investigated 264 marijuana-growing operations in the state and helped remove 129 illegal dams being used to irrigate pot, said Capt. Nathaniel Arnold, who runs the department's statewide marijuana team.

Of those operations, about 70 were in Lake and Mendocino counties, he said.

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board officials investigate about 30 marijuana-related cases a year, said Feiler. The board oversees all or parts of Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Trinity, Humboldt, Glenn, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Shasta and Modoc counties.

Agency officials say they are limited in what they can accomplish because they are outnumbered by marijuana-growing offenders.

“We just don't have enough staff” to investigate every complaint, Feiler said.
The cases often take years to investigate and prosecute.

State regulators recently worked on three cases, each involving an unauthorized dam on one tributary to the Navarro River in Comptche, west of Ukiah.

Another case involves a Willits-area property rented to marijuana growers who used bulldozers to clear several acres of forest.

On Friday, the Oakland landowner, Joung Min Yi, reached a settlement with the state that requires him to pay $56,404 in penalties for state and federal water code violations.

He also is required to restore the land, work that has reportedly cost more than $80,000, Feiler said.

Most cases pursued by water regulators are resolved through civil fines rather than criminal charges, in part because it requires fewer resources, he said.

Marijuana growers aren't the only ones taking water without permission. Last year, a Mendocino County vineyard was fined $33,800 for diverting water from an unnamed creek into its irrigation reservoir.

Legislators have proposed stronger environmental protection measures in response to the problem. Pending state legislation would boost funding for water and wildlife investigations connected to illegal marijuana cultivation.

In Mendocino County, Sheriff Allman has initiated a water theft hotline and said cases are being being vigorously prosecuted. The District Attorney's Office does not have statistics available on water prosecutions, spokesman Mike Geniella said.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has put together a team dedicated to dealing with marijuana, Foy said. Water and wildlife officials also are asking marijuana growers to learn and follow water regulations. The State Water Resources Control Board website has information about obtaining permits to collect and store water.

The permits and requirements apply to any site preparation work, “regardless of crop,” the state website notes.

Still, regulators and environmentalists are concerned that the explosion of marijuana in the region, without greater controls, will ruin the landscape for everyone.

“It's the tragedy of the commons,” Bauer said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cherry Picker Accuses Cherry Picking

Cherry pickers like John Wiesner (ICO, April 18) shouldn’t accuse others of cherry picking (good cherry-picking article: Previously I wrote that San Francisco has the longest tide gauge record in the Western Hemisphere (link to three ICO letters)  in which I analyzed San Francisco tide gauge information). In 158 years sea level at San Francisco rose only107 millimeters (4.2”) or 2.7” per century, a tiny rate of increase that somehow impressed Mr. Wiesner. However, at that rate it takes over 22 centuries, not 86 years, to reach “expert” predictions of 5’ by 2100. Only 129 years ago, the 1884 San Francisco sea level was only 1.8” lower than 2013.
Mr. Wiesner noted that San Francisco’s sea level in 1941 was unusually high, but omitted that it was higher than 2013 twenty-one times, including 1941, 1956, 1969, 1983, and 1997. He also missed my key point that sea level fell since 1997 in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle, when all the “experts” agree it must rise at an accelerating rate to increase 5’ by 2100.
Researching his cherry-picking comments inspired me to expand my study by adding Victoria and Vancouver in Canada. I found that all six cities I studied had higher sea levels in both 1983 and 1997(1983 was higher than 1997 for four), and that half had higher 1941 sea levels, than in 2013.
Mr. Wiesner began by praising me for providing a link to my source, but ended by asking if I thought no one would check my assertions. Only a liberal could be so illogical. Why would I provide a link to my data, and think no one would use it? I invited its use.

Here it is again: link to tide gauge data. Please use it and challenge your beliefs. You could dispel embarrassing ignorance.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions by Ignorant Climate Change Alarmists

Ignorance is a strong foundation to build a belief system on, and human-caused climate change is the best example extant. I’m frequently confronted with statements that anthropogenic global warming, climate change, or now its latest incarnation, weather “weirding”, are responsible for such things as droughts, sea levels rising, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, vanishing snow, retreating glaciers, civil war in Syria, deforestation in Indonesia, and loss of the Kilimanjaro ice cap.

My answer is always that climate change is natural, and that our current modest warming is a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age (1400-1850AD), the coldest period during the past 10,000 years. I explain that there have been five warming periods in the past 10,000 years since the end of the Ice Age. I name the periods chronologically, beginning with the Holocene Optimum 8,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Minoan, Roman, Medieval (900 to 1400AD), and finally our current warm period. I point out that each warm period does not get as warm as its predecessor, and that the warm period we are experiencing now is the least warm by far.

Then I throw in the Eemian warm period 125,000 years ago, and note that it was much warmer than any of the Holocene, our current warm period. By then I can see total incomprehension, so I don’t explain that the past million years have a pattern of 100,000-year cold (glacial) periods alternating with 20,000-year warm (interglacial) periods. The bottom line is that I have just given a brief lesson in natural climate change, and that the concept that climate is always changing, and often is much warmer than now, is met by dumb disbelief by my audience. “That’s not what Al Gore said!”

So then I make it simple. I show a chart of temperature in a local city, Santa Rosa, California (below). Temperature in Santa Rosa peaked in the 1930’s, and there has been a cooling trend since.

Since these temperature records are from the U. S. government National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I can’t be accused of oil company propaganda.

This is the Santa Rosa chart after it was recently "homogenized". The strong cooling trend of the originally recorded data has now become warming - the early 1900's are over one degree Celsius lower, and recent temperature are about half a degree higher.

Here is Ukiah, before and after homogenization. Again, a century-long cooling trend becomes warming.

Ukiah before homogenization:
 Ukiah after homogenization:

They might say, so what, that’s only one city, and the Earth is overheating. Obviously they haven’t comprehended what I illustrated concerning natural climate change in the past 10,000 years, and the past million years. So then I show them a chart showing there has been no significant global warming for almost 18 years, a period where the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 has doubled. 

None of the climate models show that a huge increase in atmospheric CO2 does not increase warming for almost 18 years. Just the opposite. The climate models show warming accelerating, yet at this point measured temperature is below the lowest climate model projections. In science studies, when models don’t agree with reality, the models get thrown out. Since the UN still goes with the models instead of reality, that shows that science is not what the UN is trying to accomplish.

How about sea levels rising. Tide gauge records for the four largest cities on the U. S. West Coast – San Diego, Las Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle – show that current sea level for each of them is about the same as in 1941, and that all have experienced falling sea level since 1983.

Do you see any sign of sea level acceleration in this San Francisco tide gauge record? Sea level was two inches higher at San Francisco in 1983 than in 2016, and the rate of rise is less than five inches per century. The "experts" predict sea level will rise five feet by 2100, but at the current rate sea level will not reach a five-foot increase until 3300 AD. Just in time for the next glacial period (Ice Age).

Droughts? Fewer and less severe than before 1950.

Hurricanes? Glad you asked. Fewer powerful ones, and the longest period since the Civil War that no strong hurricane has hit the U. S.

Tornadoes. Also fewer strong ones.

Floods? Besides the fact that floods should not have anything with global warming, there has been no trend in increasing weather-related losses.

Snow? No trend of less snow.

Glacier retreat? Glaciers have been retreating since the end of the Little Ice Age, and for many glaciers, they retreated far more before 1900 than after. Seen Chasing Ice, by James Balog? James does not inform his viewers that the glacier he videoed in Greenland retreated 18 miles from 1851 to 1964, stopped retreating until 2001 while atmospheric CO2 increased steadily and dramatically, and has retreated an additional six miles since (during a period of no significant global warming).

Wildfires? The trend is going down.

It is amazing how small an effect facts have on beliefs, such as the anthropogenic global warming/climate change religion. It should be so simple to end it. CO2 is going way up, but temperature isn't, and the climate now is nowhere as warm as previously naturally. 

But it isn't. Belief dies hard, if ever.