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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 10:45 pm | Fair 49º


Ron Fink: Is Global Warming/Climate Change a Threat?

Since there has been a lot of discussion on these pages about global warming or climate change, pick your politically correct term, I would try to figure out how it affects people in Lompoc.

Each day I record weather-related data as it is reported by the National Weather Service observation site at the Lompoc Airport. It provides an interesting and accurate reflection of what has occurred since I started doing it 16 years ago.

On a broader scale, the climate portal on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website reports that according to its measuring devices, the world surface temperature has risen based on the long-term average temperature for the whole planet. It also indicates that during some periods it goes down.

But measurements only go back to 1870, about 146 years ago. So, the data is limited considering the age of the earth, which is measured in billions of years. Should we rely on partial information to make the assumption humans are influencing the world’s climate or rules about what they should do about it based on such limited data?

After all, even when the population was much smaller, there were dramatic temperature swings that resulted in catastrophic events such as the ice age in North America and the subsequent rapid thawing of the ice that probably created the Grand Canyon.

So, what do limited observations tell us?

Looking at the temperature, the last couple of years there have only been a few instances where record high temperatures have been reached. On the other end of the scale, there have been a few instances where low temperature records were set.

As far as rainfall goes, we are currently in the fifth year of a drought, but there have been other drought periods, the last being several years ago. Using September through December as a guide, we are doing a little better this year than since 2012. Maybe things are looking up, maybe not.

Maybe this year the cycle will change and it will rain. But I am not as good at predicting the weather as NOAA is, and while NOAA is very good at recording what happens, it is not always right when it comes to predicting what will happen.

For example, last year the weather guessers were predicting an epic rainfall event because of El Niño; it didn’t happen. This year, they are saying that because of La Niña it will be dry. Will this prediction be correct? If my amateur weather-watcher records are any indication, it is usually the La Niña years that produce the most rain in Santa Barbara County.

What does all this climate-change talk mean to Lompoc? It’s the water.

Water supplies for the South Coast and all over the state, are being confiscated by the fish lobby to preserve small populations of fish. Does this make sense?

The primary reason these fish are endangered along the Santa Ynez River is because 100 years ago the city of Santa Barbara began constructing a series of dams and a diversion tunnel to move water from the Santa Ynez River drainage to their growing city.
It could be argued that today’s center of the environmental activist movement was responsible for the near eradication of an entire fish species. Absent the three dams on the Santa Ynez, there would be no water shortage for fish or people in the areas downstream from the river's headwaters near the Ventura County line, including Lompoc. 

So, if the environmentalists were true to their cause, why aren’t they demanding the dams be removed? Could it be that their self-serving interest, like living the good life in Santa Barbara, is more important than the fish?

Maybe they should demand good environmental stewardship locally and apply it to their own way of life rather than preach to the rest of us about how to alter the world's climate.

So, what can we do about climate change; probably nothing. First, anyone who suggests the world’s population could agree to do anything as a group is dreaming. Second, what could they could do?

Concerning any water shortage in the Santa Ynez drainage area, the easy solution is to remove the dams and allow the river to flow naturally. The fish would be happy with this solution; but, their elitist protectors on the South Coast might object.

Concerning climate change, well the only thing we can do is watch the sky and see if it’s raining, foggy, windy, clear, warm or cold and record the results.



— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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