We’re on our way to Washington, DC for the Capitol Climate Action. We met up at the Emeryville station, just across the Bay from San Francisco and are now in the Sacramento River Delta lowlands between San Francisco and Sacramento. Although we’ve left the San Francisco Bay Area, you can still meet up with us along the way. Check out our plans.
The Delta is a very precarious place these days. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers used to form a vast marshland here which has been “reclaimed” to produce lots of very rich farmland and a lot of exurban home sites. Much of the land here is actually below sea level, protected from flooding by levees that occasionally fail.
Sounding familiar? Just like New Orleans.
The Delta is also a climate change bad guy. The soil around here is tremendously rich. It’s all peat bog that has been drained to create land and supply water for drinking and for irrigation throughout California’s Central Valley. Peat sequesters huge amounts of CO2. But when it is drained it decomposes, releasing the sequestered CO2. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of the largest CO2 sources in California.
As climate change intensifies, we can expect intensified pressure on all of California’s water resources and increased drying and decomposition of peat. In California, water is pushed and pulled all over the place, but rarely allowed to flow freely.
The compounding problems surrounding water and climate change in California should teach us something about the unintended consequences of geoengineering. There are always unanticipated outcomes.