Oh no, Lake Oroville is running over!

Lake Oroville is an important reservoir in Northern California, and if you look at satellite images, you'll notice a disturbing trend - it's filling up with more and more water, and soon it might overflow!

Back in 2008, the lake was very dry:

Image Credit: Google Earth
However, thanks to record rainfalls triggered by traditional rain dances that were held by various indigenous tribes, water started trickling in over the years. 2009 already looked better:

Image Credit: Google Earth
2010 continued the trend:

Image Credit: Google Earth
2011 brought a big sigh of relief:

Image Credit: Google Earth
Unfortunately, the tribes have not stopped their incessant rain dances, and if the government doesn't intervene soon and prevent them by force from provoking more rain, we'll be looking at this artists' rendition of Lake Oroville in 2016:

Image Credit: Google Earth/EboMike
Now you've probably seen the dramatic "before and after" pictures of Lake Oroville that have been shared over social media again and again, and even our local water district is using those images to illustrate the drought.

And I agree - I believe in global warming, and I believe that we're facing a serious drought that should be a major concern. But I also believe that these pictures are misleading as hell.

The CDEC has a website that allows for plotting historical data of the reservoir back since 1985. Let's look at the range from 2008 through 2014:

Image Credit: CDEC
What's the first thing we see? Lake Oroville is a reservoir! A reservoir is meant to fluctuate in level. That's what reservoirs do. We could just pick pictures taken at some specific points in time to create whatever impression we want to convey.

And the second thing is obviously that yes, there is a downward trend. It's now where it was back in 2008, although we actually had worse times back in 1985.

But if you want to make a point, use facts. There are lots of them - the record temperatures, the low precipitation, the extremely low levels of snowpack, the decline of available groundwater, the continuously high water use by both residents as well as agriculture and corporations. Don't just cherry-pick pictures from two specific dates of one lake in California - a reservoir at that - to make a blanket statement. I guess it works anyway because people are too lazy to do research themselves, but I still have a bad feeling about using those Oroville pictures to illustrate the drought because it can go the other way as well. Climate change deniers can cook up cute little graphics and pictures to make their point.

Speaking of which, there's another graphic that drives me nuts, this one about how corporations get a free pass while toilet flushes have been restricted. It's so stupid that I won't even post the original, just my annotated version:


Playing with units is fun! Comparing the combined state-wide water usage per year with the usage of a single flush of a single person surely makes a lot of sense. And again, it works! People are sharing that damn graphic all over the place, without even thinking twice, and feeling all justified to not change their own habits.

Keep in mind that you can get a dual-flush system for about $20 at any home improvement store that can be installed by yourself in less than an hour.

I invite you again to read my post about doing research. Do your research. Don't be somebody else's pawn.

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