Lake Mead levels aren’t about climate change, but over-consumption


The American Spectator points out the obvious.

The water level in Lake Mead is reaching record lows and the popular narrative maintains that drought brought on by human-caused climate change is to blame. But the government’s own data from the Bureau of Reclamation shows this is not true.

. . .

As can be seen in the Bureau of Reclamation’s official estimate of the yearly natural water flows into Lake Mead, there has been no long-term trend in water flow into the reservoir.

Most of the water supplying the Colorado River at this location comes from snowmelt in the upper Colorado River watershed. The April snowpack in that region also shows no trend.

So, why is Lake Mead losing so much water? The answer is overuse. The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, published in 2012, showed that water demand from Lake Mead increased rapidly over the decades but remained less than water supply until around 2000, after which usage exceeded the available water supply in most years. This is what can be expected when we build cities in the desert (e.g. Las Vegas) and grow crops on arid land where there is insufficient natural precipitation.

. . .

The problem is that lazy and biased reporting — even in some scientific reports — has led to the widespread misperception that climate change is responsible for Lake Mead losing water. It’s not.

Lake Mead is being drained. It’s not climate change.

There’s more at the link.

The eco-weenies keep on blaming climate change for everything they can think of, even when the facts demonstrate that they’re lying through their teeth.  Remember all the moaning and posturing about rising sea levels flooding low-lying areas, even whole countries?  Well . . . 

It’s amusing to see the so-called “fact-checkers” try to debunk that image.  They argue that unless the two pictures were taken at the same state of the tide, they can’t be directly compared;  and they claim that sea levels have, indeed, risen at the Statue of Liberty.  However, their claims are so silly on the face of it that they lack credibility.  For example:

“The (relative) sea level rise (SLR) in NYC (Battery tide gauge) is about 1.1 inches in every decade, or about a foot in a century,” Dr Klaus Hans Jacob, Special Research Scientist in Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Colombia Climate School, told Reuters.

“A photographic comparison between 2020 and 1920 is meaningless since the daily tides in New York harbor are several feet every day, and therefore are larger than the SLR for the last 100 years,” he added.

OK, Dr. Jacob – but when were your sea level rises measured?  At what stage of the tide?  Neap tide?  Flood tide?  Spring tide?  Your measurements are subject to the same problem.  Also, at “about 1.1 inches in every decade”, the sea level rise between those two pictures would theoretically be (over 119 years) about 13 inches – just over a foot, and also lost in the rise and fall of the tides that span several times that distance, twice every day.  How would we tell?

Sorry.  I have no problem agreeing that the climate is changing.  It’s done so since before the dawn of recorded history, and will continue to do so long after I’m dead and gone.  However, when climate change advocates deliberately falsify the historical record, and massage facts and figures to make them conform to their theoretical models, I lose all patience with them.  If they expect me to destroy the energy and economic foundation of our present civilization due to “feelz” rather than facts – no, thank you.



  1. It doesn't matter what the tide level was when the pictures were taken. Both pictures show the "tidal zone," in which sea life that relies on tidal exposure to air flourishes. That "black strip" at the water line is in the same place in both pictures!

    As for the overuse of the water from Lake Mead, our "goevernor" Newsom believes it's "climate change." Still, there's enough water to "provide sanctuary…" and free water, gas, and electricity, et cetera… to MILLIONS of ILLEGAL ALIENS. If there's enough water for the illegals, there's enough water for me to have a green lawn…

  2. B.S. flag thrown.

    No, the falling levels are not anthropogenic climate change.
    They're also not 22 years of "over-consumption".
    They're 22 years of ignorance and apathy.

    Lake levels decreased, but didn't crater in 2001.
    Nor 2002.
    Nor 2003.
    Nor 2004.
    Nor 2005.
    Nor 2006.
    Nor 2007.
    Nor 2008.
    Nor 2009.
    Nor 2010.
    Nor 2011.
    Nor 2012.
    Nor 2013.

    Clever readers may spot a trend here.

    In fact, the lake was lower in 1956 and 1964-65 than any year until 2014.
    You could look it up.

    But starting in 2014, they reached new lows, mainly because of an epic and ongoing western US drought, which is now in its 22d year. This is the driest period in the Western US in 1400 years. Which continues to right now, while no plans for altering consumption have been adopted from then to now, inclusive.

    Output has exceeded input from 2000 onwards, and the simple solution is to stop taking out more than is replaced.

    That can has simply been kicked down the road for two decades, with downstream allocations based on wet years, but the lake having multiple serial dry years.

    This is simply politics refusing to acknowledge that the king cannot command the seas to halt, nor the clouds to rain, nor is willing to tell his subjects to stop drinking water and watering crops, because they fear torches and pitchforks more than drought.

  3. Tide gagues all along the coast measure water levels every few minutes for decades to generate a long term average 'sea level'. This data is used for things like establishing 0' mean sea level obviously, and impacts your insurance rates (flood) and property lines (coastal proerty borders are usually referenced to the water line at MSL). It is a fairly involved process. Look up T.C.O.O.N. for the Texas example:

    So yes, establishing (and monitoring changes in) mean sea level to within fractions of an inch is routinely done along virtually the entire US inhabited coastline. The impact of said measurements is quite another story. For example, who decided if it is rising sea level or subsiding land? Both may be issues depending on the location.

  4. Las Vegas' response to the falling level has been to plan on stealing all the eastern NV farmer's water. They are expecting to pump it into a channel/pipe system to obtain it. IIRC, the cost is expected to exceed $5B, not counting the bodies that the farmers have stated they will stack up around the water works in the attempted theft.

    1. The governor has tried to do that from Northern Nevada too but there are too many logistical problems with the idea.

  5. @Aesop: What's interesting is that, as the article shows, actual input levels to Lake Mead haven't changed much, in spite of the drought over the past decade. I'm puzzled by that, but the numbers speak for themselves. Therefore, is the drought really to blame for the low level of Lake Mead? I'm inclined to believe that over-consumption is probably the main cause.

    1. I suspect this is a case of "AND", not "OR"…
      Don't forget that the Colorado River is managed as a system, with multiple dams and an effort to balance irrigation, power generation, recreation, and other uses
      While the flow into Lake Mead had been constant, what was the flow into the whole system? Were other dams storing less to keep Lake Mead fuller in the past?

  6. Everyone wobbles on about the change in sea levels, and this of course is referenced by the punters in relation to the land. Yet who has also measured for any differences in the height of the land itself?

    Tectonic plates are still active and land will slowly deform as they continue to collide together. In science and other areas, context and perspective are everything.

    Needless to say, there is no science component in a journalism degree.

    1. I've read that Miami has been shown to be sinking, on top of being very low to begin with…
      So are some other places, in some cases due to over mining and other resource overuse.

  7. Roy Spencer PhD, a climate scientist had an extensive post on Lake Mead in his blog last month with graphs showing water coming in and use since the 1930’s. Also a graph showing an averaging of a number of climate models indicating an actual increase of projected precipitation in the long run. He is not a denier of some warming!

  8. Peter,

    It's a fair point, but it begs the question:
    How could lake inputs possibly remain unchanged amidst a multi-millenial-record 22-year drought?!
    It's simply impossible, if the data were honest.
    "There's a drought from Kansas to San Francisco, but it magically missed Lake Mead"??
    Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

    Figures don't lie, but liars figure, so I have to assume the data has been fudged harder than globull warming numbers to come up with that "input".

    Cui bono?
    "Follow the money".

    If they admitted input had dropped, cities like Vegas would have had to cut their withdrawals apace, which would have crippled their growth since 2000.

    Everyone who believes they'd sit still for that, please signify by standing on your heads.

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