Dalai Lama at UC Irvine Talk and Panel on “Compassionate Planet”

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama celebrated his 80th birthday at UC Irvine’s Bren Center on July 6, 2015 by giving a talk and panel discussion called the Compassionate Planet: The Effects of Climate Change and Taking Action to Resolve the Global Issue. The announcement for this is at http://hhdl80.org . The presentation has also been written up on the dalailama.com website.
I will give my notes on his words and that of the panelists. (The usual caveats apply to my lack of accuracy and completeness, but I think that I got most of the message.)
The moderator was Ann Curry, previously with NBC News. The introduction was by UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gilman. The Dalai Lama was introduced by Richard C. Blum, of the American Himalayan Foundation and a UC Regent.
The first speaker was Prof. Emeritus Walter Munk of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (he is 97 years old). He spoke of the sea level rise, and of the oceans being warmer. The data of climate change is overwhelming. The quest is can we do something about it in time.
At some point Ann Curry pointed out that 97% of climate scientists agree with human caused climate change.
The Dalai Lama has spoken about climate change since 2012. The compassion is needed to help people in other countries. We must develop a sense of oneness about humanity, he says. We must make an effort as many times as needed. The goal is the right one, it is relevant, and it will be a great benefit if we do something to reach it. We start by meeting with scientists. In Tibet, care must be taken not to pollute the water.
The Dalai Lama advised that we must not damage the environment. Taking care of the planet is like taking care of one’s own home. Once we notice the damage it may be too late. He noted the issue of human population growth, but said that seven billion people is already a huge population.
He noted that there are poor people in the area of the US Capitol. The level of poor must rise.
He said that he is a son of a farmer. As he flew over California, he noted that a lot of its area is still empty of crops for a lack of water. In Australia, there are also large desert areas. (I flew over California a few weeks ago and was surprised to see that only every other field was watered and green, due to our drought.) He noted that we have the ability to desalinate water. We can slowly move farmed areas inland by desalinating using solar power. (Actually, just evaporating water using sunlight and condensing it in a solar still can be more efficient than using only 15% efficient solar power. Fortunately, the planet is a giant desalination machine producing fresh water as rain, but we must learn to use it more efficiently, and recycle it.) India should start developing the country side, as well as it does for city development.
The next speaker was Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, who also advised Pope Francis on climate change science. He asked the question, What is Coming? He foresees drastic change in the next 30 years. He said that we will not be able to protect the poorest three billion people. He pointed out that two billion people depend on the water from the Tibetan glaciers. Yet the top one billion people on the planet are causing 60% of the CO2 pollution due to their high consumption. In the next 30 years we will add another trillion tons of CO2 to the trillion tons that we have already added. (He may have said this will stay up a thousand years, but the considered number is around one hundred years.) Compassion is the way to change our attitude toward nature.
Dr. Ramanathan said it would take $450 per person per year in the top one billion people to change from our carbon economy to renewables. He said that the temperature rise by mid-century would be 3.5 degrees F unless we act and start bending down the pollution curve. To switch the poorest three billion people to clean energy, such as in stoves, would require $250 per person in the richest billion people. The key to this is compassion, and his Holiness can lead in this.
The Dalai Lama responded that this century should be a non-violent century. The interdependence of continents and countries makes this more necessary. If you destroy your enemy, you also will suffer destruction yourself. War is outdated. We must act according to reality. We must eliminate nuclear weapons, and turn the defense industry to other work. Nuclear and other weapons are a waste of money, which we could be spending on ecological protection.
Prof. Isabella Velicogna of Earth System Science at UC Irvine and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab stated that there will be one to two meters of sea level rise by the end of the century. With a one meter rise, San Francisco and Oakland airports will be under water, and the LA-Long Beach Harbor will be flooded. There will be more floods, droughts, and heat waves. More will die, largely among the old and poor. There is a current California drought, and California will become dryer. This will impact the economy and society. Glaciers are disappearing, and this will affect the water supply in the Andes.
Prof. Velicogna, who is an educator as well, said that education was very important. Young students want to make changes. Each member of the audience should take advantage of clean energy.
A community organizer for climate justice, Mia Yoshitani, stressed the moral, justice, and equity aspects of helping relieve climate change. She raised the financial question of how to pay for it. To do so will require active compassion and courage. We should start with science and what we know. We are motivated by the opportunity to rebuild our relation to the planet. Otherwise we will have fires, sea level rise, and heat waves. We must stop CO2 pollution, dangerous oil tanker trains, and clean up refineries. We must live in a world where the dignity of our lives actually matter.
Dr. Ramanathan was asked What Do We Do? He replied, cutting pollution has to start now. He recommended rooftop solar. It was pointed out that buildings are a main source of power consumption. UC President Janet Policano has announced a goal of making the UC system carbon independent. Dr. Ramananthan said there are 100 steps to take, and that it is a solvable problem.
Finally, we got to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. She said she never voted for a war. Wars are projected over fresh water. UC Irvine is working on preventing such wars. There also will be population displacements to rising sea levels, such as in Bangladesh and in Vietnam. She believes that 97% of scientists agree on the cause of climate change. The Congress could not pass a climate bill because it represents a large change in the status quo. (Neither could the Supreme Court either.) We must start with education, and in particular with the education level of mothers is important. We need political will, so we need the public to provide this.
Rep. Sanchez also hoped to get rid of nuclear weapons. She encouraged the audience to call or write you congress persons. We have to be more open to the many news sources available today. We must educate the people around us. Important to us and to young people especially is to register to vote. Don’t give up your power.
The Dalai Lama pointed out that the reality has changed, but our minds have not. People still put their own nations first. We should take a global interest first, then our nation’s interest. This requires an education in a holistic approach, and a humanitarian one. When the planet is happy, each nation automatically benefits. We must serve humanity with compassion. Generations have to grow up with a holistic approach, and then politicians will follow. Society is dominated by money which is then used to acquire power with politicians. We have the ability to change that.
Richard Blum commented that China has to get its act together, as people in its cities are suffering from enormous coal emissions pollution. Coal has influence in the US since it is produced in 40 states. He also mentioned in the political sphere that his wife is California Senator Diane Feinstein. He also pushed hydro power. (China has a big potential in this area.)
Finally, the Scripps Institute gave a special award to the Dalai Lama by naming a new ocean species after him. It is named Sirsoe Dalailamai.

Posted in Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Politics | Leave a comment

Earthquake in the Movie San Andreas Far Greater Than That Expected

The truly frightening scenarios of total San Francisco and Los Angeles destruction in the movie San Andreas is far greater than earthquake science expects. There is already an article at smithsonianmag.com establishing this. The error lies in mixing up the largest earthquakes as in Japan that result from a subduction fault, with the smaller ones along a slip-slide fault as the San Andreas fault is.

The island of Japan is just West of the subduction fault where the Pacific plate, underneath the Pacific ocean, is subducting under an extension of the North American Plate or the Eurasian Plate. That can produce large land displacements. It also causes uplifting , and the water that is lifted up by it then flows back down to level as a tsunami. Being under the ocean, the plate becomes covered by sediment containing water. As that plate subducts, it heats up and the water boils up to the surface. This causes volcanoes. The island of Japan was built by the volcanoes and the subduction. The strength of the Tsuhoku earthquake in 2011 was a 9.0.








The San Andreas faults is called a slip-slide fault, where the Pacific plate on the Western side is moving Northward, and the American plate on the Eastern side is sliding Southward. The leading part of the plate used to be a subduction fault that built up the Sierra Nevada. This is not expected to produce an earthquake greater than 8.0. That is a factor of 32 in energy less than the 9.0 in Japan. This is not explained in the movie. They do present the scenario that maybe a long distance along the fault ruptures at once. A rupture along the entire fault is estimated to produce an 8.3 earthquake, because it is a long fault stretching from the Mexican border, but the earthquake effects die off with distance. An 8.3 quake has about 2.8 times the energy as an 8.0.

california-earthquake-probabilities-up to 8.0















There is a subduction fault going North from Northern California, where the Juan de Fuca plate is still subducting under the American plate. This covers the coast of Oregon, Washington, and Canada. A map is below. This subduction can cause large tsunamis, and that is evaluated for California ports. While some reviews of the movie claim that the San Andreas quake cannot cause a tsunami, the fault does parallel the ocean as it leaves the San Francisco Bay. Even though it is not going to subduct, any earthquake can cause a landslide into or under the water, and this can produce a tsunami (probably not the massive one shown in the movie).

Block diagram of southwest B.C. showing the Juan de Fuca plate descending beneath North America along a subduction zone.

Block diagram of southwest B.C. showing the Juan de Fuca plate descending beneath North America along a subduction zone.












One of the dangers that the movie did not mention was the presence of liquifaction zones in places such as central LA, , Huntington Beach, and West Irvine. In San Francisco there is the Marina District and the East side on the Bay.  Of course, skyscrapers are built on solid rock, but many other smaller structures are not.

SC liquifaction












SF liquifaction














Another danger not mentioned is that thousands of older building in LA are built over car garages that are minimally supported at the garage level. Rather inexpensive cross beam and post systems can upgrade these to prevent collapse, as occurred in the Northridge quake. These have to be required to be updated immediately.

While the movie is filled with spectacular rescues, it fails to mention the simple standard earthquake preparedness kit, such as stockpiling a gallon of water per day for each person, for as long as fresh water might be unavailable. It also recommends stockpiling food that doesn’t need refrigerating or cooking.  Since people will probably be sleeping outside due to aftershocks, you also need a tent, air mats, and warm clothes.  A portable radio with batteries can cover the internet being down.

Earthquake and government experts are now studying the hazard that the canals carrying water to Southern California cross the San Andreas fault, and will likely be broken in an earthquake along the fault.

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What’s New in Big Data. Talk at UC Irvine by Prof. Michael Franklin of UC Berkeley

This is a brief account of the talk by Prof. and Chair Michael Franklin, of UC Berkeley Computer Sciences Department, on May 29, 2015.

Advances of Data Science and Big Data Analysis:

Massively scalable processing and storage

Pay as you go also scalable

Flexible schema on read

Data lakes for storage

Easier integration

Multiple languages

Open source ecosystem driving innovation


He pioneered and operates AMPlab at UC Berkeley.  It develops:



Machines cluster and cloud computing



Parts of the system are:

Berkeley Data Analytics Stack

Apache Spark processing engine

In-memory dataflow system

Tachyon storage

Hadoop visualization


Genomics is an application for this.


At UCB, data science is coordinated at the UC Berkeley Institute for Data Science

It is run by Saul Perlmutter in Physics (he shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the acceleration of the Big Bang from Dark Energy by astronomical analysis of type 1a supernova.)

Data Science involves the overlap of Computer Scientists, Statisticians, and Domain Experts.

It also requires Inference, Visualization, and Communication.

Another consideration is the ethics of data collection and usage.

At UC Berkeley, 5,000 out of 6,000 freshmen learn about computing, also involving some Python programming.

At UCB, he is on the Rapid Action Committee on Data Science.  Its report will come out soon.

It recommends a basic course for all freshmen.  Connecter classes are then recommended leading into the student’s major.

UCI has a major in data science.

I was especially interested in the references for further information that he pointed out.

Big Data Analytics for Dummies, a free pdf from Alteryx.

Frontiers in Massive Data Analysis, another free pdf, from the National Academies Press.

He referenced the Berkeley Institute for Data Science

His lab also developed the free app Carat, which collects data and gives a collaborative energy diagnosis of what apps are causing energy drain on your cell phone.

This was a very informative and non-technical talk.





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In Philadelphia Train Crash, Energy and Centripetal Force 4.5 Times That for Speed Limit

In coverage of the tragic Philadelphia train crash, the news and public are amazed that the train’s speed is over twice of the limit for the curve being rounded.  The speed was 106 mph, and the speed limit was 50 mph.

The key physics phenomena involved, however, go like the square of the speed or velocity, and are a factor of 4.5 times greater than they would be at the speed limit!

Centripetal Force

The force needed to be supplied by the train tracks to hold the train on the curve is

F = m v^2 / r , where m is the mass of the part of the train being turned at that time, v is the velocity and speed, and r is the circular radius of that section of track.  So while the velocity was 2.12 times the speed limit, the square of the velocity and the centripetal force was 4.49 or about 4.5 times that which would be necessary at the velocity of the speed limit to hold the train on the curve.

This 4.5 factor in the force would act to dislocate the railroad tracks at the bend.  What acts sooner is the fact that the railroad tracks are applied at the bottom of the train, and not opposite its center of mass.  So they act as a tripping step, and the train tips over instead.

Kinetic Energy

The kinetic energy of the entire train is proportional to the train’s velocity squared.

K. E. = 1/2 M v^2 , where M is now the mass of the entire train, and v the velocity of the train.

Here again, the kinetic energy is 4.5 times that which the train would have had if it were obeying the speed limit.  All of that energy will be dissipated as the train comes to a stop.  The energy would be absorbed by train cars sliding on the ground and running into each other, by deformations of the cars, and by objects and passengers slamming into the train.

Prevention of Accidents

Apparently, the fact that Amtrak is losing money and Congress is cutting still more is slowing the automatic train stopping system, even in the most traveled Eastern corridor.

Its odd that I have a $100 GPS monitor in my car that turns the speed indicator red every time I exceed the speed limit for whatever road I am on.  Connecting that to an alarm would awaken a drowsy operator, or catch the attention of one being distracted by anything else.  Hooked to a smart phone or on a smart phone, it could automatically call train dispatchers.  This could remove some incidents of train crashes.

It probably the budget of Amtrak, but every airplane carrying 250 people has to have a co-pilot.  Until the track braking system is installed, this should be instituted in trains carrying lots of passengers.



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Building Partnerships for Ocean Health in Southern California

Building Partnerships for Ocean Health in Southern California is a conference in the “Toward a Sustainable 21st Century Series”, presented May 8, 2015, at the Beckman Center for the National Academies, at UC Irvine.

Morning Session:  Our Changing Ocean

Unfortunately, I arrived late and missed the Welcome by Al Bennett, Vice Provost.

Global Change in the Oceans

I also missed the introduction by

Adam Martiny: UCI Earth System Science Department (ESS) and Director of the UCI OCEANS Initiative.

Keith Moore: ESS

He used the CESM community climate model to project to the future.

The RCP 8.5 projection has an increased average solar radiation of 8.5 Watts per square meter at the year 2100.  This is the projection with the “business as usual” increase of CO2.

In the projection RCP 4.5, CO2 turns over by 2050 and stabilizes by 2100.

The sea surface temperature rise in RCP 8.5 is 4 degrees C.

Most of the heat of increased solar radiation or “forcing” goes into the ocean, which has only increased it temperature by 0.2 degrees C since the heat travels downward in the ocean, and has now spread to around 700 meters, or about a half of a mile.  (The Sea Surface World Temperature average (SST) has risen about 0.7 degrees C.  The land temperature has risen even more.)

He showed that ocean photosynthesis decreases 5.7% in RCP 8.5 after a century.

Sinking carbon in the ocean, which is part of the ocean’s absorption of a third of new CO2, decreases by 13% in RCP 8.5.  This depends on location in the ocean, and there is a 50% reduction in photosynthesis in the North Atlantic, with an expected decline in fish.

In California, upwelling may avoid this decline.  There also would be an oxygen concentration decline in the oceans.

Biological Impacts in the Coastal Zone

Travis Huxman of  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

He is the Faculty Director of the Sustainability Initiative.  He noted the Center for Environmental Ecology, the Nature Reserve of Orange County, and the Crystal Cove Alliance.

Cascade Sorte:  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

She discussed the effects of global change on local communities, and the takeover by invasive species in the coastal ocean areas.

She worked in Bodega Harbor where there has been a one degree increase in ocean temperatures.

There was a 90% decline in blue mussels in the gulf of Maine.

There has been an 80% decline in California mussels at Crystal Cove.

She was asked if this was related to the Sea Star decline locally?

Mussels feed sea stars and birds.  Mussels are a Foundation species.

Dynamics of Our Changing Coastal Ocean

Brett Sanders:  Civil and Environmental Engineering CEE

He discussed El Niño and water quality.

A UCI study of air pollution from diesel trucks from the port of Los Angeles led to regulations and a 90% reduction of smog on the 710 freeway in Long Beach.

They showed that small drains slow runoff that leads to polluted water by the drains.

There has been local coastal flooding in 2005 and 2011.  They have made a FloodRISE model and mapping that gives them a predictive capability.

Kristen Davis: CEE

Coral reef bleaching is predicted for 2015.  It results from rising ocean temperatures.  Some coral reefs are just at the edge of the critical temperature.

NOAA puts out a coral bleaching prediction.  Corals seem to be getting hardier.

Large internal waves vary temperature, pH, oxygen and salinity.

She worked at the Dongsha Atoll, and watched bleaching vary with area.

She used a distributed temperature sensing cable.  This uses Raman backscattering in a fiber optic cable.  There can be 10 degree temperature changes in large internal waves.

She uses this in Southern California in a cable stretching up to 10 km from shore.

Role of Local Communities in Coastal Science 

Dave Feldman:  Planning, Policy and Design

He is the director of  Water UCI, another important UCI Initiative.  Initiatives involve research and collaborative interactions across a full spectrum of fields that can study an important civil problem.

He summarized that “The Translation of Science to the public leads to Transformation.”

He pointed out that in coastal flooding, more lives have been lost than from earthquakes

In climate variability, there is sea level rise leading to a rise in pressure on sea walls, which is extended by tides and rainstorms.

There is the social impact of tropical cyclones on insurance policies and risk.

Designers have to work to reduce flooding risk when building projects.

Water pollution is also a concern.

There is also risk from the Sacramento levy system.

Another concern is flooding and environmental justice, which may relate to damage caused to people living on river deltas.

Flooding is a technological and natural hazard.

Valery Olson:  Environmental Anthropology 

She has studied the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem as a Sociocultural Object.  She interviewed families in the Gulf, and found that they were involved in both the fishing and oil industries in the Gulf.

She interviewed scientists involved in the restoration phase from the Gulf Oil Spill and could see a new outlook arising from that.

Angela Mooney D’Arcy:  Executive Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples 

She is an Environmental Lawyer for the local Native American Community.

She pointed out that there were 200 tribal organizations in California.

After the Gold Rush, the newcomers wouldn’t deal with the tribes.

One third to one half of the tribes relied on the coast.

The Native Americans were here from ten to twenty thousand years.  They had Nations that traded and survived.  They had an Environmental knowledge of the area.

In their religious beliefs, they are Stakeholders arising from the creator, and want to be regarded as such.

Local communities are critical in science endeavors.

Their role needs to be reciprocal rather than extractive, and they should be involved in the science or at least receive the results of the science.
















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Fixing the Cloud Problem in Climate Change Models, a Talk by Michael Pritchard

This is a brief summary of a talk by Prof. Michael Pritchard, Department of Earth System Science in the Physical Sciences  Breakfast Lecture Series of the School of Physical Sciences, on May 5, 2015.

Michael Pritchard was introduced by Dean of Physical Sciences Ken Janda, who noted that Michael had received an Early Career Research Program Award from the Department of Energy.

The video of this talk will appear on the School of Physical Sciences website.  I just give a capsule summary here.

Prof. Pritchard has developed a cloud resolving model down to 1-2 km resolution to enhance the Global Climate Models.  The present models have a missing weather pattern, they rain too easily, and there are problems with the daily cycle.

The IPCC projections have hugh error bars, with a 2.1 to 4.7 degree C range.

He uses a multi-scale modeling framework on a Kraken computer, of which he uses 10,000 processors.

He recreates the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), a tropical weather pattern that proceeds over 30-60 days, of calm, then high convection and rain, then calm again.  The pattern moves from West to East.

Madden-Julian Oscillations

There are competing theories for this.  He adds to the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) to make it the CAM Super Parametrized Model (SPCAM).  It has realistic MJO mesoscale convection systems.  The length of inclusion is an 128 km storm length. The small scale is insensitive to the MJO.

At the Orange County latitude, we are at the down part of the Hadley cell circulation from the equator or tropics.  The down part is dry air that keeps us dry.

Updating predictions of climate change, he finds that the MJO is sensitive to climate change, and would occur 10% more frequently with a century of climate change.

For Bangladesh, which is largely a river delta, monsoons can bring a 1.5 meter sea level rise, that floods a major part of the delta. Mesoscale convective complexes form at nighttime and deliver half of summer rain.

When this is modeled, he gets more extreme rainfall in SPCAM.  There is a 7% rise in rainfall per degree C rise in average Sea Surface Temperature predicted by Global Climate Models.

The Marine Layers act as a huge planetary mirrors, since they reflect solar radiation, as seen by their very bright whiteness from above. They occur in Southern California, and off of the West Coasts of Peru and Africa.  They act to cool the planet. They are called Marine stratocumulus clouds.  They are very sensitive to, for example, emissions from ship traffic.

Expanding Marine cloud mirrors lower the planetary temperature rise. To approximate low cloud physics he needs to include that they are controlled by 20m x 250 m eddies.  He includes these by using periodic boundary conditions in connecting many identical cells.  This makes the simulation scalable to larger sizes.

While Kraken has 130,000 processors, newer computers will be Stampede with 500,000 processors, and Titan with 300,000 processors.  They also include Intel M.I.C combined processors, and Graphical Processing Units (GPU) by Intel with lower prices and high speed.

The new computers will allow simulations with 32 km wide and 0.25 km (250 meter) vertically simulations.

He received a question on how to measure the atmosphere  with small scales.  Satellites can measure the vertical liquid sum of water beneath them.  This sum can then be compared to simulations.  The model can test brightness and then weather.

Another question was “Is the Marine layer shrinking?”  There is not enough data to tell this.

He was asked to recommend a starting book on the subject.  He said Dave Randall has a book  (Atmosphere, Clouds and Climate, which is part of the Princeton Primers in Climate, now in paperback).

Randall will have a new textbook coming out this year.

He was asked about who was working on geoengineering, and recommended Steve Davis in Earth System Science.  He also mentioned work on injecting nucleating particles for making more clouds.




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Talk by UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gilman to the Retirees Association

This is a partial account of UCI Chancellor Howard Gilman’s talk to the Retirees Association on May 5, 2015.

(My low speed of taking notes on the iPhone allow me to present only some of the numbers that he stated, and very little of the great content of the talk about UC Irvine’s future.  This is not an official university publication, so consider that numbers may be in error or not fully described. )

The Bright Past part of the talk.

UCI now has 41 members of the National Academy of Sciences.  It also has 33 members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

We were again ranked the top public university in the United States under 50 years of age, for the fourth year in a row.  Since we celebrate turning 50 this year (founded in 1965), we now have to be compared to all other universities.

Our Law School is now accredited and has had the finest launch under Dean Chemerinsky.  We have attained a top 30 ranking in law schools.  Better though, we are the seventh most influential law school in publications.

We are engaging all the students in “Luminations” in art and culture events.

We now have 31,000 students.  Our popularity grew to 88,792 freshman applications this year, and increase of 7.7%.  We also had a 7% increase in African American students, and an increase in Latino student applications.  It was the second best increase in Latino student applicants among UC campuses.

Half of our students are the first in their family to go to college.  We educate more low income students than the entire Ivy League.

In reaching to our Brilliant Future, we are engaging in inter-school collaborations.

Among these are UCI Water, and UCI Ocean.

We want UCI to make a difference at the global level.

The campus should grow to 40,000 students.

We should explore new modes of teaching.  UC Irvine now gives more on-line credits than the other UC campuses combined.

Some Master’s programs may be on-line.

Students are able to watch lectures at more convenient times than class times

UCI should at the same time increase its research by increasing its research funding.  We currently get $300 million a year for research funding, despite tight federal funding.

We should increase the impact of our work to society.  We need new models for new programs.  We receive $78 million in philanthropy, and should be able to bring in more funds in this high entrepreneurial region.

Chancellor Gilman has a  $200 million goal for private funding.  The place to look for idealistic and commuted people for human progress is at universities.

UC Tuition

In an answer to a question on the high cost of tuition (about $12,000 a year), Chancellor Gilman stated that our tuition is much loser cost than private universities.  The reason for the tuition increases is a lack of state support.  Half of a billion dollars has been taken out of the systems budget. It is as if the system added another UCLA and UC Berkeley without an increase in funding.

Most students don’t pay the sticker price of full tuition. More than half don’t pay anything if their family income is below eighty thousand a year.  Those with family incomes above $167,000 pay the full rate.  The average student debt on graduations is $19,000.

Forty percent of our students are from low income families.  We have the best system for low income students.  Our system is better than what the federal system will propose.

An audience comment was that we should raise funds for a building for the school of law.

The same commenter asked us to consider more medical services on campus.  The Chancellor answered that the Affordable Care Act would lead to us getting a bigger footprint across Orange County.  We will partner with Primary Care doctors.  There may be a clinical eye institute on campus.  We should examine what other clinical space there may be.

Human health and wellbeing are among the most important work being done. Biomedical sciences will be coupled with engineering and physical sciences for work in this area.

When asked about assistance to the middle class, he said that Sacramento is providing middle class scholarships.  Foundations are providing assistance in STEM areas.

After the talk, the Retirees Association took a group picture of the campus founders that were present.  Since the campus started in 1965, fifty years ago, they now consider founders as those that arrived in the sixities.  Here is my iPhone portrait of the group.


Retiree founders





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California’s Four Year Drought

Here are graphs that show the extent of California’s four year drought.

California Snowpack

We start with the snowpack which is essential to supply water as it melts over the summer.

Snowpack Since 1950


You can see that in 2012 and 2013 it was less than 50% of normal, and in 2014 and 2015 it is practically nil. Yet the graph also shows something hopeful.  The length of periods around 50% or lower is generally just a few years.  There was one drought before this period that did last nine years, however.  So hopefully this one will end soon.

There is not an established opinion of climate scientists that this is caused by global warming.  But there is a warm ocean “blob” off the coast of Oregon and Washington that has been around for two years, and may be causing the high pressure that diverts tropical storms, and warms the air over the Sierras to reduce snow.  We’ll see if that persists.

California Precipitation

California is expecting low total precipitation for the 2015 water year ending in Sept. 30, 2015.

CA water years



Colorado River Water Measured as Inflow to Lake Powell

Since the Colorado River Aqueduct brings water to Southern California, we are concerned by drought in the Colorado Basin and Lake Powell Inflow.  California gets 27% of Colorado River Water.

Lake Powell Inflow


California State Water Project Allocations

We see that in 2013, the State Water Project Allocation was down to 35%, and in 2014, it was a mere 5%.  For 2015, the allocation has risen to 20%.  The State Water Project provides part of the water for 25 million Californians.

State Water Project Allocations




California Major Reservoir Current Conditions for April 28, 2015

The Orange shows the Reservoir Capacity in Thousands of Acre-Feet (TAF), the Blue the storage level on April 28.  The Red line is the Historical Average level for all April 28ths.

Below the Reservoir is the percentage of total capacity in Blue, and the percentage of Historical Average for the date in Red.  We see the three large Northern California Reservoirs are about 1/2 full, as well as San Luis and Don Pedro.  The others are pretty low or of low capacity.

Major Reservoir Current Conditions

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California Hydropower Has Dropped 60% in the Last Four Years

California hydro-power has dropped enormously because of the drought.  The lower water levels put less pressure at the intakes to the turbines, and they generate less power.  At some minimal lake height, they wobble so much that they cannot operate.  Hoover Dam on the Colorado at Lake Mead has been replacing its turbines to work at lower water levels than before.

California hydro-power has dropped from 23% of state power down to only 7% of state power this year.  It has dropped 60% in the last four years.  Hoover Dam has dropped 25% in power since 2000.  From tree ring studies, this is the fourth worse drought in California in the last 1,000 years.

Fortunately, the Bonneville Power Plant on the Columbia River has remained steady since its origins is in Canada, outside the drought zone.

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IRWD Irvine Ranch Water District Sources, Use Reduction, and Rates


Irvine Ranch Water District Water Sources in 2013:

22% Imported from State Water Project and Colorado River Aqueduct

31% Clear Ground Water (GW)

25% Recycled Water

19% Treated GW which is used in grounds and buildings

In 2015, IRWD had been using 23% imported, but must now cut that percentage by 3% to 5% of the total water use, since the Metropolitan Water District of Orange County has to reduce its imports by 15%.

Ground water cost $454 per acre-foot, and imported water is much more expensive at $1,000 per acre-foot. Even more expensive would be desalinated water at about $2,000 per acre-foot.  However, water savings through conservation and efficiency is estimated to cost only $150 per acre-foot.

The Michelson Recycled Water plant has a 24 million gallon per day (mgd) output which is currently 100% used. It has been raised to 28 mgd, and is planned for expansion to 33 mgd by 2025.

IRWD Water Use Reduction

Irvine has reduced its residential per capita water usage from 96 gallon/day in July 2014 to 69 gallon/day in January 2015, a 28% reduction.

Outdoor water can be 65% of residential water usage. The IRWD outdoor program is called Rightscape and has three parts: (1) right drought resistant plants, (2) right watering schedule, and (3) right equipment with a weather based irrigation controller.

The recommended watering schedule is to water before 8 AM, and for grass in January, water for 2 days a week for 2 cycles of 2 minutes. For grass in July-August-September, water for 4 days of 3 minutes in 3 cycles.  The IRWD does not have any restrictions on which days you can water, or how many days a week you water.  Conservation is built into the rate structure.

In Irvine, the IRWD requirement is a reduction of 16% in usage  of potable water by the end of February 2016. One strategy might be to reset your sprinklers according to the recommendations, and see if that reduces your outdoor water use by at least 16%, and maybe the full 32% needed if outdoor watering is 50% of your water use, and you don’t want to reduce indoor use. By not imposing the requirement until February 2016, they are really protecting your lawn during the hot summer.

Indoors, a 16% reduction is only a 1/6 reduction. You can set your dishwasher on economy, and your washing machine on a slightly reduced load. Running water for anything at 1/6 (or more) less flow will easily get you the small savings needed.

IRWD Water Rates

With the factor of two increase in cost for imported water over ground water, the IRWD rates are already approved as an Allocation Based Conservation Rate Structure, as required by the new court ruling. That is, charging more for excessive use has been approved for IRWD.

There is a variable Standard Water Allocation based on whether you live in an apartment, an attached home condo, or a single family home, and on the number of residents in the home.

For use up to the allocation, the rate averages to $1.16 per hundred cubic feet of water, called a ccf. For volume up to 30% over the allocation, the rate is $3.91 per ccf.  For volume between 30% and 60% over the allocation, the rate is $6.22 per ccf.  For volume more than 60% above the allocation, the rate soars to $12.60 per ccf, or 11 times the average up to the allocation.

The base allocation depends on your dwelling type and typical yard associated with it.   It is 50 gallons per day per person for the number of persons, and then increased for typical yard size.

Below is a Map of the Orange County Water District (OCWD) (Ringed in Black) and the IRWD in Green.  

OCWD service area




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