Another Crisis Over (Now They Tell Us)

By Bruce Chapman Published on December 22, 2015

Seattle: Here is a little example of the way the triangle of environmental groups, government agencies and media combine to exaggerate problems, and then fail to acknowledge improvement when a “crisis” goes away. The Pacific Northwest drought last summer is over, but until I started calling government offices a few days ago, you would have trouble finding anyone in government or media talking about it.

The rain slamming into my face today on Seattle streets was cold and cutting sharp. It is snowing hard in the Cascade mountains — where snowpack is needed for summer melt — and rain and snow are getting over to typically dry Eastern Washington.

As I said, there was no mention of this reality in the media. It was a crisis last summer, though, maybe caused by El Niño, but maybe (they suggested) also a sign of global warming? In September the U.S. Agriculture Drought Monitor map showed a lot of red in Washington State. But then the rains came, as they tend to do in the fall, you know. By December 15 the map for Washington State was back to light brown and that only in the East. Western Washington had already returned to a pale white.

Drought Monitor for WA

By now, after a week more of unremitting heavy moisture, you can be sure that the map is lightening up still further. Maybe it should be painted a kind of moss green. The reservoirs are full to overflowing. With floods in the rivers and mud slides coursing over roads and rails the word was beginning to, er, leak out.

But until today, there was no peep from the City of Seattle, the County, the State, the Feds or the media. An official for the Washington State Department of Ecology, when I called as a writer, tried very hard not to say “the drought is over” and pointed out why: there is an official drought proclamation from the Governor, no less, that is in force until December 31. Nature should not presume on an official proclamation. After all, Governor Jay Inslee is an exponent of saving the planet from climate change. A drought is a terrible thing to waste, especially in your own state.

Long ago, serving on the Seattle City Council, I concluded that water shortages in the Northwest are not Nature’s problem. They are a problem of government policy.

In last summer’s lambent sunshine and warmth, amidst the Northwest’s incomparable scenery, I refused to be guilt-tripped by the professional alarmists.

Drought Monitor for WA

Now it is pleasant to contemplate that a few questions in the right places has finally helped precipitate the truth (so to speak). For this state, at least — the drought is over.

P.S. It has been raining quite a lot in California the last few days, I’ve noticed!


Bruce Chapman, a former state and national official, is Chairman of the Board of Discovery Institute.

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