Saturday, July 24, 2021

California's drought causing a crisis in agriculture and rural communities

So far, Western drought likely worst in a millennium and may be the beginning of 'aridification' is the most read entry of the current blogging year with ~1,660 default and 2,192 raw page views. I updated the story in Drought, fire, and mudslides in California, a story I tell my students earlier this month, but CNBC uploaded How The West Coast Drought Could Cause More ‘Water Wars’ yesterday. It adds an economic and government perspective to the scientific one in the two earlier posts, so I'm sharing it.

How The West Coast Drought Could Cause More ‘Water Wars’

While the previous two posts looked at climate change and its effect on water supply, I haven't focused on that pathway's effect on agriculture and food production for seven years, with Climate change reducing food supply examining the subject in general and CNN on the San Joaquin, America's most endangered river looking at California in particular. It's about time I returned to the subject.

I have my reservations about the solutions proposed, particularly water indexes, a financial instrument that may be better for investors than for consumers, and desalination. As I tell my students, that's a technology that works only where there is a lot of demand, money and available energy, but few alternatives for increasing water supply. All those perfectly describe Israel but hasn't described California until very recently. As I wrote in Drought and polar vortex from KPBS seven years ago: "In Tunnel in the Sky, published early 60 years ago, Robert Heinlein expected that southern California would become dependent on desalination plants to supply freshwater. I thought that future was a long way off, but it may happen sooner than I expected.

PBS NewsHour uploaded their own report on the effects of the drought four days ago, Californians scramble for fresh water as taps, wells run dry.

The severe drought across the Western U.S. is already causing long term problems, exacerbated by the warming atmosphere driven by climate change. As William Brangham reports from California’s San Joaquin Valley, the demand for water has threatened the drinking supply for hundreds of thousands of rural residents — including the farmers who grow a significant part of the country’s food supply.
While PBS also reported on the impacts on and of agriculture, it focused more on the individual farmer and consumer. It certainly doesn't have the question "how can I make money off of this" lurking in the background like CNBC. The Wall Street Journal could have done that in Why the Western Drought Will Have Major Ripple Effects, but it focused more on the science and effects on individuals.

Watering the Country's Food Basket Is Becoming a Challenge

Droughts are part of a natural cycle of water. But the drought currently gripping the Western U.S. has climate scientists concerned that the cycle may be shifting. This has major implications for those who rely on the water the most: farmers and the communities they surround.
The "ripple effects" the Wall Street Journal describes are examples of two of Commoner's Laws, "everything is connected to every thing else" and "there is no free lunch," both of which make this a story I can tell my students. Welcome to blogging as professional development.

I'm sure I'll return to the drought and its effects later. Right now, stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature, which I'm planning on being part two of Coffee Party USA announces the 2020 Golden Coffee Cups movie shortlists, part 1: films.

No comments:

Post a Comment