Many Americans (especially those on the west coast) have surely heard in the news that California is going through a drought that’s generally blamed on a lack of rainfall which has resulted in a lot of residential restrictions and fines, which generally come down to: use less water – take shorter showers, don’t leave the sink running, only water on certain days, if you leave a hose running outside for extended periods of time for no real reason you can be fined by the city, that sort of thing. Residents and their water use, however, are not the big culprit, and they won’t be the big solution to the problem, especially considering that “residential water use…accounts for 12 percent of the total use in the state.”
The big problem here is climate change – this is year four of California’s “scant rainfall and record-breaking high temperatures, the state’s snowpack accumulation is record low at 5 percent of the historical average…altogether, the drought stands as the worst to hit the state in 1,200 years.” Temperatures that continue to climb? Less rain? Sounds like climate change. USNEWS continues to describe the issue, stating that “climate change intensified the…drought by fueling record-breaking temperatures that evaporated critically important snowpack, converted snow to rain, and dried out soils.”
The Daily Best takes the description of the problem we’re facing a step further, revealing the fact that California “produces roughly half of all the fruits, nuts, and vegetables consumed in the United States – and more than 90 percent of the almonds, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli and other specialty crops” doesn’t make things much better, and that the price of water in California (which is far cheaper than it ought to be given the drought situation as it is, especially given the mandatory rationing that’s taking place) has driven food growers to record high pricing of “thirstier” foods such as pistachios and almonds. These industries are seeing record profits despite the drought – and because of this, we’ll continue to see industries that exist as they do because of long-held social habits, such as the meat industry, thrive as a vital resource becomes scarcer – and most outlets aren’t reporting on it, “according to the nonprofit Water Footprint Network, animal products require more water than any crop product with equivalent nutritional value.” Perhaps the first step that needs to be taken is a step back: The gamed-up agriculture system, with its minimal emphasis placed on water requirements and pollution and how this all doesn’t seem to factor into profit nearly as much as it should, needs to be re-evaluated now.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Drought.jpg