Sunday, February 2, 2014

Water in the West

Major, major resource issue: the droughts in California. While for many of you that seems so far away that it might as well be another country, that's my home. Why you should care: the price of food is about to go up because of it. As the California Department of Food & Ag puts it, "California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities. The state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. Across the nation, US consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in California."

Most water in California comes from the snow that accumulates in the mountains on the California-Nevada border. This year the snowpack is around 12% of normal. That is bad. Think about all that means: crops won't get planted, livestock will be slaughtered early or shipped out (expensively) to places where they can be fed. Hopefully there is enough water to at least keep alive the trees and vines that produce 90% of the country's grapes, 80% of the world's almonds and 40% of the world's pistachios, even if they don't produce any fruit this year. 

Last quote: "California accounted for all or nearly all the national production of almonds, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, Clingstone peaches, pistachios, dried plums, raisins, and walnuts." So even if you aren't worried about whether the 38 million Californians are able to take showers, wash their cars, or water their lawns, hopefully you can see that this is a big deal!

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