Monday, March 9, 2015

California droughtin'

California’s ongoing drought is expected to continue and researchers think they have found the reason for this drought. There have been 6 droughts in the past 20 years, 4 of them being consecutive, and the current drought is expected to continue into 2015 with another increase in temperature.

With the extreme heat and dryness mixed with little to no precipitation, this drought has cost $2 billion to the state of California, plus additional externalities that haven’t shown their monetary damage yet. For example, the state has been unable to fill its rivers and reservoirs with fallen snow or water, and with the excess heat, that brings more evaporation taking the little moisture the state does have.

Researchers are saying it's not always a dry year that triggers the drought, but it is now (since dry years more often combine with high temperatures) due to long heat waves that humans are to blame for. The burning of fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal that are releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been the main cause of this ongoing drought.

Naturally, a lot of businesses that revolve around water are suffering and/or being forced to shut down because they cannot operate. For example, organic dairy farms have shut down because they rely on graze fed cattle to produce milk.  Also, golf courses have closed because their entire business revolves around a green field. Breweries, which have already been forced to cut back on water by 20%, are suffering losses. The Sushi business is taking a hit because most rice is produced in California. And lastly, the medical marijuana business is unable to sufficiently grow plants with the lack of water.

Now, with all of these businesses being unable to produce to the same level as they used to, it is bound to have a drastic impact on their individual markets. Depending on the cost and simplicity, some businesses may be able to come up with alternative ways to produce their products, leaving no effect on the supply of the goods. But some businesses, like the organic dairy producers, have already been forced to shut down. And in turn, the regular dairy producers (substitutes for the organic products) have seen a major rise in business and have been able to raise prices as well.

Not only will California have to come up with alternative ways to sustain their wildlife, but they will also have to come up with ways to keep their local businesses going and not let this drought ruin their economy.
--Nicole Gabrovsky

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