Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Climate: California Water and Agriculture

Last week I posted on my personal blog about California's upcoming water problems and agriculture-killing drought. As California produces a huge amount of this country's fresh produce, the seed catalogues I received as gifts in December are now all the more valuable. Half the seeds I have ordered have arrived and the other should follow shortly. That state's water problems are giving everyone a headache from top to bottom (Gov. on down).

Now that water issues are becoming national and global problems, people are becoming involved on the federal level. Scanning headlines the other day I came across an article from the LA Times on new climate warnings issued by Energy Secretary Steven Chu:
"I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he said. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." And, he added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.
The knock on effects of increased temperature through AGW are potentially devastating. If increasingly severe drought trends hold, there will be major disruptions to a hydrological cycle we have become dependent on for survival. One can only imagine the scenarios that can possibly be played out: California loses it's natural storage capacity for water in the High Sierra snow pack, more water is diverted from out state, forcing those states to draw down their own in-ground aquifers forcing more water diversion projects from further east. That eventually brings us to the Midwest. In the same article, Chu also warns of "water shortages plaguing the West and Upper Midwest" so in that sense it is easy to see how this easily becomes a national problem.

It also serves as a reminder that those of us living in the upper Midwest might also prepare for changes in rainfall. One of the projects I'd like to complete this upcoming summer is a rain collection and storage system. During WW2 we had victory gardens. Now, it might be a good idea to start "climate gardens" in the face of changing agriculture patterns and availability. And if we are going to do so, we may as well start now to ensure we have secure water supplies for those gardens!

EDIT: I now have all my seeds, except for the strawberries...