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Drought Now Covers 100 Percent of California - Alexis Madrigal - The Atlantic Cities

Drought Now Covers 100 Percent of California Alexis Madrigal The Atlantic Cities

And the state's hydrological conditions might be worse than they look here. Snowpack serves as a natural reservoir, allowing humans to capture the runoff during the long California dry season. If it's warmer, though, more precipitation falls as rain, instead of snow, eliminating the storage in the mountains. 

And that's what's happening this year. While precipitation in the northern Sierras is running at 60 percent of normal, the snowpack is sitting at 13 percent of normal in the northern Sierras and 22 percent statewide. It's melting quickly, too, thanks to hotter than normal temperatures.


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California's drought has finished its conquest of the state: 100 percent of the land here is now in a drought condition, and 96 percent of it is in a severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.

"This week marks the first time in the 15-year history of the USDM that 100 percent of California was in moderate to exceptional drought," writes NOAA's Richard Heim in a drought monitoring report.

It's gotten this bad, despite March's decent rains.

It's really bad here, Geege. And since we produce so much produce... We affect everyone.

Americans will have to do a work-around.

  • California is having a drought, in case you didn’t hear. For decades, most grocery stores and restaurants have relied on what has been the nation’s most productive agricultural region to grow much of the country’s produce. But the state isn’t just having a dry year. It’s having a mostly dry decade, as forecast by climate change models. Water is scarce for irrigation and fruit and vegetable production is down.

The situation isn’t likely to get better in the next few years. So it’s time to increase fruit and vegetable production in other regions along with the processing and distribution companies to support it. Florida, Maryland, Michigan, the Carolinas and many other states are rapidly seeing their food industry’s suddenly become players in national markets as the smartest companies start to spread their bets, and purchase orders, outside of California.

  • We are facing a choice about what to grow on millions of acres of farmland, thanks to government action, just not the farm bill. Most farmland in the US has been used to grow corn and soybeans. But the market for both is disappearing. The upcoming decision to eliminate remaining trans fats will eliminate the market for about 4 million acres of soybeans used to make fats and oils. The reduction in the federal biofuels mandate also takes away the market for about 3 million acres of soy. And the decision by China and other countries not to import GMO corn and soy from the US eliminates a $6 billion export market.

That’s far more farmland than we need to grow all the fruits and vegetables are country needs to eat, according to a recent study by Jeffrey O’Hara from the Union of Concerned Scientists, who will join me at the roundtable.

"Most farmland in the US has been used to grow corn and soybeans." <--- Why?!

Government subsidies.

Are we finally in a year where we can consider stopping that?

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