Wells are drying up in California, causing farmers in the San Joaquin Valley to brace themselves for a dry season. Drought has returned to the San Joaquin Valley, and it’s affecting farm production on many levels. Row crops, nuts, grapes, fruit, dairy, and livestock are all deprived of water, and things only seem to worsen.
In past years farmers would improvise by drilling deeper wells to compensate for the loss of irrigation needed for sustainable farming operations. However, digging deeper wells isn’t the answer and hasn’t been working too well lately. Large farms reportedly drilled to depths of more than 1,000 feet to continue to nourish parched nut groves and citrus orchards. As a result, deeper wells have caused the land to sink up to 2 feet in some areas damaging infrastructure.
Agriculture is a $50 billion a year industry in California, which has long been a major supplier of U.S. and foreign markets. The state exports roughly $27 billion worth of agricultural commodities yearly, according to statistics produced by the University of California, Davis, Agricultural Issues Center.
Amid the dry spell, almonds continue to be California’s top valued agricultural export. The highly desired nut raked in a mountainous $4.9 billion on foreign sales in 2019, breaking all records. Pistachios are ranked number two, with a value of around $2 billion, followed by dairy products which topped an export value of $1.8 billion in 2019.
Additionally, California’s organic production has increased in recent years and now accounts for 40% of all organic products in the U.S., which adds to the complexity of this year’s drought situation. Not only will organic crops require water, but they will also require an awful lot. According to statistics produced by the CDFA in the agency’s 2019-2010 California Agricultural Organic Report, organic crop production has increased in the state by 44%, which means more farmland and more water.
In 2019, organic farmers alone produced crops on a total of 2,590,328 acres of farmland in California. If we run the math using standard crop water consumption levels of 1,140,401 gallons of water per crop acre, 2.9 trillion gallons of water are needed yearly to hydrate organic crops sufficiently. Just think, it takes 15 gallons of water to yield one handful of almonds.
A report out of the Wall Street Journal points out that just one cubic foot of soil holds nearly seven and a half gallons of water.
“One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water, and one acre measures 43,560 square feet,” concludes the report. “Irrigating a full acre to a depth of 3.5 feet over one growing season would consume 1,140,401 gallons of water.”
With all of that, we must analyze the reality of the matter, which is that many U.S. consumers are reliant on California produce. Over one-third of the nation’s vegetables and over two-thirds of the nation’s fruit supplies derive from the Golden State, which can further compound the problem and add to food insecurity. Never mind, experts are now warning that the Earth may have reach climate tipping points.
Extreme climate, sea-level rise, and biodiversity loss are all unfolding at unprecedented rates. A 2019 report authored by Timothy M. Lenton lends evidence that Earth has reached nine climate tipping points, including the melting of Arctic permafrost, loss of tropical reefs, and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. The report published by Nature.com affirms that “deforestation and climate change are destabilizing the Amazon — the world’s largest rainforest, which is home to one in ten known species.”
“With the Arctic warming at least twice as quickly as the global average, the boreal forest in the subarctic is increasingly vulnerable… warming has triggered large-scale insect disturbances and an increase in fires that have led to dieback of North American boreal forests, potentially turning some regions from a carbon sink to a carbon source,” writes Lenton. “Permafrost across the Arctic is beginning to irreversibly thaw and release carbon dioxide and methane — a greenhouse gas that is around 30 times more potent than CO2over a 100-year period.”
The evidence these tipping points are advancing has mounted over the past decade, which could have triggered domino effects. According to Lenton: “Ocean heatwaves have led to mass coral bleaching and to the loss of half of the shallow-water corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.”
“A staggering 99% of tropical corals are projected to be lost if global average temperature rises by 2 °C, owing to interactions between warming, ocean acidification and pollution,” he writes. “This would represent a profound loss of marine biodiversity and human livelihoods.”
In conclusion, if humans continue to impair their global life-support systems, biosphere tipping points can trigger a significant chain reaction that can release enormous amounts of carbon back into the atmosphere, which can exacerbate climate change.
Point to ponder, all of this is a reason good reason to be prepared. Food shortages and food insecurity brought on by increasing drought conditions pave the way for disaster. That’s why it’s essential to prepare ahead of time so that you will be ready in a time of crisis. Having the right attitude for survival is a must. Keep your survival priorities straight, and be prepared to deal with friends and family who don’t prep.