Posts Tagged Weather
November 10, 2014
NASA Warns California Drought Could Threaten U.S. Food Supply: “There will be some definite changes”
November 4, 2014
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has sounded a stark warning over California’s sustained drought, publishing its latest findings where satellite surveys show a rapidly depleting groundwater supply.
And with California as the United States’ most valuable agricultural state, and thus key to America’s food supply (and much of the world’s as well) that could mean drastic consequences for food commodity prices and potential shortages.
A new Nature Climate Change piece, “The global groundwater crisis,” by James Famiglietti, a leading hydrologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, warns that “most of the major aquifers in the world’s arid and semi-arid zones, that is, in the dry parts of the world that rely most heavily on groundwater, are experiencing rapid rates of groundwater depletion.”
The groundwater at some of the world’s largest aquifers — in the U.S. High Plains, California’s Central Valley, China, India, and elsewhere — is being pumped out “at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished.”
The most worrisome fact: “nearly all of these underlie the word’s great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity.”
NASA’s satellite map shows the loss of weight height just in the past three years:
According to NASA:
“California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 km3 of total water per year since 2011 — more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually — over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley.”
Yes, of course, California is a desert. So, that isn’t helping things. But it was reformed into a thriving economy by controversial and historically corrupt irrigation scheme, and is now vital to U.S. food security.
The result of these dangerous conditions is, not surprisingly, higher commodity prices – including food and water – creating higher profits for the companies that provide these services. Privatized water could drive prices even higher.
There are storm clouds gathering, so to speak, but they aren’t bringing rain.
In July, California’s state government economic report was already warning of losses in the billions for farmers feeling the weight of drought conditions, though it claimed the national food system would be little impacted.
However, time has made that claim ring hollow. In August, Bloomberg reported on the “global reverberations” occurring because of the drought in California:
“It’s a really big deal,” Sumner said. “Some crops simply grow better here than anyplace else, and our location gives us access to markets you don’t have elsewhere.”
The success of California agriculture was built in large part on advances in irrigation that allowed the state to expand beyond wheat, which flourishes in dry climates. It’s now the U.S.’s top dairy producer and grows half the country’s fruits, vegetables and nuts.
“Water has allowed us to grow more valuable crops,” Sumner said. “Now, we have fruits and vegetables and North Dakota grows our wheat. Without irrigation, we’d be North Dakota.”
“There will be some definite changes, probably structural changes, to the entire industry” as drought persists, said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “Farmers have made changes. They’ve shifted. This is what farmers do.”
Locals in California are now reporting everything from reduced availability of produce, to higher prices in restaurants and reduced hours and activity at farmer’s markets and local stores.
Most farmers have cutback on what they are growing. In many cases, that means chopping down trees, orchards and not planting as many fields:
“I was just talking to a farmer today who grows olives and almonds. Expect prices of almonds to skyrocket because they’re cutting the trees down because they don’t have enough water to keep them alive,” said Helstrom.
California is by no means the only place facing life threatening shortages. There are similarly alarming trends having all across the globe, particularly in arid and semi-arid places.
Texas ranchers and farmers have been dealing with returning dust bowl conditions in the panhandle and surrounding regions, with very difficult drought conditions and conflicting urban competition for water which strain supply.
Friday, August 03, 2012
By: J. D. Heyes
[NaturalNews] Summer this year not quite the paradise you anticipated? Has the heat got you beat? Well, get used to it, say some researchers who claim that, based on key evidence, current climate conditions could become the “new normal.”
A group of 10 researchers from Oregon State University, who published their recent findings in the journal Nature Geoscience, said their findings indicate that the western part of North America suffered a chronic drought from 2000-2004, which led to the death of some forests and caused river basins to dry up.
The period, which they said was the strongest drought in eight centuries, could become stereotypical in the coming years, while now could become “the good old days.”
The researchers said such climatic extremes are the result of global warming, and that today’s weather, decades from now, will seem moderate in comparison. Climate models and precipitation projections, the team said, indicate that the current period will be close to the “wet end” of an overall drier hydroclimate during the last half of the 21st century.
“Climatic extremes such as this will cause more large-scale droughts and forest mortality, and the ability of vegetation to sequester carbon is going to decline,” said Beverly Law, a co-author of the study and a professor of global change biology and terrestrial systems science at Oregon State.
“During this drought, carbon sequestration from this region was reduced by half,” she said. “That’s a huge drop. And if global carbon emissions don’t come down, the future will be even worse.”
The Largest Natural Disaster In U.S. History: The Endless Drought Of 2012 Will Bake America Well Into August
July 15, 2012
Why is the heartland of the United States experiencing such a horrific drought right now? At the moment, approximately61 percent of the entire nation is experiencing drought conditions, and this is absolutely devastating farmers and ranchers all over the country. Less than two weeks ago I wrote an article asking what would happen if these drought conditions persisted, and now we are finding out. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created the largest natural disaster area in U.S. history. The USDA has declared 1,016 counties in 26 U.S. states to be disaster areas. The USDA declaration basically covered about half of the nation, and there is now no denying how horrible this drought really is. You can see a map of this disaster area right here. This endless drought is being compared to the nightmarish drought of 1988, and if it persists into August it could become perhaps the worst drought that America has ever seen. The USDA says that approximately 60 percent of all corn in the country is experiencing “moderate to extreme” drought conditions. If this drought does not end soon, the losses are going to be mind blowing. Already, it is estimated that farmers and ranchers have suffered billions of dollars in damage. How much worse can things get?