Environment

The West Coast drought gives two hoots about us

February 13, 2014

The West Coast drought is no joke. The State Water Project cannot even allocate water to its 29 public water sources. This is the first time it has ceased water allocations — ever.

Not only is this drought affecting crops and grasses, but it’s affecting people, too. I mean, who doesn’t love a delicious, sweet strawberry? Or how about some walnuts? Maybe some rice? All these crops grow in California, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. If you visit Chico‘s Saturday Farmer’s Market, you’ll find many vendors selling all the above — and all fresh, too.

But these items won’t be around if farmers can’t grow them. Plus, if demands exceed supply, their prices will increase. I don’t know about you, but I hate expensive food, especially when it tastes so goddamn good.

While it may be too soon to say, climate change could be playing a role in this. If not, droughts like these are at least bound to exceed in number and deepen in severity. This drought could be the worst in 500 years. That’s historic (or gnarly as Californians would say). It’s a big fucking deal. More than 62 percent of California land is drying, NASA science says. Farmers worry that their livelihoods may cease. Many won’t have crops to harvest this season. Crops require water. Water reservoirs don’t fill themselves: Rain does. And these reservoirs are running extremely low.

Snowboarders grieve over a lost season of shredding. Skiers pout, too. Luckily, I do neither, but I have friends who do. And I actually wanted to try snowboarding at Lake Tahoe during my semester in California. So much for that.

I cover the environment, along with other breaking news, with The Orion at Chico State, and talking to these farmers, ranchers and snow-sport lovers breaks my heart. I hear random students cheerfully acknowledge the beautiful weather, and while I enjoy it myself, it still scares me. I smile at the sun, but I still look to the clouds hoping they’ll bring life to the land.

Chico received some sick rainfall earlier this week. Sure, it was a drag to ride to class in the rain. However, at least the earth has quenched some of her thirst. While it’s not nearly enough for what she needs (Hello, she’s been in a three-year drought!), it helps.

Let’s all dance a little for the rain. It may not work, but hey. It’s something.

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