Friday, January 15, 2010

Hard times in California (again)

I have a confession to make: like many others, I tend to live in my own little world and not keep up with so much of importance that's going on around me. I vacillate between thinking this is good for my mental health and feeling like a real loser for not have a broader picture of the world I live in.

Just before we left for this last trip, I saw a report on the national news about the drought in California and specifically, how hard it has hit the farmers of the central valley. This valley has, historically, provided a significant portion of the food we see in our stores. I knew that many acres of rich farmland have been sacrificed for housing developments, but somehow missed the news that things were so bad that many farmers aren't able to grow their crops. Featured on the program was a man who was, sadly, shoving 3-4 almond trees at a time in a high powered shredder because he had no water and his grove had died. The soil looked like the silty dust I've seen in photographs of the dust bowl during the depression (another topic). So what you ask? Well, this means you'll be eating more food grown in China and other great places, that's what.

Then, after leaving Winslow, we drove across the Hoover Dam. I know I posted a photograph of the dam last year and having just checked back, regretfully, it did not include a shot of the water line in Lake Mead. Here is one taken just last week. California, I learned afterward, is in its third year of drought, and is, at "critical", only one step below the worst possible state it can be in.

Again, I recalled Marc Reisner's accounting of how the water rights of the west were settled, "Cadillac Desert". While it was written in 1986, it is still relevant.

P.S. It doesn't look good for us here in Taos this winter, either. No new snow (to speak of) in weeks. Driving into town on Tuesday, the peaks have only a dirty dusting of white on the very tops. Everyone better buckle down, it's going to be a bumpy ride ahead.


Anonymous said...

It is bad. Must pick up the book Cadillac Desert. Here we have burn bans even though rain has fallen lately, some snow last week. I know the thought process to leave the news off, no more NYT articles, etc. Hope the mountain gets snow. -Jack

Taos Sunflower said...

Yes, I went to sleep last night thinking about the fact that Texas has its own drought problems. Perhaps the moisture that's going to south of Taos this year will reach you and help somewhat. Snow predicted for us mid week next, hope it's not bar talk.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow!!!
I too tend to live in my own "world". I didn't even know there was a drought!
Those pictures are frightening.
Hope you had fun in Cali.