On April 1, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown ordered officials to impose mandatory water restrictions in his drought stricken state for the first time in history. The news was carried around the world. “Climate change” was named as the culprit — and it is.
Glaciers are melting in the arctic and drastically-reduced snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains has lowered the amount of run-off that the state depends on for water renewal. But there’s another side to this story and it’s this: human abuse and mismanagement of water is actually a cause of climate change, and that needs to be placed at the center of our thinking about environmental destruction and regeneration.
In this sense, California is the ‘canary in the coalmine’ of a growing water crisis, and what’s happening there shows why all of us must transform our thinking, action, and relationships to this most precious of resources.
For decades, there has been massive engineering of the state’s water supplies through pipelines, canals and aqueducts in order to supply a small number of powerful farmers inCalifornia’s Central Valley. Eighty percent of all water in California goes to agriculture, much of it to grow water-intensive crops for export. Alfalfa hay, for example, which is mostly exported to Japan, uses 15 per cent of the state’s water. Almonds (80 per cent of the world’s production)use another 10 per cent.