While flood waters lapped at the boundaries of my little academic bubble (literally, parts of Oxfordshire were under water!), other parts of the world have the opposite problem. A recent New York Times article honed in on – where else? – California. It may be January, the wet season in Pacific Coast terms, but the Golden State is already suffering from drought and wildfires. More worrysome than the unseasonal dry spell is the lack of snow accumulation, and what that means for the dry summer months. Because California receives little precipitation between June and September, say, water resources rely on snowmelt to recharge. This year, it is only at 20% of the average. Not a good sign.
This concerns farmers and ranchers, who have let their land lay fallow or had to ship in fodder rather than graze their animals on rainfed pasture. The state is the number one agricultural producer in the Union and accounts for nearly half of US-grown fruit, nuts, and vegetables. It's not news that California was destined for water scarcity problems, but reservoirs are at unprecedented and dangerously low levels. While this may not be "the norm" people are used to, perhaps it is the "new norm" people should expect.
If we take one UK Councillor at his word (in response to England's recent flooding), then California is likely experiencing such natural catastrophe because of legalising gay marriage. Phew. Apparently, there are crazies in every country. Better yet, maybe California should take some lessons from the growing number of innovations in agricultural water use!