California Drought: Three stories, three responses — and ramifications

Now that —

Nearly 80% of California now under extreme drought conditions


California Drought Threatens Food Supply of All Americans

— we might stop to consider how we respond in such long emergencies. And of course, what are the ramifications of this and other climate changes, not just locally in California, but elsewhere in the U.S.

Meanwhile, here are three stories about how humans in California are either consciously responding or unconsciously reacting.

In the first story, it appears that the farmers and their fellows are trying to help each other cope with the immediacy of the drought, its ramifications for sheer survival.

• In the Central Valley —

California Drought Imperils A Dream


Sean Geivet had known the news was going to be bad. It had been the driest 13-month period in more than 100 years on the winter day the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced water allocations. The Terra Bella Irrigation District manager ran through options in his head.

If the feds said a 25% allocation, most of the area’s 700 citrus growers could still bring in a crop. If it was 10%, that was enough to at least keep the trees alive and try again next year.

He was so lost in thought that a deputy pulled him over for speeding.

“There must have been something in my face — he asked me what had happened. I told him I was about to hear for the first time in our history that we wouldn’t have water,” Geivet said.

He didn’t get a ticket, but 20 minutes later he sat in his office trying to digest news worse than he’d imagined.

“With zero percent, there are no options. The citrus trees are dead by July,” he said. “The nut trees stop producing.”


* * *


The second story shows how drought, and other possibly engineered, at least in part, weather extremes, can both highlight how in many urban and especially expensive, spread out surburban environments, we have split apart from one another, live separate, even gated lives, and “snitch” on our neighbors when invited — all conveniently made-to-order for the gradual rollout of Agenda 21 plans to control the world in every way.

• In Los Angeles —

Californians Keep Up with the Joneses Water Use


In five months since the drought emergency was declared, Californians have cut their water consumption only 5 percent compared with recent years, according to state officials — a far cry from the 20 percent that Gov. Jerry Brown called for in January.

So, faced with apparent indifference to stern warnings from state leaders and media alarms, cities across California have encouraged residents to tattle on their neighbors for wasting water — and the residents have responded in droves. Sacramento, for instance, has received more than 6,000 reports of water waste this year, up twentyfold from last year.


* * *


And the third story, while not specifically about water, demonstrates the whole systems permacultural approach needed to regenerate our Mother Earth. Each time we think in this comprehensive manner, and then apply what we’ve learned, many different aspects rearrange; currents of all kinds start to flow where they should, capture and hold in storage where they should — including water. By sequestering carbon in transformed grasslands, we also hold what water does fall.

• In Northern California Grasslands

California Ranchers Tackle the Climate Crisis One Pasture at A Time


Wick wasn’t always a climate activist. He worked as a carpenter and construction project manager, then married into the wealthy Rathmann family. (His father-in-law was the CEO of the massive biotech company Amgen.) When Wick and his wife, Peggy, moved out to their ranch 16 years ago, they were simply looking for more space for an art studio.

But in 2007, Wick started to worry about global warming. “I couldn’t sleep at night,” Wick says. “I was terrified.” Instead of letting these anxieties continue to paralyze him, he decided to do something about it.

Wick thought about the natural cycle he saw on his ranch. Plants grow by converting sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. Each blade of grass, he explains, is like a little straw that sucks carbon out of the air and into the plant’s tissues. When the roots eventually decompose, some of the organic material — made primarily of carbon — remains in the soil and becomes protected from further decomposition.

Was there a way, Wick wondered, to make grasses on rangelands amass more carbon, pulling it out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in the soil? Rangelands cover 770 million acres of the United States and make up about one-third of the planet’s ice-free land surface. If these ecosystems could be managed, on a large scale, to store more carbon, it would cause a notable reduction in global warming.


* * *

As climate change continues, and most likely intensifies, we will each be called upon to become as conscious as possible of our own reactive tendencies, and to aim to consider the welfare of not just other humans, but the entire mysterious biosphere in which we are all embedded. This transformation of the selfish, competitive tendencies that have been bred into western culture for hundreds (thousands?) of years is perhaps the most important — and deepest, hardest — single shift needed in order to, if not survive, then at least to know that if we don’t survive, it will not be because we did not deserve to.


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0 Responses to California Drought: Three stories, three responses — and ramifications

  1. Kate ahimsa says:

    Drought in California? I doubt it! Just look at all of those beautiful golf courses with their little ponds. No drought in sight.

  2. Cnawan Fahey says:

    The ranch article – sequestering more carbon in pasture ground by increasing the volume of decomposed plant roots, through the application of compost so the plants draw more carbon from the air – and at the same time reducing the amount of methane that is being emitted into the air because composting the waste instead of using the usual waste management practices produces less methane…brilliant. The study took into account so many environmental impact factors….again, brilliant. Great article. The California drought, like so many other ecological developments, makes the specter of climate change loom so large… so very large….

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