Energy, News, and Climate / News / Policy / Science

The California Drought: why I care and implications for sustainability

The current drought in California has taken over the environmental sciences news headlines (not that there are a whole lot of environmental science headlines in the first place…) with the recent announcement of drastic mandatory cutbacks in water issued by the state’s governor.  Having lived on the east coast for the last 20 years of my life, I don’t really pay all that much attention to the western states (I know I should..but there are only a limited number of hours in the day and I like sleep).  But I figured writing for the blog would be a good way to expand my geographical horizons and take a look at some issues in California, like the drought, and explore how this issue may actually have relevance to my water saturated life here in North Carolina (there’s a chance of rain in the forecast for the next 7 days).

Yikes.  That's a big difference.  Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

Yikes. That’s a big difference (Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post).

What caught my eye first were almonds.  I love almonds.  I eat them at least twice a day (plus almond milk and even almond flour), which is bad, because almonds LOVE water.  And they specifically love California water, where a thriving almond industry has exploded with the exploding almond market (pretty sure I’ve seen at least two almond advertisements in every magazine I’ve read as of late).  I immediately felt guilty.  Despite living on the east coast, in this globalized world, I was directly contributing to the California drought crisis (gasp).

Whose to blame in the California drought crisis?  A line-up of some key individuals (photo courtesy of NPR).

Whose to blame in the California drought crisis? A line-up of some key individuals (photo courtesy of NPR).

Which got me thinking about my place in the greater environmental world at large.  Who really knows the environmental impact of my daily food decisions on far flung places like California, Mexico, or further?  And what do I do about it?  Whose responsibility is it to make sure these food products are environmentally sustainable?  Me?  The farmer?  The distributor buying the food product?  I don’t think anybody has a firm answer (and maybe it’s the responsibility of all those listed), but I can’t help but think we as individuals should care and should be aware of our environmental impact via food.

And maybe this awareness is in baby steps.  Maybe I stop buying almonds to eat as a snack and switch to a more sustainable nut or local fruit.  I’ll start growing my own lettuce again and work on buying more local produce.  And maybe, if we collectively start to make these little changes, we can help (at least in a small way) to alleviate the drought crisis in California, even if we don’t actually live there.

I realize this was kind of a rant/tangent post, for which I apologize.  But without conversation or awareness, how do we know how to make changes?  So let’s hear your thoughts; let’s start the conversation.  What are other ways the California drought is affecting you?  What can we do to ensure a sustainable water source in general?  Do you think change can happen on the individual level or are will it take a greater institutional change to make a difference?

Inspiration drawn from:

NY Times Science

The Salt from NPR

2 thoughts on “The California Drought: why I care and implications for sustainability

  1. Pingback: El Niño 101 | UNder the C

  2. Pingback: What comes around, goes around | UNder the C

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