Earth News Journal 35: Drought-Stricken California

Water scarcity is devastating the land of California, and President Obama is proposing additional federal government welfare packages for the flailing farmers, according to a recent article from The New York Times.

Drought has plagued the state of California for the majority of the 2013-2014 winter season, making it the most severe drought in modern history. Mr. Obama, who visited state representatives in California on Friday, February 14, has pledged “$183 million from existing federal funds for drought relief programs in California.”

Accompanying the president were the state’s top Democrats, as Mr. Obama attempted to convince rural farmers that climate changes are, in part, to blame for the drought. “We’re going to have to figure out how to play a different game,” Mr. Obama said, addressing the difficulties of dealing with conflicting water policies in a state torn in local government. “We can’t afford years of litigation and no real action.”

Mr. Obama advocated for climate change while in California, as well, “drawing links to the drought as well as hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean” to the omnipresent global warming phenomenon. The president has recently asked Congress for an additional $1 billion in funding a ‘climate resiliency’ program, in order “to help communities invest in research, development, and new infrastructure to prepare for climate disasters.”

After visiting a barren farm along his California travels, Mr. Obama declared, “A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, [and] floods are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher.”

California’s Central Valley has been one area of pressing concern, since it represents the Californian ‘Bread Basket’ but also a battleground for crucial Democrat and Republican water policies. The Republicans have recently passed legislation to provide more water to the Central Valley, at the expense of the already environmentally fragile San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. By pumping more water out of the Delta, Democrats are concerned that it will “hurt environmental protections,” claiming that the move was just a “water grab.”

President Obama has been attempting to sell climate change to rural Americans over the past few weeks, most recently passing a “sweeping farm bill” that spawns “the creation of seven regional ‘climate hubs’ aimed at helping farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change.”

Still, there are global warming skeptics, individuals who believe California’s current drought has no connection to increases in greenhouse gas emissions or rising global temperatures. Said Devin Nunes, a Republican representative of Fresno, “Global warming is nonsense.”

Nunes blames the federal government for “shutting off portions of California’s system of water irrigation and storage, and diverting water into a program for freshwater salmon.” To quote Nunes, “There was plenty of water. This has nothing to do with drought. They can blame global warming all they want, but this is about mathematics and engineering.”

Reflection

At this point, after researching various elements of the climate change debate in AP Environmental Science, I still believe that global warming is an actual international phenomenon. I do not, however, propose that the United States is going to capsize like the Titanic, or that every animal species will die out as temperatures increase; I am not floundering in HELP! IT’S GLOBAL WARMING delusions. But to me, I believe that there is insurmountable evidence that there is something going on with our Earth that is partially in affect after careless human consumption prevailed for too long. It’s not shameful that we humans discovered how to use the world to our upmost advantage (energy, technology, transportation), but I think we got carried away – too fast for us to truly evaluate the caliber of our decisions. Yes, was coal an effective heating resource as humans migrated to higher altitudes / latitudes, but did we know that the combustion of coal and other underground deposits is so detrimental to the atmosphere? No, most likely not. But now we do. What aggravates me with current policy makers is that we know that the burning of fossil fuels produces an undesirable effect on our home planet. We can fix that. I’d like to see the knowledge that scientists have accumulated over the past decade, in regards to human effects on biodiversity and climate changes, and see it implemented into policies. We cannot change our decision to rely upon non-renewable sources of energy – that’s the past. But we can alter our dependence for future users, now that we know the consequences. And to those that believe “global warming is nonsense,” my response is: “How can you refuse to see what’s right in front of you?” Climate change is manifesting in front our very culture, and yet there are still those who wallow in ignorance, in a refusal to acknowledge any wrong-doing on human’s part. I’ll stop for now, before I get too carried away, but my passion for preserving the environment does not end here.  

Onishi, Norimitsu, and Coral Davenport. “Obama Announces Aid for Drought-Stricken California.” The New York Times. N.p., 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.

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