Water shortage → food shortage
5.20.2013 Leave a comment
According to the New York Times:
Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the [High Plains Aquifer] no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.
And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.
This is in many ways a slow-motion crisis — decades in the making, imminent for some, years or decades away for others, hitting one farm but leaving an adjacent one untouched. But across the rolling plains and tarmac-flat farmland near the Kansas-Colorado border, the effects of depletion are evident everywhere. Highway bridges span arid stream beds. Most of the creeks and rivers that once veined the land have dried up as 60 years of pumping have pulled groundwater levels down by scores and even hundreds of feet.
On some farms, big center-pivot irrigators — the spindly rigs that create the emerald circles of cropland familiar to anyone flying over the region — now are watering only a half-circle. On others, they sit idle altogether.
The emergence of factory farming after World War Two is the culprit in this disaster. Driven by profit-seeking investment, made sensible by blissful ignorance about our place in nature, farmers depleted the water table by using this finite resource without a concern for the limits set by this complex system. Droughts, perhaps reflecting the changes in the environment caused by the mechanisms driving global warming, only intensify this problem.
It appears we’ve reached another “Drill baby, drill” impasse, one that will resolve itself by destroying the economies which brought it into being.