California's incipient dustbowl: photos of a drought

If the before-and-after drought pics of Getty's Justin Sullivan don't make you gasp aloud, you're made of sterner stuff than I; above, Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville (now); below, 2011.

(via Kottke)

Notable Replies

  1. Did the bridge melt?

  2. this would be a good time for the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge and clean while it can be done with bulldozers instead of underwater equipment. On the other hand? it may never return, and oh well. the comments section on the article show diverse levels of comment and sadness.

  3. Maybe @TrollsOpinion (and the people who put up those signs) think congress drank all that water, or somehow redirected it to D.C. to squander it in reflecting pools.

    My guess is that "Troll's Opinion" is just an honest username. Certainly no rational person could look at California's spent reservoirs and continue to put scare quotes around the word "drought" when discussing current water resources. Even the link posted above is clearly far out of date, because it includes this little gem:

    After that, the water cutoff was blamed on “drought,” though northern reservoirs are currently full.

    Um, about that…

  4. gwwar says:

    I'm a bit confused as to how you think water should be distributed in California. Drinkable water isn't an infinite resource. Unlike oxygen, plants don't generate it for free, and yes, we are surrounded by lots of ocean water but desalination plants are extremely expensive to run. California mostly depends on snowpack, and falls back on groundwater when the years run dry. Some of these aquifers are deep and ancient and cannot be recharged by rainwater. Once you drill that water out, it's gone forever.

    80-85% of drinkable water already goes toward agriculture. Most of which is dedicated to cattle and other water intensive cash crops like almonds, which is then exported due to high demand.

    So, what would you do when a drought severe enough to move mountains hits?

  5. Yeah, nobody has so much as implied the farmers are beyond their rights in protesting. We have said their claim is nonsense: the dust bowl is not being created by congress, but by a major drought, something you all but denied when you for instance waved off climate change as a possible cause.

    You talk about resources present when the farms were established, but that's dodging the point here, that the amount of water has gone down since then. That's not congress. What is congress is preventing certain people from alleviating the consequences to themselves by directing more of what remains to their farms.

    And of course they have the right to complain. At the same time, though, if you think it's unfair for the state to determine what sort of agribusiness succeeds, you shouldn't start ones so dependent on the state. Just because it was providing a source of far-away water when they started, doesn't mean they have a right to the same when the resource becomes scarce.

    I mean, surely growing crops that use a lot of water in a drought-prone place is a risk people take on themselves, right? Since when are you people about the state bailing other people out?

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