Almond health benefit winners and losers

I am focused on places other than California water these days, but from a greater distance than I have been for most of the last six or seven years, it is increasingly either deeply farcical or truly tragic to watch a state unable to make the basic, if difficult, decision to immediately suspend any new development requiring groundwater pumping under the Sierra foothills.

At the very least!

So, with California experiencing its worst three-year drought in a 120-year history of record-keeping, here is my highly curated timeline of what’s been happening for the past six months of California’s water world:

1/ Late 2014. Governor Brown signs “groundbreaking” groundwater legislation that will not take effect until 2035 - if by then there is any water left to regulate, that is - when he will be 97, and possibly no longer Governor.

2/ April 2015. Gov. Brown more or less abandons the basic principle of co-equal goals as he mulls options now that the BDCP’s theory of “embracing scientific uncertainty” has proven to be untenable in practice. “California Department of Fish and Game Director Chuck Bonham told The Associated Press Wednesday that the project now calls for restoring 30,000 acres for wetland and wildlife habitat - down from 100,000 acres. Bonham said the amount of land targeted for environmental improvements was revised because there was ‘too much complexity’ in the original 50-year plan, given the need to get permits from federal wildlife agencies against a backdrop of uncertain future climate change impacts.” In another scenario that doesn’t start with the neoliberal definition of “complexity,” one could imagine that cuts would be in water supply-derived profit, and not in further damaging an increasingly besieged and dying habitat.

3/ Yesterday. On the bright side, some baby steps… ”[T]he state Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation Thursday (May 28th) that would make data on water wells available to the public like is done in all other Western states.” Of course, the “California Chamber of Commerce and various farm groups oppose the measure. Opponents contend ‘no beneficial purpose’ will be served for making the information public and that the measure ‘is intended to assist those trolling for lawsuits.’” Just trying to understand this opposition: do they oppose because the CoC and farm groups don’t sue people, and therefore this law’s not fair? What bullshit. Even Texas law requires this.

The geopolitical Almond:

4/ 2015. “With crops averaging over 1.5 billion pounds, double what they were in 2000, California almond growers produce over 80 percent of the world’s almond supply, while barely keeping up with rising world demand. California growers export 70 percent of what they produce to over 95 countries.” Courtesy of the Blue Diamond website

Such a beautiful plant:

5/ Future. The almond’s undeniable health benefits echo across the globe and the airwaves while they wreak havoc locally.  The almond, among the most profitable products of California agriculture, originated in the Middle East as far east as Syria, Turkey and Pakistan. Perhaps it should be grown there at the global scales needed for the Chinese and India markets, instead of in California. This would be super good for the economic and political stability of that part of the world - and California has other and higher uses for the water anyway - not to mention reduce the carbon footprint of getting snacks to market and the buckling of roads and canals in the Central Valley.

More later, but why isn’t anyone making a remake of Von Stroheim’s Greed?

Posted by John Bass on 29 May 2015 | Comments (2)


How long can something so obvious continue to avoid accountability ?

We’re living in some crazy times John.

Crazy times, wicked problems, talented lawyers.

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