“We never know the worth of water, till the well is dry.” — saying No. 5451, as collected and listed in Gnomologia by Thomas Fuller, M.D.
Some of the worst drought conditions in recorded history have stricken California, and this will have a blistering effect on America’s economy.
California is into its third year of severe drought, a situation that promoted U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce $9.7 million in new agriculture aid. This will top the Barack Obama Administration’s aid to the Golden State at more than $50 million dollars, a total that will undoubtedly grow because of Washington’s worries of a perfect storm — a tsunami of illegal immigrants and a dearth of water.
Last Saturday, the Los Angeles Times carried a story headlined, “California drought will only get worse, experts say.” The story reported that 80 percent of the State is suffering extreme drought, and Brian Fuchs of the National Drought Mitigation Center believes that conditions are not likely to improve. When asked if it is possible that the State is suffering its worst water shortage in 50 years, Fuchs suggested it could be the worst drought in 200 to 300 years and then understated the situation by saying, “It would be a significant event.”
Fuchs echoed what B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley told The New York Times in February, “We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years.”
An understanding of the implications of a major weather change dating back half a millennium on a crucial region of the world is difficult to understate.
The Most Precious Commodity
Economic implications in themselves from such drought have to be seriously weighed. California Ag-growers are a critical part of the State’s economy, which is the largest in the Union. Besides being the No. 1 agriculture-producing State in the U.S., California has the world’s eighth-largest economy, with a gross State product of more than $2 trillion, or more than 13 percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product. A key component to California’s economy is agriculture.
As a cattle and grain writer for my first few years out of college, I can tell you water is the key component in being able to raise livestock or grow crops. And I know the stories that my father and uncle told about the Dust Bowl and how it endured in their memory because of the personal hardship they saw.
Given that California is the fifth-largest supplier of food and agriculture commodities in the world with annual sales of more than $44 billion, a catastrophic drought will have serious implications that will be felt throughout North America and beyond.
Fortune reported last week that the drought will cost the State $2.2 billion alone this year. And if dry conditions persist as expected, that total will escalate quickly, leaving the U.S. particularly vulnerable to inflation. Already, the dollar has been severely undermined by the Federal Reserve’s campaign of buying U.S. Treasuries, creating escalation in the money supply over the past few years.