[VIDEO] Despite Using 80% of Resources, Big Agriculture is Spared Water Restrictions in California
In its fourth year of drought, California is scrambling to create solutions to the crisis. This Wednesday, April 1, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25 percent reduction of water as one way to fight it. The reductions, however, are aimed at the urban sector, sparing California’s large agriculture sector—which uses 80% of the state’s water supply.
In an interview on the independent news channel, Democracy Now!, journalist Mark Hertsgaard expands on his article in the Daily Beast, “How Growers Gamed California’s Drought,” providing perspective on Wednesday’s announcement.
According to Hertsgaardt, who spoke to governor aides, instead of an order for agricultural businesses to reduce their use of water by a quarter, they have been asked to create plans to reduce their use of underground aquifer water in the future. In California, when not enough rain water falls, farmers—big and small—resort to drilling into the earth to access underground water. In normal years, 40% of the water that agribusiness uses comes from underground. During a drought, like the current one, 60% of agribusiness’s water is sourced from underground. However, there is a danger to this practice.
“[T]he more that you go down and use that groundwater and suck it up like a straw, the greater the danger is that you collapse those aquifers underground, that they compress, and you essentially have a situation where they are rendered barren in perpetuity…” stated Hertsgaardt
Two highly problematic crops currently being grown by Big Agriculture are almonds and pistachios, and to a lesser extent, alfalfa. These crops are highly “thirsty” plants, meaning that they require significantly more water than others. In California, the vast majority—if not all of it—of almond and pistachio crops are not consumed in California. Instead, they are exported out-of-state and to China.
One of these growers is the company Paramount Farms, owned by Stewart Reznick. Reznick is a big bi-partisan contributor of campaign money.
According to Hertsgaard, experts assert that the water in California is underpriced. Hertsgaard believes that raising the price of water could solve the California water crisis. Big farming operations are profiting from cheap water prices by planting more trees and developing more acreage, allowing them to grow higher volumes of produce, thus selling larger quantities.
“If we did price [water] properly, which means a little bit higher, there are enormous strides that California could be taking with water efficiency. We literally could, essentially, wipe out the effects of the drought in California — 22 percent decrease in water consumption in the agricultural areas, which would be roughly the equivalent of the amount of surface water that the farmers did not have last year because of the drought. So, there is a lot that can be technologically, but until you get the pricing right, and the political economy of this straight, we are not going to see those thing,” stated the reporter.
As more severe consequences of California’s drought become evident, the state takes more and more unprecedented measures. Apparently, it’s avoiding taking the one measure that can solve the crisis once and for all—raising the price of water—in order to avoid Big Agriculture from feeling the pain coming to all common Californians.
"The point here is not to demonize agriculture, or almonds for that matter. The point is, let’s get the pricing right, and let’s treat everyone fairly. We can have a prosperous agricultural sector in California, and we need to. Agriculture is major — California is an agricultural superpower; it produces half of the fruits and vegetables and nuts that are consumed in the United States, but we can’t keep doing that at the expense of our long-term water future," stated Hertsgaard
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G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”