Saturday, August 29, 2015

Forecast 1 — Two perspectives of the California drought

A copy of the article / resource / link / book title, author, chapter etc.

First I looked at this article (50 pictures of the California drought):

Some people are letting their lawns die, others irresponsibly water them to maintain the aesthetic

Cows in a dead pasture

A dead almond monoculture — almond production = 10% of state water use

So after seeing all the dried up rivers and failing agriculture, I thought, who's dealing with this the right way? A quick search of "permaculture" and "California drought" yielded this:

A swale full of water on a farm

Your analysis of the article in regards to its impact of the future

Water scarcity — a result of a deprived ecosystem — is going to demand changes in the way we deal with meeting everyday needs, landscaping, farming, and agriculture. If we do not respond to these challenges adequately and there isn't a massive cultural shift towards small community economies, reduced consumption, and permaculture-based food production, survival cannot be guaranteed. 

As with all inequality, this will affect the poor, minorities, children, and women the hardest. The rich will continue to consume at a high rate to maintain their sense of status and self-identity. Once the ecosystems of California have run dry, the rich can easily leave. What will happen to everyone else?

The global impact, national impact, and local / personal impact

California may try to source water from other countries or import increasing amounts of food. An increased demand on other countries will shift their food production over to exports, leaving more of their people reliant on the U.S for their livelihood. And if demand becomes too great, their ecosystems will start to deplete, as well — if production tries to keep up. (I hope this is an adequate global systems analysis).

Will there be a mass migration of Californians to other parts of the United States? As California has a high concentration of wealth and I'm theorizing it will be the rich moving, will this contribute to wealth inequality in other parts of the country? Will cities become gentrified, as demand and prices rise?

Other communities need to regard California as an example and be prepared to meet the challenges of scarcity in their environments, as California will not be the only state with a drought/climate problem in the future.

Forecast the range of impact over the short term (the next 2 months to 2 years), to the long term (next 20 years to 20 + decades).

Short term: A shift towards permaculture, local economies, non-consumption, composting toilets, and water recycling. Some migration may occur. The problem may intensify.
Long term: Drastically reduced population in California. Many parts of the state have returned to desert. Perhaps some new self-reliant communities have formed.

What could you do, or could be done to create the greatest positive impact on the future

California does not export as much produce, farms make a large-scale shift towards perennial and vertical food production and cities include more greenery + landscape for water retention and run-off reduction (rain gardens?). People need to implement composting toilets, natural lawns, home rainwater harvesting, and improve their food self-reliance through small perennial gardens — and the government needs to encourage this and make land, education, and resources available.

What could you do, or could be done to create the greatest negative impact on the future

Continuation of water-intensive landscaping (LAWNS), annual plants-only gardens, flush toilets, industrial agriculture with monoculture crops, clear-cutting forests, exorbitant meat consumption, not composting organics — and so on.

“Which region of the future” does this related closest most to or does this fit in between – or perhaps a region of the future you’d like to define for yourself.

I'd call it "eco-tech." Elements include: conscious non-consumption and limiting of technology, localized economies and self-reliant communities, as well as use of natural, recycled, and/or locally-sourced materials to create ecology-smart technologies/infrastructure.


What are your biggest barriers to living sustainably? Why do you think people in California choose to water their lawns (or replace them with astroturf), even in the face of social pressure not to? Where do you think most of the water is going in their state?

1 comment:

  1. I'm really hoping that the world shifts from the concept and "value" of a green lawn to what that space really represents, which i think will be a pattern that will repeat in much of our technology. In the past, farming was how you fed yourself. To show that you had "arrived" and had wealth was to grow a lawn. You could have land space just for space and not used to sustain yourself. I'm looking forward to seeing more and more people use their front and backyard for sustainable growth and food, rather than the display of 'leisure' what the grass was supposed to represent yet I find is a source of much toil, agony, water waste, allergies, and waste of soil nutrients. I'm hoping rock and succulent gardens come into fad, along with rain gardens in areas that do get more water. Despite being able to not have to use one's land to feed one's self, people being thoughtful and using their lawns to feed each other (if they don't need it themselves and can afford not to but choose to - that will be the cultural shift I've been waiting to see happen. Long comment. You picked a favorite topic of mine. "ethical landscaping". I'm re-thinking that myself


Just keeping things on the up and up since this is for my students to communicate first.