Growing any crop in essentially a desert is foolish at best, environmental suicide at it’s worst.
Jim Gardon
1

Not sure how to respond. The gist of my piece is that a well-designed water allocation system will recalibrate your agricultural production system because water prices will better reflect the opportunity costs of that water. There are top-down design features of such a system (rules/laws/principles/regulations for dividing available water between agriculture, urban/industrial use, and environmental use) which I have only touched on, on the presumption that agricuture is a feature of Californian industry, and those rules will not be rewritten in such a significant way as to shut down large swathes of agriculture.

My understanding is around 40% of Cali water typically goes to agriculture. Maybe that number needs to be re-thought (we did this in Australia with various “caps” imposed on our major river system). I’m not in a position to say.

But my whole argument is that what’s really needed is a flexible, resilient, shock-absorbing system of water allocation that better reflects water’s opportunity cost and directs it to high valued uses. Such a system will lead to changes in what gets produced in California, and how, endogenously.

Accordingly, statements like “we [should] abandon the production of luxury food items like almonds and artichokes and focus on staple food items while we refocus food production in states that have better natural rainfall” is exactly in the opposite direction of what I’m advocating. You’re proposing top-down management of a self-organising adaptive system.

And if you think what I am proposing is politically infeasible, I’m not sure “shut-down” proposals are any more feasible. At the very least, what I am discussing can be shown to work reasonably well, as it has for us. (Not totally unproblematically, but with definite improvements over what existed prior.)

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