Why More Americans Should Be Concerned about the California Drought

Are you concerned about the California drought? Have you even heard about it? Do you think it’s not a big deal? Do you think it doesn’t affect you because you don’t live in California? Last question: Do you like to eat artichokes, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, lettuce, canned spinach, canned tomatoes, almonds, apricots, avocados, strawberries, dates, figs, grapes, kiwifruit, lemons, nectarines, olives, peaches, pistachios, plums, or walnuts?

If you answered “yes” to that last question, then your answers to the previous questions don’t matter. You should be concerned about the California drought. Why? Because California produces more than 75% of the United States’ share of each one of those items. In fact, most of those items I listed are almost exclusively grown in California, with over 90% of the United States’ share coming from California. (source: CDFA Agriculture Statistics Review 2013–2014)

So now you might be thinking, “Ok, you’ve somewhat caught my attention, but is the drought really that serious?” I’ll let these before and after photos from 2011 (left) and 2014 (right) of Lake Oroville speak for themselves:

The Green Bridge over Lake Oroville near the Bidwell Marina (left: 2011, right: 2014)
The marina at Lake Oroville (left: 2011, right: 2014)
The Enterprise Bridge over Lake Oroville in Butte County, California (left: 2011, right: 2014)

Now do I have your attention? Most people have no idea of the seriousness of this drought. There are many more photos like this all over the internet. Are you more of a numbers person? Well, a recent study found that the western United States has lost 63 trillion gallons of water during this drought. That’s about 430 million times more water than the average American family uses in an entire year.

So what can you do about it? There are many online resources with plenty of information about how you can help during a drought. I’m not going to repeat everything that has already been said elsewhere. It’s not hard to do your part. You could start by going to ca.gov/drought and SaveOurH2O.org and reading all about the drought what you can do to help.

You could also stop pouring buckets of water on your head.

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