A couple of you mentioned the flooding here yesterday and the day before, brought on by the sort of torrential rains you don’t see every day. Several inches fell over the course of the day, and the freeways, which around here were built in that urban-canyon style, turned into rivers. It was truly remarkable — some had enough water pooled in underpasses to safely hold a diving competition.
We came through it bone-dry. Don’t know how. We just did.
So my head was thinking water when I heard this NPR story Tuesday morning. It touches on some geography most of us know, Arizona, which is having an unusually wet year, and where farmers are growing so much alfalfa they are, I shit you not, shipping it to China to feed cows in that country’s burgeoning dairy industry.
Not far away, California cooks like bacon in a skillet, but that can’t be shipped there, and Arizona farmers must use their entire allotment or risk losing it. It’s an insane situation, summed up by one dim-bulb farmer trying to argue it’s better to ship hay to China than fill Hollywood swimming pools so movie stars can sit around them and “drink hot toddies.” (Yep.)
Why is anyone growing alfalfa in goddamn Arizona? It makes less sense than a golf course.
Glennon says, exporting more and more alfalfa is unsustainable – a classic example of an economic dilemma known as the tragedy of the commons. Centuries ago, farmers in Europe grazed their cows on common ground. Each farmer acted rationally in their own self-interest, but together they depleted the common resource -grass. In this case, self-interest is a record high price for alfalfa. The common resource is water.
…Agriculture uses 80 percent of Colorado River water. Cities want more of it. But there’s no incentive for farmers to conserve water. Under the Byzantine law of the river, farmers like Dave Sharp don’t even have the option to use less water. If he doesn’t use his allotment, he loses it.
We in the wet regions of Michigan can make no sense of this. At all.
Back to the office tomorrow for a big staff meeting, so I’m going to bed early. Just a little bloggage:
You gotta love a woman willing to build in, and live in, a place like this.
The photos coming out of the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., are shocking. Why isn’t this a bigger story?
Happy hump day, all. However you spend it.