California's nightmarish drought won't only affect West Coasters. From Mother Jones comes this map showing how the driest year in the past half millenium will affect the not just the state but what's available in your local supermarket.
Some 80% of California's "developed water" — that's infrastructure-slang for water that's been moved from its original source via waterworks like pipes and aqueducts — goes to the state's sprawling farms, which supply nearly half of all U.S. fruits, veggies, and nuts. The worst-hit parts of the state, which are experiencing exceptional or extreme dryness, are epicenters of U.S. production of pistachios, grapes, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, and other crops, all of which will soon likely be much more expensive.
According to Jay Lund of the University of California-Davis, that shortage of water may soon mean that agriculture will be leaving California and heading to the still-rather-dry-but-better Midwest, where agricultural outfits will see less pressure to dole out high tolls for access to water. Some crops have already left, like cotton, where production has dropped 46% between 2006 and 2010. The economic impact of idle farms will run as high as $5 billion, according to the California Farm Bureau.
"Many groundwater basins in California are contaminated, for example with nitrates from over application of nitrogen fertilizer or concentrated animal feeding operations, with industrial chemicals, with chemicals from oil extraction or due to natural contaminants with chemicals such as arsenic," said Center for Climate Change and Health in Oakland co-director Linda Rudolph.
Because California's livestock industry relies on locally grown feed, the animal industry in the state will also suffer, according to the California Institute of Water Resource's Doug Parker. "In the long term, it could change some of the cropping patterns in California, especially for the animal industry. Without water to grow it, you really end up just having to sell off animals."
"The forecasts are not great for this year and even the longer term ones are showing a higher probability than normal of drought."
How bad is the drought? California is finally expecting rain — perhaps more this week than the entire past eight months combined. But even with such a massive storm, the state is still far below average rainfall, it's likely too late for the 14.62% of California's landmass experiencing the worst of it. That might explain why people are praying.