Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Limits? What Limits?

The Times has a story today about the housing boom in California, where they are building 280,000 new units just in Sacramento. Demand is huge, which is why housing prices in the Bay area are the nation's highest and those in Los Angeles are not far behind.

Of course California is also in the middle of a horrible drought, and the state has set a target of reducing household water consumption by 32 percent. People are worried that the twentieth century was an unusually wet time in California's history, and that the next several decades may see a return to lower rainfall totals. There is enough water in California to supply all these new households, but only by taking it away from somewhere else. More water for households means less for farmers or salmon streams. From Dallas to Sacramento, pretty much all of the water in the southwestern U.S. is claimed by somebody. I keep wondering, when will this start to have an impact on how Americans live? Will people ever start factoring the availability of water into their decisions about where to live or where to put their businesses? And what about farming; in America thousands of acres of farmland go out of  production every year in the well-watered east, as we rely more and more on food produced on irrigated fields in the west. When will that change?

Thirty years ago I thought the change was imminent, and that we would soon see people in Arizona forced to give up their lawns and move back east in search of something green. But it certainly hasn't happened yet.

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