As California droughts intensify, ecosystems and rural communities will bear the brunt of the economic impact.
This is the worst drought the state has experienced in a century. Most of the major counties and parts of the Sierra and inland valleys are in the grip of a severe drought.
It started as early as 2011, when rains failed to arrive in a timely manner, causing massive flooding and mudslides. Since then, the state has experienced some of its worst drought conditions in nearly half a century.
The good news, however, is that the drought is now moving into its late phase. California’s historic drought is now entering into its “critical period” phase, which means we could be in for a prolonged dry with significant impacts to the state’s economy.
Here are three ways California is bearing the brunt of this drought.
1. Farmland is losing more farmland than usual
It isn’t just California counties and municipalities being impacted by the drought. Many of the largest farmlands in the state have been affected as well. Agricultural land is one area that has been significantly affected by the drought, and is particularly vulnerable to climate change.
“Agriculture and the environment go hand in hand. The soil, water and vegetation are in the greatest supply of all the resources. If there’s a lack of water or nutrients, then you’ve got a real problem,” James Taylor, an agricultural economist from the University of California Davis, told the Daily Beast.
The impact of this year’s drought is already being felt by the state as the demand for California’s agricultural exports, such as lettuce and tomatoes, is expected to decrease as a result of the drought conditions. This would mean that the crop prices could drop, meaning the agricultural exports, or the prices of those goods in a global market, will be affected.
“It doesn’t seem like it will be too dramatic of a drop, but I can see how it could be an impact,” Taylor said. “Certainly, this is one of the areas that’s most vulnerable to climate change.”
California’s agricultural economy accounts for $24 billion in total sales every year. The agricultural sector, which is responsible