Enviros Have A Choice to Make
By Paul H. Betancourt
Which is our biggest problem? Climate Change? Or, the Delta Smelt?
My fellow farmers and I can lower the carbon footprint for 38 million Californians by growing their food locally. But, we will need some water to do that. If not, you are going to have import boatloads of food every day to feed our people. What’s that going to do to your carbon footprint?
Look down the road- where will our food be coming from five or ten years from now? We will have more people and fewer farms. When is that ever a good equation?
The basic formula, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, is that it takes 800 gallons of water per person per day to produce their food. Multiply that number by 38 million Californians and you need 31 million acre feet of water per year to feed California. You know what is interesting? That is basically how much irrigation water California has used for the past few decades.
You can wiggle and squirm, fuss and fume all you want about farmers and water, but that is the basic number. It takes 31 million acre feet of water to produce food for California. Even if you import our food it wills till take that much water and now you are adding the carbon foot print of cargo ships chugging bunk fuel back and forth across the ocean.
For those who say ‘both’, that you want to protect the smelt and lower our carbon foot print the ball is in your court. Show us how.
The thesis of my book Ten Reasons: Finding Balance on Environmental Issues is that we need a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Current policy leans everything against the economy and I think we can see both the economy and the environment and the economy have suffered. We have cut water to our farms for decades now and fish populations continue to decline.
Again, for those who say ‘both’, that you want to protect the smelt and lower our carbon footprint the ball is in your court. Show us how.
I don’t think you can do it. The hard reality is that it takes 31 million acre feet to feed California: 800 gallons of water per person per day to produce food. Every gallon of water you cut to farms means more food you will have to import to feed our people. We are not talking about an optional industry here. We are talking a basic necessity. We can live without our smart phones or the internet. We lived without them only a few years ago. If I took away your phone for a day that would inconvenient: If I took away your food for a day that would be uncomfortable. If I took your food away for a week…
This really is not that hard. California’s farmers and farmworkers are great, hard working people. Farmers are constantly making improvements in how they manage their water supply. Tens of thousands of acres of drip systems are going in every year. But, there will never be enough drip systems to lower that number- 31 million acre feet of water to feed California.
My fellow farmers and I are proud of what we do, growing food for a hungry world. We will be glad to continue growing your food, but we are going to need some help. Until the enviros decide really are serious that climate change is their number one issue and back off on water we will all suffer. They have a choice to make. Which is our biggest problem? Climate Change? Or, the Delta Smelt?