Climate Change, Unsustainable Irrigation Drying Up US Cropland

The High Plains aquifer is shrinking and in some parts drying up, turning midwest cropland into dusty fields, reports  Michael Wines at the New York Times. The reasons are basically two-fold: market prices for corn have driven farmers to plant more of this thirsty crop and accelerate the pumping out of this finite pocket of water. Meanwhile, more extreme droughts, of the type predicted under continuing climate change, two words never mentioned in the article, have forced many to pump more water to make up for the lack of rain, especially in the southern part of the aquifer, which extends from Nebraska to Texas. Many farms will switch to fewer crops or livestock requiring far less water. The natural refilling of the aquifer will take hundreds to thousands of years. As is often the case, climate change is occurring as humans mismanage finite resources for short term gain, at the expense of their descendents. Indeed, this story is all too similar to the crash of agriculture in southern Australia in recent years, where extreme droughts and water mismanagement caused many farms to fail.

Join the swelling numbers of voters TELLING Congress they’ll vote for Clean Energy candidates here: . This is an ongoing campaign (the next Congressional election is in 2 years!) so please, spread the word. It’s our way of telling Congress that a strong clean energy voting bloc is out there. This is how YOU can make a difference.

For more on Climate Change, check out my weekly column at the HuffingtonPost, Climate Change This Week :


Wells dry, fertile US plains turn to dust. The High Plains aquifer, which lies beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle, is crucial for farmers needing irrigation. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought. New York Times


Shrinkage Of US Aquifers Greatly Accelerated Between 2000 And 2008

Drop in US underground water levels has accelerated: USGS. Water levels in U.S. aquifers, the vast underground storage areas tapped for agriculture, energy and human consumption, between 2000 and 2008 dropped at a rate that was almost three times as great as any time during the 20th century, U.S. officials said on Monday. Reuters

About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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1 Response to Climate Change, Unsustainable Irrigation Drying Up US Cropland

  1. Last summer, every section of the Midwest was dry… except for right where we live. People need to be educated (and re-educated) on this… obviously. Additionally, we need to do more (via education, etc.) regarding lowering the population globally; that would have a huge impact… but governments usually do not deal with that kind of thing. Indifference seems to be the norm regarding a lot of this.

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