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: http://signon.org/sign/we-are-the-clean-99?source=c.em.cp&r_by=487176 . 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 : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/index.php?author=mary-ellen-harte
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 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/us/high-plains-aquifer-dwindles-hurting-farmers.html?_r=2&
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