The Science of California’s Unprecedented Drought – Scientific American

Realistically, though, it is hard to imagine a state as innovative as California simply allowing the pride of its fields to disappear. More than a third of the Central Valley’s agriculture is in grapes and tree crops—almonds, walnuts, pistachios, citrus—that represent an enormous investment than can take as long as seven years after planting to pay off. Farmers are already turning to a vigorous high-tech industry that makes GPS-equipped irrigators, weather-based irrigation, soil-moisture sensors and other agroelectronics designed to reduce water use. Even more radically, in June the state took the unthinkable step of placing water restrictions on California’s agricultural royalty—those who hold Gold Rush–era riparian water rights in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys that have long been considered inviolate. It is easy to get the sense, traveling around California, that the pain—but also the creative thinking—has only begun.

The drought is transforming California in almost every conceivable way—meteorologically, geologically, biologically, agriculturally, socially, economically and politically. The combination of low moisture and high temperature most likely will be the condition of the future. Even when sporadic wet years occur, the inexorably warming climate assures that precipitation will fall not as heavy snowpack that parcels out water slowly but as crashing torrents of rain. That is why last November Californians voted for Proposition 1—more than $7 billion for water infrastructure, almost half of which will go to building new dams and reservoirs—a public works project of massive proportions. And therein lies the silver lining in the California drought: one person’s cost is another’s opportunity.

Source: The Science of California’s Unprecedented Drought – Scientific American. Wishful thinking of the highest order, it seems to me.