U.S. Agriculture And Food Supplies May Be Slammed By Global Warming, Drought

California, the nation's leading agricultural producer, may be hit particularly hard by the effects of climate change and drought, with dire consequences on the industry and our food supplies, a top Obama official said recently.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said that California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming. The Nobel-prize-winning physicist warned of detrimental water shortages in the western United States with particularly dire results in California.

California is experiencing the worst water crisis in the state's history. “We're definitely in really bad shape,” said Elissa Lynn, chief meteorologist with the California Department of Water Resources. “People can expect to pay higher prices for produce …We just don't have enough water.”

A recent University of California study estimates that 60,000 agricultural jobs and more than $1.6 billion in agriculture wages will be lost due to the drought. The study did not account for the loss in farm income, according to a new letter from congressmen to Governor Schwarzenegger.

“I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California.”

Warmer temperatures, different patterns of precipitation and runoff, and rising sea levels will profoundly affect the state’s ability to manage water supplies and other natural resources, according to the California Department of Water Resources

Published: February 11, 2009