US rivers and lakes are shrinking for a surprising reason: cows

by Troy Farah, The Guardian


  • Growing crops in order to feed cows has been identified as a major cause of water shortages, according to a new analysis in Nature
  • Cattle fed crops used for beef and dairy account for 23% of all water consumption while agriculture accounts for 92% of freshwater use globally
  • It takes nearly 450 gallons of water per quarter pound of beef
  • Major metropolitan cities on the U.S. West Coast consume the most water-intensive beef and dairy products 
  • The U.S. experiences an increased risk of fish extinction due to draining water tables and toxic runoff into rivers and dried up streams
  • Brian Richter, the study’s lead author, proposed letting farmland sit idle, also known as fallowing, in order to save water 
  • Straying away from water-intensive beef and dairy operations can play a role in saving water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform includes carbon sequestration through building healthy soils by working with nature using climate-friendly management and restoration practices in agricultural soils. These practices provide many benefits including helping to conserve water. 

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Historic ‘megadrought’ underway in California, American West, new study finds

By Paul Rogers, The Mercury News


Nine Western US states have been experiencing an extended mass drought, called a “megadrought.” 

  • Scientists studied over 30,000 tree rings to determine the amount of rainfall and soil moisture over the centuries. The West’s last extended drought period was between 1576 and 1603 and the 20th century was the wettest century though this record
  • Though the megadrought is due to natural events, rising temperatures due to climate change are making drought conditions worse
  • Though there are short periods of decent rain and snowpack, they are anomalies within the bigger drought
  • Bill Patzert, a retired oceanographer and research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the best way to measure whether a drought is over in the West is to look at the level of Lake Mead, which is currently less than half full
  • California should push more water conservation and efficiency measures that were practiced during its 5-year drought as these dry conditions will come back
  • Depletion of groundwater, dry soils, and dying trees are all symptoms of the large drought
  • Without mitigating climate change, the West will experience more severe droughts 

The climate crisis is here now, worse than anticipated, and accelerating, threatening all life. California must step up its climate leadership to avoid increasingly dire consequences and inspire climate action worldwide. Endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to enact policies that rapidly address the climate crisis.

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