Should California’s water go toward agriculture or toward sturgeon and salmon protection?



  1. 0 Votes

    This is a tough question to answer as it is really a matter of perspective, priorities and scale. Many people would agree that agriculture is an important piece of modern society and that intensive agriculture plays a necessary role in feeding the 6.8 billion people that call Earth home. It is another question entirely of whether ecosystems can support this level of intensive farming—including the mining of water and topsoil—for several decades let alone indefinitely.  The debate between protecting wildlife populations and the interests of agriculture or forestry is not a new one and has been an active agent in polarizing rural communities for years—think of the debate over the spotted owl in old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest throughout the 1990s. I don’t think the question is really about which deserves water more, the fruit orchards or the sturgeon—that is a less than useful dichotomy. But rather, to what degree and scale is it ok to modify our environment to the detriment of other species? At what point is a short-term benefit to humans (e.g. irrigating crops) really causing too much long-term, widespread damage to the ecosystem that ultimately nourishes us?Are there other ways we can live and organize our society to reduce the pressure we place on our natural resources and ecosystems?

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