Connect with us

Agriculture

202 Drought Maps of California Show How Dry It Is

Published

on

The following drought maps of California are weekly, from the beginning of 2011 to now.

202 Drought Maps of California Show How Dry It Is

202 Drought Maps of California Show How Dry It Is

If there is one thing we are tuned in here to at Visual Capitalist, it is the value of all natural resources: from metals and energy to fresh water. With population, money, and economic growth all happening at exponential rates, and only a limited amount of underlying resources, there are problems abound.

We had a previous post discussing the possibility of Peak Water as well, and it is something we are also addressing in our editorial calendar with an upcoming original infographic series on overpopulation.

California has been the victim of years of drought now, and it has cost the state dearly. It’s expected to cost , with the loss of 17,000 jobs as farmers must fallow their regular cash crops.

The Week published an interesting excerpt about the impact of the drought on California aquifers and infrastructure:

The drought has prompted farmers to race to drill wells into the Central Valley’s aquifers and access the underground water reserves. “He with the biggest pump or deepest straw wins,” says Felicia Marcus, chair of the state’s water board. But though this groundwater will replace about three quarters of the current deficit from rivers and streams, pumping is certainly not a sustainable solution to the crisis: Sucking water out of aquifers has caused the ground to compact and sink almost a foot a year in some regions of the San Joaquin Valley, causing $1.3 billion of infrastructure damage to roads, bridges, and pipelines. Worse, these depleted aquifers can take decades to replenish.

Nearly 75% of all California fresh water comes from the Sierra Nevada snowpack, and right now it is reduced to only about 20% of its usual size.

Sadly, we expect fresh water problems to be more common in the future as aquifers get depleted and climate changes happen.

Original graphic from: The LA Times

subscribe_tovc2

Continue Reading
Comments

Agriculture

Our Impact on Climate Change and Global Land Use in 5 Charts

We highlight the five most important takeaways from the IPCC’s recent 1,400+ page report on climate change and land use.

Published

on

IPCC climate report charts

Our Impact on Climate Change and Land Use in 5 Charts

As the world population approaches the eight billion mark, it’s becoming clear that we’re impacting the planet in unprecedented ways.

Humans have made such dramatic changes to Earth’s systems, from climate to geology, that many are suggesting we’ve entered into a new epoch – the Anthropocene.

To better understand the challenges of this era of wide-sweeping human impact on the planet, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced a massive report covering land use and climate change.

According to the IPCC, the situation is looking more dire by the year. Below are a few of the key insights buried within the 1,400+ pages of the massive report.

Shifting Global Land Use

The scale of land use and loss of biodiversity are unprecedented in human history.

According to the report, roughly two-thirds of the world’s ice-free land is now devoted to human uses. Ecosystems, both forested and unforested, only account for about 16% of land today. Part of the reason for this dwindling supply of natural habitat is the rapid increase of agricultural activity around the world.

Since the dawn of the 20th century, global land use has shifted dramatically:

Global land use over time

Not only has land use changed, but so has farming itself. In many parts of the world, increased yields will primarily come from existing agricultural land. For example, wheat yields are projected to increase 11% by the year 2026, despite the growing area only increasing by 1.8%. Rice production exhibits a similar trend, with 93% of the projected increase expected to come from increased yields rather than from area expansion. In some cases, intensive farming practices can degrade soil more than 100x faster than the time it takes for new soil to form, leaving fertilizers to pick up the slack.

One of the most dramatic changes highlighted in the report is the nearly eight-fold increase in the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers since the early 1960s. These types of fertilizers are having serious downstream effects on aquatic ecosystems, in some cases creating “dead zones” such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to the negative impacts outlined above, the simple act of feeding ourselves also accounts for one-third of our global greenhouse gas footprint.

Things are Heating Up

The past half-decade is likely to become the warmest five-year stretch in recorded history, underscoring the rapid pace of climate change. On a global scale, even a small increase in temperature can have a big impact on climate and our ecosystems.

For example, air can hold approximately 7% more moisture for every 1ºC increase, leading to an uptick in extreme rainfall events. These events can trigger landslides, increase the rate of soil erosion, and damage crops – just one example of how climate change can cause a chain reaction.

For the billions of people who live in “drylands”, climate change is serving up a completely different scenario:

“Heatwaves are projected to increase in frequency, intensity and duration in most parts of the world and drought frequency and intensity is projected to increase in some regions that are already drought prone.”

— IPCC report on Climate Change and Land, 2019

This is particularly worrisome as 90% of people in these arid or semiarid regions live in developing economies that are still very reliant on agriculture.

In addition to water scarcity, the IPCC has identified a number of other categories, including soil erosion and permafrost degradation. In all seven categories, our current global temperature puts us firmly in the moderate to high risk zone. These risks predict events with widespread societal impact, such as regional “food shocks” and millions of additional people exposed to wildfires.

This IPCC report makes one thing clear. In addition to tackling emissions in our cities and transportation networks, we’ll need to substantially change the way we use our land and rethink our entire agricultural system if we’re serious about mitigating the impact of climate change.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist

Thank you!
Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Continue Reading

Agriculture

The Most Valuable Agricultural Commodity in Each State

Which agricultural commodity is the most important to each state’s economy? This infographic breaks it all down, based on data from the USDA.

Published

on

The Most Valuable Agricultural Commodity in Each State

The United States has an incredible amount of geographic diversity.

From the fertile farmland of the Great Plains to the volcanic islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, each state has been dealt a unique geographical hand.

Each geographical setting can be the source of economic opportunities, such as tourism or the development of natural resources. It also partially dictates what kind of agricultural choices are available for farmers and local economies.

A Higher Level Look

Today’s infographic comes to us from HowMuch.net, and it color codes each state based on the most valuable agricultural commodity it produces, based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At a big picture level, how does the country break down?

Most Valuable Agricultural CommodityNumber of States
Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas16
Poultry and eggs9
Cattle and calves7
Milk from cows7
Nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod4
Fruit, tree nuts, and berries3
Vegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes2
Aquaculture1
Other crops and hay1

Broadly speaking, the category of “Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas” is the most valuable agricultural commodity in 16 states, while aquaculture was the most important in only one state, which is Alaska.

It’s interesting that there are niches that end up deriving massive amounts of value in only a few states. For example, the category of “Fruit, tree nuts, and berries” is the biggest in just three states, but California makes $17.6 billion from it every year – more than the size of the entire agricultural sector of some states.

State by State Data

Finally, here’s a look at the data for each state in a sortable table:

RankStateAgricultural CommodityValue
#1CaliforniaFruit, tree nuts, and berries$17,638,972,000
#2IowaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$17,146,679,000
#3IllinoisGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$13,589,230,000
#4TexasCattle and calves$13,013,127,000
#5MinnesotaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$12,304,415,000
#6NebraskaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$10,698,861,000
#7KansasCattle and calves$10,153,087,000
#8North DakotaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$8,813,348,000
#9IndianaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$7,217,854,000
#10OhioGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$5,834,600,000
#11South DakotaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$5,809,792,000
#12WisconsinMilk from cows$4,952,039,000
#13North CarolinaPoultry and eggs$4,837,026,000
#14GeorgiaPoultry and eggs$4,773,837,000
#15ColoradoCattle and calves$4,321,308,000
#16ArkansasGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$4,214,355,000
#17MissouriGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$3,922,873,000
#18AlabamaPoultry and eggs$3,624,852,000
#19MichiganGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$3,613,250,000
#20OklahomaCattle and calves$3,402,919,000
#21WashingtonFruit, tree nuts, and berries$2,931,370,000
#22MississippiPoultry and eggs$2,744,048,000
#23New YorkMilk from cows$2,417,398,000
#24IdahoMilk from cows$2,333,364,000
#25PennsylvaniaMilk from cows$1,966,892,000
#26FloridaFruit, tree nuts, and berries$1,847,805,000
#27LouisianaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,832,208,000
#28MontanaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,787,162,000
#29KentuckyGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,656,983,000
#30South CarolinaPoultry and eggs$1,476,817,000
#31TennesseeGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,301,303,000
#32New MexicoMilk from cows$1,251,065,000
#33VirginiaPoultry and eggs$1,161,564,000
#34WyomingCattle and calves$1,101,195,000
#35MarylandPoultry and eggs$922,999,000
#36OregonCattle and calves$894,485,000
#37DelawarePoultry and eggs$811,301,000
#38ArizonaVegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes$764,062,000
#39VermontMilk from cows$504,884,000
#40New JerseyNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$405,247,000
#41West VirginiaPoultry and eggs$401,439,000
#42UtahCattle and calves$364,214,000
#43NevadaOther crops and hay$280,554,000
#44ConnecticutNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$252,923,000
#45MaineVegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes$207,254,000
#46HawaiiGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$152,930,000
#47MassachusettsNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$144,188,000
#48New HampshireMilk from cows$54,798,000
#49Rhode IslandNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$32,831,000
#50AlaskaAquaculture$29,774,000

As the legal cannabis industry continues to take off, it’ll be interesting to see if the USDA incorporates that crop into its rankings in future years.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist

Thank you!
Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Continue Reading
Menē Company Spotlight

Subscribe

Join the 120,000+ subscribers who receive our daily email

Thank you!
Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Popular