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With California’s Rainy Season Over, How Full Are the State’s Reservoirs?

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[Interactive] With California’s Rainy Season Over, How Full Are the State’s Reservoirs?

The Golden State is entering into the hot season, and it is historically at this time that its reservoirs are filled to the brim with precipitation and the melting snowpack from the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Residents were hoping that this would be the beginning of the end for the four-year drought. However, as this animated and interactive visualization timeline produced by The Lowdown shows, things are not looking good. It maps California’s 30 most important reservoirs and shows the pattern of water levels over the past five years. Click on any of these reservoirs above to see the related data.

Most reservoirs are at levels similar or worse to those in 2014, and the snowpack is at a record low. In fact, a statewide survey found the water content to be only 5% of the April 1 average.

Governor Jerry Brown has already took the unprecedented step of ordering mandatory rationing to try and reduce overall water usage by 25% by the end of year. However, as this economic blog points out, there is actually plenty of water to go around. It is simply an economic issue: water is seriously underpriced in California, which creates incentive to use more for lush green lawns, golf courses, and other amenities. Agriculture, which takes full advantage of underpriced water, accounts for 80% of water usage (but only 2% of economic activity).

Californians will have to pay more for their water in some shape or form. Either they will have to pay more per gallon, or they will have to pay the big economic price for a long drought and government interventions. Unless a miracle happens in the coming months, the choice will be even more dire.

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Agriculture

Balancing the Environmental Costs of Cannabis

Legal cannabis cultivation emits as much CO2 as 92,660 cars annually. Growing cannabis sustainably can reduce this massive environmental footprint.

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Balancing the Environmental Costs of Cannabis

Economic development comes with a massive environmental cost.

Since 1980, heavy industrial activity has caused the doubling of CO2 emissions. As scientists warn of the lasting negative impacts this will have on the planet, nearly every industry is committing to sustainable practices to try to counteract this effect.

Today’s infographic comes from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it demonstrates that while the business of cannabis isn’t always eco-friendly, there are several tried-and-tested ways to reduce its massive footprint.

A HEFTY PRICE TO PAY

Energy is the second-highest cost driver in cannabis cultivation after labor.

There are two main culprits – lighting and HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Combined, they make up a whopping 89% of energy use in cannabis cultivation operations.

Last year, legal cannabis cultivation was responsible for consuming 1.1 million MWh of electricity, and producing 472,000 tons of CO2 emissions. That’s enough to power 92,500 homes, and produce the same emissions as 92,660 cars per year. As legal cannabis production scales, this will only escalate.

Much of this data can be attributed to how the plant is grown.

Growing methodPower consumption (kWh/g)Carbon intensity (lbs CO2e/g)
Indoor1.271.24
Greenhouse0.940.72
Outdoor0.070.05

Indoor cultivation is roughly 18 times more energy-intensive than outdoor cultivation, and produces 25 times the carbon emissions. On the other hand, outdoor production produces lower overall yield per square foot. Since it’s difficult to control the environment, impurities can also end up in the final product.

That’s why many companies opt for a hybrid approach instead – balancing the benefits of precise control, with the use of natural light to lower production costs.

A GAME PLAN FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Many licensed producers are adopting a suite of strategies to relieve this environmental footprint.

  • Renewable energy
    Diversifying the energy sources for cannabis cultivation can reduce carbon emissions. Solar and wind are top choices among cultivators.
  • LED lighting
    LED light bulbs are more than 60% more efficient than other types. They also produce barely any heat, lowering ventilation requirements.
  • Water efficiency
    A single cannabis plant can use up to 23 liters of water per day. Water can be recycled and re-used through innovative techniques such as reverse osmosis.
  • Packaging
    The plastic packaging often associated with cannabis products is a considerable contributor of waste. There are several alternatives, such as paper, glass, and tin. Each of these have their own benefits and drawbacks, depending on what they are used for.

Maximizing energy-efficiency has a domino effect not only on the planet, but on reduced operating costs. These savings can then be passed on to the buyer, which could prove to be a strong competitive advantage as the cannabis industry matures.

Stay tuned for part 6 of this series, where we’ll delve into the scientific evidence for medical cannabis compounds.

The Story of Cannabis: What Investors Need to KnowAnatomy of a Cannabis PlantA Quality Cannabis ProductThe Rise of OrganicA Sustainable Cannabis ProductThe Science Behind the $13 Billion Medical Cannabis IndustryComing soonComing soon

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The Rise of Organic Cannabis in North America

Consumer spending on cannabis is projected to hit $10 billion in 2018. As the industry matures, a trend towards organic cannabis will ensue.

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The Rise of Organic Cannabis in North America

Canna-business is booming on the heels of Canada’s momentous decision to legalize cannabis nationwide, and the industry is now projected to bring in close to $95 billion by 2026.

Much like the way organic products have risen to prominence in supermarkets, consumers will start to demand high-quality products as the cannabis industry matures, as well.

Today’s infographic comes from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it elaborates on why investors and consumers alike are anticipating a growing trend towards organic cannabis.

Roots of the Movement

In a nutshell, organic refers to products grown without fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic modifications. By that definition, organic practices also help to minimize the impact of farming on an environmental level.

The organic trend originates in the post-WWII era, as technological advances transformed the efficiency of large-scale agriculture. As practices changed, farmers and scholars worried about the long-term effects that the use of synthetic chemicals could have.

Thus, the organic movement was born:

1940
The phrase “organic farming” is first coined by English agriculturalist Lord Northbourne.

1962
The book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson raises public awareness of the harms posed by pesticides, launching the contemporary environmental movement.

1972
The International Federation of Organic Movements (IFOM), a worldwide organization for the organic agriculture movement, is founded.

1990
The U.S. passes the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA), defining standard organic production practices.

More recently, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion demonstrates the influence of consumers in catapulting organic products into the mainstream.

The Allure of Organic Cannabis

Consumers are expecting the same quality standards from other products they consume, such as cannabis.

Growing cannabis organically ensures that it is:

1. Safe for consumption

Natural cultivation methods mean that organic cannabis is often a safer end-product.

2. A premium experience

Organic cannabis offers consumers improved flavor and quality, with enhanced potency.

3. Environmentally sustainable

With organic practices, the surrounding water, soil, and biodiversity are unharmed.

Fine Print?

One caveat to choosing organic is the price differential. One gram of organic cannabis can cost 26% more than regular grade cannabis – but that’s because organic cultivation requires more attention to detail.

Nevertheless, increasing consumer demand for less chemically-laden products can outweigh this price differential in many cases. The growing market for cannabis is now on track to bring in $10 billion this year – outpacing all previous estimates.

Stay tuned for part 5 of this series, which will look at the way growing organic cannabis can be complemented by sustainable practices.

The Story of Cannabis: What Investors Need to KnowAnatomy of a Cannabis PlantA Quality Cannabis ProductThe Rise of OrganicBalancing the Environmental Costs of CannabisThe Science Behind the $13 Billion Medical Cannabis IndustryComing soonComing soon

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