America's breadbasket aquifer running dry; massive agriculture collapse inevitable
by Mike Adams
It's the largest underground freshwater supply in the world, stretching from South Dakota all the way to Texas. It's underneath most of Nebraska's farmlands, and it provides crucial water resources for farming in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and even New Mexico. It's called the Ogallala Aquifer, and it is being pumped dry.
Without the Ogallala Aquifer, America's heartland food production collapses. No water means no irrigation for the corn, wheat, alfalfa and other crops grown across these states to feed people and animals. And each year, the Ogallala Aquifer drops another few inches as it is literally being sucked dry by the tens of thousands of agricultural wells that tap into it across the heartland of America.
This problem with all this is that the Ogallala Aquifer isn't being recharged in any significant way from rainfall or rivers. This is so-called "fossil water" because once you use it, it's gone. And it's disappearing now faster than ever.
In some regions along the aquifer, the water level has dropped so far that it has effectively disappeared places like Happy, Texas, where a once-booming agricultural town has collapsed to a population of just 595. All the wells drilled there in the 1950's tapped into the Ogallala Aquifer and seemed to provide abundant water at the time. But today the wells have all run dry.
Happy, Texas has become a place of despair. Dead cattle. Wilted crops. Once-moist soils turned to dust. And Happy is just the beginning of this story because this same agricultural tragedy will be repeated across Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas and parts of Colorado in the next few decades. That's a hydro-logic fact. Water doesn't magically reappear in the Ogallala. Once it's used up, it's gone.
"There used to be 50,000 head of cattle, now there's 1,000," says Kay Horner in a Telegraph report (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/8359076/US-farmers-fear-the-return-of-the-Dust-Bowl.html). "Grazed them on wheat, but the feed lots took all the water so we can't grow wheat. Now the feed lots can't get local steers so they bring in cheap unwanted milking calves from California and turn them into burger if they can't make them veal. It doesn't make much sense. We're heading back to the Dust Bowl."
The end of cheap food in America?
It's a sobering thought, really: That "America's breadbasket" is on a collision course with the inevitable. A large percentage of the food produced in the United States is, of course, grown on farmlands irrigated from the Ogallala. For hundreds of years, it has been a source of "cheap water," making farming economically feasible and keeping food prices down. Combined with the available of cheap fossil fuels over the last century (necessary to drive the tractors that work the fields), food production has sky-rocketed in North America. This has led to a population explosion, too. Where food is cheap and plentiful, populations readily expand.
It only follows that when food becomes scarce or expensive (putting it out of reach of average income earners), populations will fall. There's only so much food to go around, after all. And after the Ogallala runs dry, America's food production will plummet. Starvation will become the new American landscape for those who cannot afford the sky-high prices for food.
Aquifer depletion is a global problem.
It's not a problem that's unique to America, by the way. The very same problem is facing India, where fossil water is already running dry in many parts of the country. It's the same story in China, too, where water conservation has never been a top priority. Even the Middle East is facing its own water crisis. This has caused food prices to sky-rocket, leading directly to the civil unrest, the riots and even the revolutions we've seen taking place there over the last few months.
The problem is called aquifer depletion (http://www.eoearth.org/article/Aquifer_depletion ), and it's a problem that spans the globe. It means that today's cheap, easy food grown on cheap fossil water simply isn't sustainable. Once that water is gone, the crop-lands that depend on it dry up. Following that, erosion kicks in, and the winds blow away the dry soils in a "Dust Bowl" type of scenario.
A few years after that, what was once a thriving agricultural operation is transformed into a dry, soil-less death pit where nothing lives.
"The Ogallala supply is going to run out and the Plains will become uneconomical to farm," says David Brauer of the Ogallala Research Service, part of the USDA. "That is beyond reasonable argument. Our goal now is to engineer a soft landing. That's all we can do."
Such is the legacy of conventional agriculture, which is based almost entirely on non-sustainable practices. Its insane reliance on fossil water, petroleum fertilizers, toxic pesticides and GMOs will only lead our world to agricultural disaster.
Be prepared and be safe.
I want all NaturalNews readers to be prepared, informed and safe when facing our uncertain future. We know that trouble is stirring around the world, and much of it is either caused by or will lead to food shortages. The GMO companies, of course, will exploit this situation to their advantage, claiming that only GMOs can grow enough food to feed the world. This is a lie. GMOs and patented seeds only enslave the world population and lead to great social injustice. The days of food slavery are fast approaching for those who do not have the means to grow at least a portion of their own food.
As part of our effort to help people become more self-reliant with greater food security throughout 2011 and 2012 I plan to bring you more articles, videos and webcast events that focus on home food production, self-reliance, family preparedness and sustainable living. Recently we announced a live webcast event on financial preparedness but the available seats at that event sold out in a matter of days (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122294630).
Based on the huge demand for this event, we have decided to roll out a second preparedness event in April 2011, focused on food preparedness and security. Watch for an announcement on that soon.
In the mean time, I am personally working on growing more of my own food and will be creating a new series of videos and articles based on some of what I learn along the way. From living in South America and producing quite a large amount of food there, I have a fair amount of experience on home food production, but of course there's always more to learn, right?
My gut feeling on all this is that learning to grow and store some portion of your own food is going to become a crucial survival skill over the next few years. And that means understanding water, soil, open-pollinated seeds, organic fertilizers, soil probiotics, insect pollination, growing with the seasons, sprouting, food harvesting, food drying, canning, storage and much more. It's a whole set of skills that have faded away in America in just 2 generations, leaving very few people who now know how to live off their own land.
What's becoming increasingly obvious from events such as the drying up of aquifers is that home food production is going to become a critical survival skill. I want NaturalNews readers to know and practice these skills as much as possible so that you can experience the comforts (and freedoms!) of genuine food security.