Enochs student Ethan Tornberg’s winning Peace Essay

Enochs high school senior and Eagle Eye reporter Ethan Tornberg wrote this essay, titled “The Withering Fields,” to be entered in the Peace Essay contest presented by the Modesto Peace/Life Center. He was awarded first place, winning $300.

Enochs student Ethan Tornbergs winning Peace Essay

Abigayle McKinney, Managing Editor

The Withering Fields

Driving through California’s Central Valley, the obvious dryness in a land known for its rich agriculture growth, is apparent. While politicians in California and the Central Valley have tried to solve this climate issue, our water supply continues to diminish at astronomical rates like never before. Drought is a serious climate issue that has the greatest impact on people living in the Central Valley. 

According to the most recent Spring 2019 Annual Ground Water Report, published by the San Joaquin Flood Control and Water Conservation District, 12 of the 26 county wells saw a decreasing trend in groundwater levels while only 5 saw an increase in trend. With the water supply threatened, farmers in the Central Valley have had to adapt to the changes or face their crops not surviving the harsh dryness. If progress is not made in slowing the effects of climate change in the region, an area known for producing over 25% of the nation’s food supply according to Business Insider, then not just California, but all of the United States could face a food crisis. A food crisis would have a major negative impact on the health of the American population and on the livelihoods of farmers and small businesses who depend on agriculture in the Central Valley. The New York Times author, Henry Fountain, reports that scientists examining the drought crisis in California attribute “climate change, in the form of warming temperatures and shifts in precipitation” (Fountain), as the catalyst for these harmful conditions. As scientists look at mitigating the impacts of the drought on California and America, they must also examine the impacts of climate change on it. Accelerating the already severe situation of drought is creating an increasingly difficult situation for the producers of the world’s foods. Climate change must be mitigated and adapted to by agriculture producers in order to maintain food production for the country.

The greatest impact we can have on climate change and the drought, is conserving the vital water resources we currently have.  While the Central Valley is well known for its production of nuts like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, the impact these crops have on our water supply is great. An infographic, published in a Business Insider article analyzing the amount of water needed to grow various California crops, shows the extent to which these drought intolerant crops are harming efforts to curb climate change and the drought in California. The average pistachio takes 0.75 gallons of water to grow, an almond requires an average of 1.1 gallons of water each, and the average walnut takes upwards of 4.9 gallons of water each. With such a large amount of water being used for such a small yield of sustenance, the current agriculture system in California needs to drastically shift its current practices to sustain production for the long term. Possible solutions include utilizing drought resistant or tolerant plants and crops that would sustain the population through harsh times, as well as utilizing conservation techniques. Conservation is key to preserving the livelihoods of so many that depend on the food supply produced by California farmers.

In the end, we only have one life and one world. The impact we currently have on the Earth will last forever. By taking steps now, to mitigate the effects of climate change and the drought impacting so many in California and the Central Valley, we can have a long lasting impact beyond ourselves. When we look forward with the hope of creating a sustainable future, it starts with us now. Coming together to fight against this threat works to create peace among humanity, working for the well-being of everyone, and preserving the only planet we have.