In "Intensifying Calif. drought sets off alarms," Doyle Rice, USA Today's weather and climate reporter, reports: "As California's epic drought continues with no end in sight, it is setting off new alarms about unprecedented water shortages, increased wildfire threats, fewer crops and farmers, higher electric bills and huge economic losses for years -- or even decades -- to come."
Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, says "In the end, we have no choice but to bring supply and demand back into balance, and the options for new supply are very limited."
Which leaves us with demand. Immigration policy now drives more than three-quarters of U.S. population growth. Without changes to immigration, the U.S. is projected to add nearly 100 million people (the equivalent of two and a half California's) by the year 2051.
Putting additional pressure on our water supply isn't the goal but it's a very real side effect of current immigration levels.
Per capita consumption is obviously very important. State and local governments are already putting restrictions on how and when residents use their water. Given the population projections, restrictions may become increasingly necessary, though not sufficient.
Efforts to increase the supply of water such as desalination plants and recycled wastewater projects take time and money. The increased demand that results from our immigration policy will give us less time and require more money to test out these potential solutions.
Congress can't make it rain, but they can (and do) mandate increased demand on our natural resources. They do so through immigration policy. We should be talking about this.
In his 1997 study, "How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection," T. Michael Maher of the University of Southwestern Louisiana found that "journalists are aware of the controversial nature of the population issue, and prefer to avoid it if possible."
Throw immigration into the mix and you've really got something to avoid!
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standard's Project for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Apr 3rd 2015 @ 9:20am EDT