US lawmakers are finally waking up to the devastating effects of climate change. President Obama recently announced that he is going to set up a $1 billion ‘climate resilience fund’ to help ailing US communities fight climate change. The fund will also encourage research into the impact of climate change as well as fund technology to counter climate change.
The fund was announced when the President was visiting ranchers and farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which is suffering from a severe drought. 91.6 percent of the state has already been affected by the drought, which has entered its third year. According to estimates, over half a million acres in San Joaquin valley will lie fallow this growing seasons because of a lack of water.
California in the grip of terrible drought
2013 was the driest year ever recorded in California. The Governor, Jerry Brown, has already announced a drought emergency in the state, and he asked people to voluntarily cut their water consumption by 20 percent.
The State Water Project has expressed its helplessness and has said that due to low snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains, it will not be able to supply water to distribution agencies. People have been asked to make do with water from the Colorado river, ground water and whatever is left over in reservoirs. Well water cannot be used for agriculture because of its salty nature and buying water is out of the question for many, because it is already scarce and whatever little is available, is selling at five times its price. Incidentally, the problem is not limited to California alone. 15 states in the western region are suffering from drought or dry conditions.
House Republicans might try put a spanner in President Obama’s proposal
The President is expected to announce the plan in his 2015 budget address, which is slated for March. It is not sure how much support he will get from the House of Representatives, which is held by the Republicans. President Obama has already announced several short term measures to aid the ranchers and farmers whose livelihoods has been affected. Some of these measures are a $100 million to feed producers, $60 million to food banks and $15 million for conservation assistance in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and California.
Many cities in the US are taking steps to fight climate change. For example, New York City has come up with a $19.5 billion war chest to protect 520 miles of its shoreline from rising waters. Louisiana already has a $50 billion plan in place from 2012.