Extreme Drought In Mexico: Refugees Will Travel Farther North To Find Water & Work

NOAA/Public Domain
Clip from North American Drought Monitor. February 2012. S=short term; L=long term impacts. Thick black boundaries demarcate dominant impacts.

Planet Ark reports that - "A severe drought in Mexico that has cost farmers more than a billion dollars in crop losses alone and set back the national cattle herd for years, is just a foretaste of the drier future facing Latin America's second largest economy." Campesinos and Randcheros alike suffer this climate disaster:

The water shortage wiped out millions of acres of farmland this winter, caused 15 billion pesos ($1.18 billion) in lost harvests, killed 60,000 head of cattle and weakened 2 million more livestock, pushing food prices higher in Mexico.
Seemingly, the Mexican government has not yet been permeated with US-style Republican science denial. Also from Planet Ark:
"Droughts are cyclical - we know that - but they are growing more frequent and severe due to climate change," said Elvira Quesada, the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources.

If this keeps up, I suppose, we'll see Mexican nationals - increasing numbers of drought refugees - working on farms of the upper Midwest and East coast. Some of their employers will be organic farmers; some farm stand suppliers.

Will there be enough demand, collectively, for the growing supply of migrant labor? Better be, because Texas may not be able to ride the denial bull much longer.

As PBS points out:

Drought is not unusual in Texas, said climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University. For example, the last drought of record in Texas occurred in the 1950s. But the severity of last year's high temperatures compounded with the lack of rainfall and a growing population have put an unprecedented strain on water resources.

Across Texas, towns experienced record low rainfall but also record high temperatures last year. Some towns, including Robert Lee, experienced more than 100 days of 100-degree temperatures. Those conditions are likely to become increasingly normal for the region, Hayhoe said, and that could make already severe droughts even worse.

Here's a money quote from PBS coverage, citing Ms. Hayhoe directly.
“What climate change is doing is it’s increasing our temperatures, and higher temperatures mean faster evaporation,” she says, “So you need more water to provide the same amount of irrigation for crops if temperatures are higher. And that’s what we see happening here in Texas and in many places around the world.”

Population is also a factor. Texas is one of the most rapidly urbanizing states in the country. The population is expected to grow 82 percent by 2060. All those people need water.

I highly recommend the entire PBS story, as it maps the predetermined outcome of worsening social conflict and resource competition.

This scenario would be nothing but tragic, were it not for prominent politicians: a.) doing the Ostrich Maneuver line dance. Example: Texas Getting Barbecued, While Rick Perry Doubles Down On Climate Denial; b.) inserting a stent in the Alberta tar sands oil pipeline at a bottleneck in Oklahoma, so that oil can fill Mexican gas tanks.*

USEIA/Public Domain

Immigration didactic.
One commenter on the cited PBS post posed a quintessential question: "The environmentalists say they want the U.S. to reduce its carbon footprint. My question for them is this. How can the U.S. reduce its carbon footprint if its population continues increase?"

The answer lies in support of family planning services, regardless of citizenship status, regardless of borders, regardless of politics or religion. See the post: Why Birth Control is as Important as a Climate Treaty or Food Aid, for explanation.

Brain food..
Drought Takes Toll on Mexican Agriculture

Mexican Drought Could Boost Demand for U.S. Grains, DDGS

UPDATE 1-Stubborn drought expected to tax Mexico for years.

*USEIA makes the argument that increasing rates of gasoline export to Mexico from Gulf refineries have nothing to do with high US gasoline prices, inferring it is all on the global price of oil being high. They point out that it would cost too much to ship that gasoline all the way around Florida and up to the US Northeastern states where it is is needed. But somehow European refiners can ship their gasoline all the way across the Atlantic and shipping cost doesn't deter them. Hmmm?

USEIA then goes on to argue that if US refiners couldn't export to Mexico and beyond that they'd just step down refining capacity. Right. Because if they shipped it to the US northeastern states via tanker there would be excess supply - driving down cost. OK I get it.

Tags: Dams | Drought

Best of TreeHugger