Most of the cropland in the Southwest U.S. is used to grow hay. This is mainly because there are better places to grow soil-intensive crops.
Regional climate models predict higher temperatures and less precipitation, especially in the summer months, when crops are most vulnerable to drought frequency and severity. Relatively small weather anomalies can have a disproportionately large impact on crop production.
Cropland takes up a small portion of land, but irrigation for crops accounts for 80 percent of water consumption in the Southwest. Much of this water is coming from the Colorado River, which is already almost completely used up by the time the water reaches Mexico.
About half of our irrigation water comes from groundwater, and this is also being used much faster than it is being replenished, stressing our aquifers. As climate change raises the temperatures in the Southwest, it will increase the amount of water that evaporates from the soil, plants, and bodies of water.
To protect our agriculture economy and food growing capacity, we need to address climate change now. A revenue-neutral tax on our CO2 emissions is a market-based carbon fee and dividend proposal; it is a means of reducing carbon and use of fossil fuels while offsetting the costs of this transition to the average household.
Action now will preserve resiliency of our agricultural industry and rural areas.