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When All Reason Dries Up in a Time of Drought

Somewhat lost in the midst of Olympic coverage and the incessant political advertising blanketing the airwaves is the fact that the U.S. is facing its worst drought since the 1950s. And Colorado is by no means immune. In our parched state, it all began with an extremely weak snowpack, which led to the worst wildfire season in decades. In early July, 62 of 64 Colorado counties were already part of a federal drought declaration.

Across the country, half of all counties are officially disaster areas. Fields are failing and crops are devastated. Just a few days ago, Obama authorized $30 million in drought aid. Prices are expected to skyrocket, with little relief in sight.

According to an op-ed piece by William Moseley in the New York Times, our country has become dangerously focused on corn, and to a lesser extent soybean. “This limited diversity of crops restricts our diets, degrades our soils and increases our vulnerability to droughts,” Moseley says. Remember the food demonstrations around the world in 2007-08 when global corn prices shot up? Expect it again.

So what are our government organizations doing to combat this disaster? Well, in a piece by David Sirota called Gluttony & Drought, he explains that the USDA, in a non-binding recommendation, suggests that those who want to conserve water could refrain from eating meat on Mondays.

Yes, to combat the worst drought in roughly 60 years, steer clear of steer for a day. The funny (sad) part is that this minor nod to combat the issue would at least be something. It turns out producing a pound of animal protein requires roughly 100 times more water than producing a pound of vegetable protein, according to Cornell researchers. So at least it would be taking a step in the right direction.

But of course some lawmakers —those who happen to be recipients of generous campaign contributions from the meat-centric agribusiness industry — are up in arms. Sirota penned that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called the USDA’s suggestion “heresy” and that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) posted a photo to his Facebook page showing a spread of meat that he and his fellow carnivores were about to consume in protest.

Sadly, this is the state of our country. One in which crises are not only ignored, but mocked by the very people put in place to protect the American people, our resources, and our way of life.

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