Published On: Mon, May 25th, 2015

David Frum: Immigration to Blame for California Water Crisis


california drought

Does immigration play a part in the worst drought in the history of the State of California? Atlantic editor and conservative columnist David Frum certainly thinks so.

Frum tweeted: “Population has grown by 10 mn people since 1990 – a 33% increase – almost all by immigration. Maybe that’s relevant?”

Perhaps someone should explain to him that while an increase in population has caused an increase in demand for water, it certainly has played no part in the higher temperatures and drying out of the state.

Also, as 60 Minutes reported, local farmers are sucking the State’s ground water dry, thereby increasing the affects of the drought.

Also, Mr. Frum feels that the New York Times has failed to deal with immigration issue tweeting, “NYT has covered CA water crisis with scant reference to its immigration-driven population surge. That’s an omission.”

Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and the president of the Pacific Institute, an organization dedicated to environmental protection, criticized Frum’s position. He wrote in an e mail to the Huffington Post, “To claim California’s water crisis is due to immigration and the use of water by immigrants is to grossly misunderstand California’s true water challenges.”

“Population growth of course affects the use of all resources (land, energy, food, water), but the water crisis was here 30 years ago, urban demand is only 20 percent of total water demand, urban water use has been level for 30 years and per-capita water use is going down, not up.”

To this Frum responded, “If per capita water use is going down and you add 10 million people, then the decline in per capita use would be overmatched by the increase in total population. The question is not ‘is immigration the cause of the crisis.’ My tweet noted that some people want to omit any mention of it at all. And it seems to me that certainly the growth in California’s population is relevant. In California, water is a finite resource.”

Mr. Frum clearly needs a lesson in agriculture. With all of the fruit, such as oranges, grown there it is clear that more water is used for farming in California than for drinking.

Then there is also the fact that countless gallons of water are pumped out of the state each year by mineral water companies.

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