California is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, and Governor Jerry Brown has called for a 20 percent drop in consumption. There was an emergency state rule passed that has cities restricting outdoor water use and even Lady Gaga is behind a new PSA campaign to get Californians to conserve water. However, due to land and water rights, Nestle continues to be able to bottle Californian water.
The Nestle plant, located in Cabazon, California, provides water for both Arrowhead and Nestle Pure Life. The land is part of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation, west of Palm Springs. This is a desert country where springs are rare and aquifers are in decline.
“The reason this particular plant is of special concern is precisely because water is so scarce in the basin,” president of the Pacific Institute Peter Gleick told The Desert Sun. ”If you had the same bottling plant in a water-rich area, then the amount of water bottled and diverted would be a small fraction of the total water available. But this is a desert ecosystem. Surface water in the desert is exceedingly rare and has a much higher environmental value than the same amount of water somewhere else.”
Originally, the spring in Millard Canyon was used for local drinking water. Then the water rights were sold to the Morongo tribe. Nestle leases the land from the tribe, part of a 25-year deal they signed in the early 2000s after the Morongo Tribe got the water rights, and since the land is considered sovereign land of the Morongo tribe, it’s not subject to state regulations or agencies. Which means the State of California can’t really do anything about Nestle bottling up those precious drops of water. On top of that, no one really knows how much water Nestle is taking. The Morongo Indians aren’t obligated to report data on groundwater pumping or well levels as they are exempt from oversight by local agencies.
“Arrowhead provides a lot of jobs, and that helps the economy. On the other hand, Arrowhead has a reputation of going into small communities and taking advantage — and basically, pump them dry and good to the last drop,” Calvin Louie, the Cabazon Water District’s general manager told USA Today. “Everybody affects the aquifer, the water level, but who’s to blame? Well, you know, when you don’t have the data and when you have no groundwater management, it’s a shot in the dark.”
In fact, as The Desert Sun reports, no one is really sure what’s going on with the stream in Millard Canyon, whose wells Nestle draws its water from. “To what extent the spring may still be flowing isn’t clear because the tribe controls access to that area at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. But drawing water out of the canyon means less water flowing in the stream and seeping downhill to recharge aquifers.”
While in the short term, it just seems ridiculous to be drawing water and selling it for a profit in a time when the State of California is suffering from a drought, in the long run, if the water runs dry, there will be much worse consequences.
U-S-A! U-S-A! The greatest nation the world has ever known — our politicians keep saying it so it must be true – is #1 in a lot of categories… especially if they pertain to climate change denial. Thanks to corporate-funded misinformation campaigns and a healthy skepticism of “science,” American citizens have proven themselves to be the BEST at being ignorant to the destructive environmental crisis around them.
A newly released Ipsos Global Trend study asked inhabitants of 20 developed nations to either agree or disagree with statements relating to climate change. The good news is that we came out on top in a few categories. No one, I repeat, no one beats the United States at pretending that global warming isn’t real. Better luck next year, Argentina.
#1 at choosing inaction over safeguarding the planet!
“We are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits.”
Consequences? What consequences? Only 57% of American citizens agree with this statement, compared to 73% of the global population. Good luck getting Americans to give up any of their current creature comforts just to save the planet.
On the other end of the spectrum, 91% of China agreed that a change in habits was necessary. Given the extreme levels in pollution the Chinese population deals with on a daily basis, it’s not hard to guess why China is more aware of impending ecological destruction.
#1 at not blaming ourselves for the problem!
“The climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity.”
With just 54% of Americans agreeing with this statement, we’re so far ahead in this category that it’s not even close. The nearest competition is Great Britain, a full 10% points behind with 64% of agreeing to the claim.
Although 76% of the world acknowledges the role humans are playing in warming the globe, not nearly as many Americans are willing to do the same. We’ve all seen enough Law & Order to know not to admit any guilt or incriminate ourselves. America: we’re just like one of those “Not Me” Family Circus comic strips.
#1 at calling global warming “natural!”
“The climate change we are currently seeing is a natural phenomenon that happens from time to time.”
Technically, we’re tied with India on this one with 52% of residents from both countries agreeing, but since India has a higher percentage of people who disagree with the statement than the U.S. (42% vs. 35%), I’m going to give America the edge.
There are only a few countries where the majority of residents are willing to say that global warming is natural. In South Korea, a whopping 69% outright disagree with the statement posed.
Discouragingly, we’re also second place in a fourth category:
#2 (booooo) at letting businesses off the hook for being environmentally reckless!
“Companies do not pay enough attention to the environment.”
Despite being considered by many to be a corporatocracy, the United States let down its corporate overlords by ranking only second by agreeing to the statement at a rate of 65%. It’s still way more trusting of big business than the 77% who agree worldwide.
Which country do we need to unseat for this distinction? Japan. To be fair, corporate environmental regulations are taken more seriously in Japan, perhaps giving them reason to trust businesses a bit more. Still, with campaign finance reform out the window, just give America a few more election cycles where corporations can buy all of our politicians, and I’m sure we’ll regain our rightful place at #1 in this category, as well.
Environmentalists have been warning about the problems associated with a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics) on pollinators and other wildlife, but now there’s some good news that comes with a decision from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to phase out these toxic chemicals on wildlife refuges in the Northwest and Hawaii.
Neonics can be used in sprays, but are often applied as a coating on agricultural seeds and when it is, it spreads throughout the plant as it grows making the whole thing poisonous to a variety of insects. Studies have shown that they can be lethal to honey bees, bumble bees and other species at high doses, but even a little bit can cause problems by making them more vulnerable to other stressors. They’ve also been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder and have recently been found to be harmful to aquatic invertebrates and birds.
That’s not just bad news for pollinators, it’s bad news for us and the wild animals who depend on them to help pollinate crops and other wild plants we all depend on for food.
Earlier this year environmental organizations petitioned the agency to ban both genetically engineered crops and neonics throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System over concerns about the dangers they pose to wildlife and protected species and because their use is inappropriate on land that’s supposed to be designated to protect wildlife and conserve habitats.
In a memorandum published by the Center for Food Safety earlier this month, the FWS acknowledged that neonics could have adverse effects on a “broad-spectrum of non-target species” and agreed that their use does not meet the intent of policies that are supposed to cause the least harm to wildlife and their habitats. The agency also noted that they’re not only potentially being used on agricultural crops that are grown on wildlife refuges, but that they may be getting introduced through plants used in restoration projects.
Kim Trust, the deputy regional director of the FWS, told the AP that the agency made the decision because it is concerned about the global decline in all pollinators.
As of now, refuge managers will be required to take other steps to avoid their use on close to 9,000 acres of land in Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and should have neonics completely phased out by January 2016.
“We commend the Service for taking its first step to ban neonicotinoids in the Pacific region, and now we call on the agency to permanently institute this policy on wildlife refuges nationwide,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney with Center for Food Safety. “Federal wildlife refuges were established to protect natural diversity. Allowing chemical companies to profit by poisoning these important ecosystems violates their fundamental purpose and mission.”
Please sign and share the petition thanking the FWS for implementing this change and urging the agency to protect pollinators and other species by expanding this common sense ban throughout the entire National Wildlife Refuge System.