Thursday, March 5, 2009

California's Imperial Valley

Use "Environmental history and environmental sociology" to "illuminate the roots of present problems" and develop ideas as to how to resolve them. For most I think that this should be obvious-learn something from past mistakes. It would appear the seeing environmental issues through economics and political views have two effects- either it clouds the vision and/or it inhibits good judgment. Between 1850 and 1900 was the planning to bring water to the dessert but even in the initial stags of this process it was plagued with problems, maybe someone should have taken this as warning. 1901 to 1941 Development of irrigated agriculture in the dessert. This was supported the great possibilities of "great" economic profitability of agriculture, if ecological, labor and community 'problems could be held at bay. The power to control the valley and poor planning resulted in the first of many disasters that affected the people around or near the valley, this of course was corrected by more control. More...
Then there was the issue of labor problems and the neighbors on the "Mexican side" that appeared to create more problems and still no one took the hint that this may not be a good idea. Maybe it was because of the huge investments that were made. Regardless of the cost (either environmentally or socially) they were going to make this work. All of this would swept under the rug, the next thirty years of profit would certainly wipe away all of the problems of the past and no one would remember or care. From 1942 to 1972 the area was booming, "The gross agricultural income in the valley increased by more than 600%. This was all backed by federal and state support and lack of awareness of the weak foundations that were being built in the local governments and economy's. The lack of the administration and enforcement of the 160 limitations, the residency requirements and the termination of the Bracero would have long lasting effects. 1973 to 1993 brought changes in the agricultural economy, new regulatory processes and "destabilization of agricultural production and profit". Ecological conditions became quite evident and the affects on the local economies were in a steep decline. Many growers and producers have moved to "newer" production areas and jobs have moved away, the younger generations so they have moved away for better employment opportunities. Today many of the jobs that are left are minimum wage and most of those that hold higher positions are not from the area. The Salton Sea is contaminated and the only economic possibility that the area may have surrounds tourism but that would appear limited due to the conditions of the lake. Had the history of this area been taken into consideration it would seem as though that there could have been preventative measures taken to prevent the degradation of not only the natural environment but also the social environment.

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