Letters to the Editor: Should more desert farmland in California be used for solar?

Imperial Valley, CA, Tuesday, 8/30 - Solar farms surround a West-Gro alfalfa farm. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
Solar farms surround an alfalfa farm in the Imperial Valley. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Thanks to reporter Sammy Roth for his excellent piece on repurposing vast Imperial Valley farms for solar energy generation.

For those not familiar with the challenges we face on a warming planet, Roth has provided up close and personal perspectives about farmers losing water and crops, cities growing despite diminishing resources, and the folly of those who promised Colorado River water to everyone without understanding the consequences.

I encourage climate science skeptics to read this and give more serious thought to our situation. We can solve this, but it'll take many decades.

In the meantime things will get worse. There will be more lost farm acreage, higher food costs and more water restrictions. In already hot places like the Imperial Valley, more people will die when it's even hotter.

Start supporting fossil fuel reduction with your vote and your home appliance usage. We can avoid total catastrophe.

Edward Dignan, Long Beach


To the editor: The question in the article, "What is the land's best use?" should be followed by, "What is water's best use in California?"

The key lies in the actual value of water compared to what the farm barons pay. They benefit from contracts that are many decades old with low water prices that distort what crops are economically viable. Growing water-thirsty alfalfa in the arid Imperial Valley is clearly not the answer.

We cannot live without drinking water, but we can get the vegetables currently grown in the Imperial Valley from other parts of California with the "true value" of water factored in.

Climate change will create more havoc in California. Let's value water based on the priority of its use: drinking water, sustainable food production, and sustainable environmental protection.

Raju Yenamandra, Thousand Oaks


To the editor: Far-right political extremism seems to have infected the thinking of at least one Imperial Valley farmer who opposes solar power installations on the region's increasingly un-farmable land.

While farmer Eddie Wiest wisely recognizes the need to diversify local land use, his neighbor Trevor Tagg "refuses to accept the science of global warming," even as his own mother has repurposed part of her property from farming to solar power generation.

I hope Tagg's eyes will open to factual reality before his land becomes too unbearably hot and dry to produce any crops at all.

Marcy Miroff Rothenberg, Porter Ranch


To the editor: I can't understand why the solar companies choose to cover acres and acres of farmland when just a few miles away, there are hundreds of acres of open desert land that get as much sunshine as the rest of the Imperial Valley.

This place is "America's salad bowl." When the farms are covered over by solar panels, your head of lettuce will become a luxury item, and alfalfa will be consumed only by racehorses.

Mike Hatchimonji, La Palma


To the editor: Roth's article leaves the impression that to avoid climate disaster, it will be necessary to sacrifice either farmland or remote desert lands for solar farms.

I hope to read more in the future about photovoltaic panels being placed on residential rooftops, over parking lots, on commercial buildings, over canals and on contaminated landfills.

Hazards and costs related to long-distance electrical transmission must be considered in California's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Craig Deutsche, Los Angeles

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.