Saturday, June 23, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on August 26th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 25

Dry subject matter

Have you ever thought about dominoes? Like really thought about them? I’m talking about dominoes waiting to be toppled over. There’s a definite start point. They have to be consciously arranged in a line that extends from one point to another. Dominoes are not deployed in a constant state of falling. That would be weird, because of physics, you know?

I recently saw a press release from the U.S. Small Business Administration intended to remind “small, nonfarm businesses” that they can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan by Sept. 15.

That’s a great resource for workers impacted by a lack of rain in Santa Barbara County (and 34 other counties), but one line in particular caught my eye: “These loans are to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues to farmers and ranchers caused by the drought that began on January 1, 2014 … .”

I have to admit that I laughed, just a little, because I had a vision of lake levels suddenly plummeting and grass withering and dying as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day. The idea of a drought starting on a particular day is bizarre to me—as bizarre as the idea of dominoes already falling as you set them up, extending into infinity on either side.

In no way am I intending to disparage the loan opportunities available for businesses that have lost revenue due to the problems plaguing the agriculture industry in this parched part of the country.

But something about the wording in the notice from the SBA did give me pause. To a lot of people, I think, this drought did just start. It caught them by surprise. These people are not necessarily with any business or farm operation or government loan agency. The average person, I feel, sees reports about dried-up forests and empty lakebeds and watering restrictions and thinks of it all as something akin to a meteor crash.

“What are the odds, huh?”

Rainfall matters, of course, but so does our use of water. The businesses that need to apply for these SBA loans are paying the price—literally—of collective disinterest in the big picture. Not to single anyone out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more than a few locals see economic and environmental disasters as discrete events. As the results of someone, somewhere, pushing over a domino.

Actually, the dominos have all been set up, and I can hear them falling. The thing that worries me most is that the sound is getting closer.


The Canary is a bit ominous today, yes? Send comments to

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