PARCHED PLANET

Jack Healy & Nelson D. Schwartz, The New York Times, April 4. 2015

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 ith stunning coastlines, towering redwoods, and the gold rush of the eighteen-hundreds, California has stood as a natural wonder on its own. Today, a conversation about the state would cover its progressive culture, the Golden State Warriors, Hollywood… and droughts. In its fourth year, the California drought has lead to Governor Jerry Brown mandating a 25% cut of water usage for residents, businesses and cities. An estimated 38.8 million people live in California and each of their showers must hover around 5 minutes. Unemployment for farmers has also been soaring due to crops not getting any nutrition. While there are many who understand the problem and are taking quality actions, such as farmers moving away from water-intensive crops or residents turning to turf, some are disconnected from this reality. Take a drive down Palm Springs, where daily per capita water use is double the state average and it is easy to spot where water abuse occurs (hint hint, it’s with the wealthy). Country clubs are hosing down their greens to keep them lush, pools are being refilled constantly to keep them fresh, and large patches of lawn are being watered to stay maintained. Palm Springs is in the middle of a desert and yet some are adamant to keep their lifestyles as if it was raining once a week.

Kevin Starr, a historian at the University of Southern California, put it best, “Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here.” The state has to reconsider how it does business, especially the high-tech hub of Silicon Valley and tourist-laden Los Angeles with their unprecedented growths. Hidden in the background of drought talk, there are other epic droughts devastating the planet in areas that don’t have the growth or business of the Golden State. The Catalonia region of Spain was rattled so severely that Barcelona began importing water from France, Northern India’s groundwater loss became so great that it was visible from space, and the middle-east has suffered such an immense water shortage that their droughts have been linked to a growth in terrorism and social unrest. It’s a scary thought, if the worst of California’s fears includes how they’re going to water their golf courses in the morning, how will the other drought stricken areas endure?

Get in deeper:
Watch: California’s Extreme Drought, Explained by The New York Times “

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