It’s the fourth year of drought in California. We’re suffering big fires in Northern California, employment drops and spikes of poverty in the Central Valley, and asking for unprecedented conservation in Southern California. We’re also seeing huge impacts on groundwater and to wildlife statewide. We’re hurting.
But is it possible that despite our losses the state as a whole has weathered this slow-motion disaster with some grace, and possibly even shown some leadership?
So argues Charles Fishman in the NYTimes:
For California, there hasn’t ever been a summer quite like the summer of 2015. The state and its 39 million residents are about to enter the fifth year of a drought. It has been the driest four-year period in California history — and the hottest, too.
Yet by almost every measure except precipitation, California is doing fine. Not just fine: California is doing fabulously.
In 2014, the state’s economy grew 27 percent faster than the country’s economy as a whole — the state has grown faster than the nation every year of the drought.
California has won back every job lost in the Great Recession and set new employment records. In the past year, California created 462,000 jobs — nearly 9,000 a week. No other state came close.
The drought has inspired no Dust Bowl-style exodus. California’s population has grown faster even as the drought has deepened.
More than half the fruits and vegetables grown in the United States come from California farms, and last year, the third growing season of the drought, both farm employment and farm revenue increased slightly.
Amid all the nervous news, the most important California drought story is the one we aren’t noticing. California is weathering the drought with remarkable resilience, because the state has been getting ready for this drought for the past 20 years.
Fishman is talking about the changes agencies and farmers in particular have made to adapt to life in our mostly semi-arid environment, and he’s not overlooking what still must be done.
It’s the work of a man with years of experience, and a contrarian, audacious argument to be recommended.
By chance, I expect, today also a noted UC San Diego scientist named Mike Dettinger posted this:
Updated (thru 7/15) Calif “reservoirs” status plot…still 39% more water than in July 1977. http://t.co/mfwKQ1xq2v pic.twitter.com/LMp84kJHtT
— Michael Dettinger (@Mdettinger) August 14, 2015