Now that California is officially in a drought, I’ve had to reconsider what it means to be a resident of Los Angeles. As a native New Yorker who moved to L.A. ten years ago, I didn’t realize that California supplies 25% of the food we eat in this country but now it is a stark reality that what happens in California, happens to all of us.
Before the drought, I was one of those transplanted New Yorkers who delighted about it being 80 degrees and sunny in L.A. while my friends in N.Y. were freezing in sub-arctic fronts that brought record low temperatures. Now everyone on both coasts is witnessing the damage of human-induced climate change which is producing extreme weather. This week, I got to choose to reduce my water usage but next week I may not have a choice. This week, we all have an abundance of California grown avocados and almonds, in the future we may not.
I’ve read numerous articles about what we can expect here in Los Angeles and how New Yorkers view the drought. I think this article, Apocalyptic Schadenfreude – What the New York Times – and everybody else – gets wrong about California’s water crisis by Steven Johnson published by Medium, is one of the best. It addresses the complexity of the the problem; outlines California’s agricultural history and details the impact of the drought on the rest of the country. Here is an excerpt:
“California is running through its water supply because, for complicated historical and climatological reasons, it has taken on the burden of feeding the rest of the country. The average Times reader sneering at those desert lawns from the Upper West Side might want to think about the canned tomatoes, avocados, and almonds in his or her kitchen before denouncing the irresponsible lifestyles of the California emigres. Because the truth is California doesn’t have a water problem. We all do.”