The drought in California is a really big deal, so why are all my neighbors’ lawns green?Here’s the deal: I am from a wealthy community in Laguna Beach, California, and it’s exactly what you would imagine. The weather is always temperate, the crystal blue water looks similar to a mirage and, for the most part, all my neighbors have nice houses and nice families. They think nice thoughts, they love California, and the whole world for that matter–yet, most of them don’t seem aware of the fact we live in a state of emergency.
I love my home and I love the people with whom I share it. But lately I have begun to notice some slightly off-putting things about the way we Southern Californians go about our day-to-day lives. Namely, how we handle “the drought.”
There’s no need to continually hammer it in but the drought is a real, pertinent threat to the environment. I know, I’m such a millennial hippy right? No, it’s just pure fact. However, as a resident of a fairly urban, populated part of Southern California, my observations of the drought would not suggest much is wrong. Instead of dying gardens I see thriving greenery fueled by sprinklers ran at midday. I see hoses left on and forgotten about.
Whenever California experiences a brief period of rain or snowfall, my friends joke “what drought?” The more I thought about this ironic question, the more I really began to wonder “what drought?”
If you are like the majority of Californians I’ve observed, the drought probably hasn’t disrupted your daily life. This is why, in my opinion, the drought is thought of jokingly as “the drought” by California residents. It’s almost become a novelty. For those poor, unlucky souls who live elsewhere, the drought is used as kind of consolation against the image of California as a perfect, sunny oasis – i.e. “Sure, we may have real winters and tornadoes, but California still has their drought! SO HA.” -Any given East Coaster/ Midwesterner/ Southerner
But we do still have our drought. And it’s worse than ever, despite false claims it’s coming to an end. What will it take for people to make a conceited, intelligent, earnest effort to combat this environmental concern? It is my opinion, that, unfortunately, this effort will only be made after enough peoples’ lifestyles begin to suffer.
Welp, lucky me because that day is not far off. In fact, it’s just around the corner.
The most dangerous consequence is how it has depleted and continues to deplete forests and entire tree communities (approximately 58 million trees have fallen victim). The most recent and poignant reminder of the seriousness of our depleting forests comes from a paper published in Global Change Biology which states, “Throughout the continental United States…the rapid migration of tree populations suggests that changing tree and forest biogeography could substantially lag habitat shifts already underway.” What does this mean? It means forests can no longer produce the goods we have previously taken from them: think wood, wildlife, clean water etc.
So here’s the kicker, and why I think we might finally see some changes arrive on the personal level of citizens. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Huffington Post, “Forests also support 200,000 jobs and contribute more than $13 billion to local economies every year.” Yes, trees make jobs and they make money. And as bittersweet as it is, perhaps when people lose the ability to provide for themselves and their loved ones “the drought” will finally become more than just a banal talking point on KCAL 9.
In an article published by Slate this past December, it was asserted that “less living trees means less carbon dioxide sucked out of the atmosphere,” and you know what that means? That means global warming has one less hoop to jump through. That means it’s time to plant a more sustainable lawn. It’s time to take shorter showers. Time to sweep your driveway, not hose it.
The drought is not California’s dirty little secret to be joked about or shied away from discussing. It is a flagrant reminder that our entire world is under threat of mass extinction which we caused and only we can try to fix.