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Drought 4: The Droughtening

March 6, 2015

With the recent snowpack measurements reporting that the Sierra snowpack is now at 19% of multi-decade averages – some areas are down as low as 5% of average – it’s pretty clear we here in California are headed for our fourth year of severe drought. Which, while nasty sounding on its own, doesn’t actually tell the whole picture of how 11 of the past 15 years have been abnormally dry. If you look at a drought map of California, it’s almost funny with the map pretty much covered in its entirety in colours representing “holy crap dry” to “oh gods the abyss has invaded.”

I can’t help think about Australia here, and how they ended their decade of droughts: they legislated an end to them. With a stroke of a pen, they ceased having a drought. No water fell from the sky, of course; a drought is just a drought based on some past average. They realized, this isn’t an anomaly – this is the new normal.

Welcome to the new normal.

I think we’ve been hiding and hoping and praying that this will shift, this will change, as though all the signs are somehow wrong and we’re just fine, thankyouverymuch. But we have made our bed, and now we need to lie in it. Or, rather, stand up and face it. We can take steps to aid in removing that which is propelling this climate shift forward, and, moreso, we need to re-visit our water use policies in this state. I’m talking about more than just not watering lawns, I’m talking about the byzantinian gaggle of water “rights” that bleed rivers dry to flood irrigate fields (where it happily evaporates mostly away) amongst other things, the irresponsible drilling that is depleting aquifers faster than a soda at a diner, and the fouling of water through poor industrial use and other runoff.

I invite everyone to this new challenge. We’re all needed to get behind this, push for altering the “normal/conventional” way of doing things (from our stores to our manufacturers to our habits to beyond) and make a dent now. Look, choose, and talk.

There’s possibility in them thar hills, if we take the actions to seize it.

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