Mythologies and Pathologies of the California Drought
In other words, the California coastal strip is an environmentally unwise place to locate millions of Californians; its swarms exist largely by water transfers from either Northern California or the Sierra Nevada mountains. And yet far too many of its inhabitants have a bad habit of pontificating about water usage for others.
Then we come to the matter of population. California is no longer the 15 million person state that once was adequately served by our forefathers’ water-transfer projects. It is not even the 40 million person state that our ancestors warned could survive long droughts (but only if their descendants of course finish the state and federal water projects). It is instead a 40 million person state with a 20 million person system of reservoirs and canals. In that regard, California’s population would long ago have stayed static, given the recent three decade exoduses of millions of residents tired of high income, sales, and gas taxes, and poor roads, schools, and law enforcement in return.
The great equalizer was illegal immigration. Millions of impoverished arrivals from Mexico and Latin America, since the latest and largest immigration wave of the last forty years, largely explain why the state continues to grow. Aside from the question of legality and whether such massive influxes were a wise or unwise occurrence, most can agree that our liberal establishment welcomed illegal immigration (along with agribusiness, construction industries, and hotels and restaurants), but without any commensurate desire to build the sort of infrastructure that would ensure such new Californians sufficient water -- not to mention jobs in industries like irrigated agriculture, timber, gas and oil drilling, construction, and mining. Instead, the out-of-sight/out-of-mind liberal mindset welcomed millions of foreign nationals in, but then pursued an ever more exclusionary and mostly elite environmentalism that ensured a 40 million person state, but one without the water or employment opportunities to allow rough parity among its diverse residents.
The current drought is a product of nature, which has a bad periodic habit of withholding rain and snow over California, a natural occurring and long-recorded phenomenon that has nothing to do with global warming. We used to accept that fact and its corollary: most Californians preferred to live where there was the least amount of state rain and snow -- and were willing to pay for the necessary infrastructure to make showering in Malibu or Monterey as natural as in Crescent City or Lake Tahoe. But as in most of California’s existential crises -- budgeting, infrastructure, pensions, immigration, education, law enforcement -- the problem lies in its thin coastal corridor, a surreal place where liberal grandees assume that they are exempt from the chaotic ramifications of their own utopian ideologies.
California’s real motto is “We think it up, you live it out.”