- Samantha Winters
Streamline: Drought in California; Another Major Climate Emergency?
California is currently in a state of emergency because of a massive drought. For the past few years, California has faced an extreme drought, but over the past month, California’s governor Gavin Newsom has declared California is in a state of emergency. It has always been in the midst of extreme heatwaves, but this is unlike anything the state had ever seen. While all of California has dealt with this disaster, Southern California is facing the brunt of this record-breaking drought.
California’s weather fluctuates between two main states of extreme drought and rain; the two states are called El Niño and La Niña. Both represent different climate patterns that trace back as early as the 1600s. El Niño pushes Water south by a large jet stream, causing a huge influx of Water. It also tends to affect marine life living on coasts heavily. La Niña, however, tends to push Water north and increases the winds. California’s drought is currently categorized as La Niña, which explains why it is affecting Southern California more heavily than the rest of the state. The southern parts of the state are left in an extreme drought because the climate changes are pushing Water further north.
The most obvious solution to this problem would be to move the Water further south. Still, unfortunately, the problem isn’t that simple. Logistics and money would make this move almost impossible, especially given the size of the state. Transferring Water would require a massive pipe that would be extremely expensive and cause other environmental concerns. In addition, this pipe would require excessive amounts of energy to be built, which would only harm the environment.
So what else can we do? Governor Newsom has urged California residents to cut their Water usage by fifteen percent, but most residents have ignored this message. Even with a statewide emergency, most people have only cut their Water usage by five percent. Southern California is in dire constraints and needs a solution quickly. The most glaring solution comes from our government. The La Niña patterns have gotten increasingly worse with climate change, so the most obvious solution would be to fix this problem directly at the source. Suppose we can resolve the larger issues in our climate. In that case, the La Niña and El Niño weather patterns will become much more manageable, but this is much easier said than done.
Funding and policy may be the end goal, but we communally can make simple adjustments to mitigate the crisis. Some current solutions to incorporate into your everyday life are conservation and recycling, especially in California. Conservation preserves Water to be distributed more evenly across the country. For California residents, conservation is especially important because this provides more access to Water for Southern California residents. Recycling is important because it stops the pollution of plastic in our Water. However, the necessary cleaning process does result in wasting a portion of the Water, so the cleaner we can keep it means the less we wind up wasting.
At Water&, we believe that everyone deserves access to Water, even amidst climate change difficulties. Our world may be changing, but our needs have stayed the same. Water is a basic necessity, and we must adapt our lives to give everyone the resources they deserve.
Sources https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/16/us/la-nina-california-drought.html https://www.drought.gov/states/california https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/11/22/la-nina-is-california-heading-into-another-dry-winter/ https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/19-million-people-drought-emergency-southern-california-rcna5163 https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html https://www.climate.gov/media/13112 https://ktla.com/news/california/why-cant-we-just-move-water-to-solve-a-drought/ https://www.pcl.org/campaigns/water/8-affordable-water-solutions/