The title used for this post is copied from Politico writer David Dayen simply because, well, it just about sums up the water crisis in California. California has been battling a massive and extensive drought for the past three years now. However, this is not to imply that their water supply was under control before then; the Colorado River has been exploited by the United States and Mexico for decades now. Yet as of today, the severity and length of this particular drought rivals California’s historic blight of 1580, perhaps even overtaking it. With this drought, a myriad of issues swell to the surface. As congressman John Garamendi commented, “It’s going to affect everything that goes on in the state.” Everything from residential life and public works to rural farming, fish nurseries, and native species will be not merely threatened but actually hurt (more so than they already have been for decades). This problem spans the entire social spectrum: economically, socially, and politically. Farmers may be forced to leave millions of acres fallow this year, possibly creating a $2 billion dent in California’s food trade. State governor Jerry Brown has pleaded for a state-wide voluntary reduction of 30% in residential water usage. Communities in the Central Valley are at risk of not having drinking water in the next 60-90 days. Politically House Republicans have proposed bills to manage the current damage occurring but problematically are also violating the Endangered Species Act and California’s state constitution. Democrats have been pushing federal funds to be allocated in reserve in the case of an emergency in the state but are met with a familiar brick of gridlock in Congress.
As is patent to anyone who reads the article or simply listens to just a minute of the issues regarding California’s drought, this crisis presents a multifaceted problem. Attacking one obstacle will not make the rest go away; this situation is not just a series of hurdles on a track to hop over one by one. There needs to be an across the board effort to address the drought. However, the most frustrating part of this to me is how the superficiality of politics trumps reality. President Obama recently flew to Sacramento to address a worried crowd about the problem. Republicans and Democrats each have been scrambling to find quick fixes to the short term problems at hand. However, no one at the highest levels of government seem willing to work towards a long term solution. As legislative director for Environment California put it, “Politicians are still looking at the drought as a political issue and not as the environmental and economic nightmare that it could be.” That statement rings true for both sides of the political spectrum. However, that is nothing new. And hey, at least they are doing something. The part that really deflates my hopes is that in talking about the root of the drought problem, one has to acknowledge its familiar foe global warming. And whenever global comes into the picture, House Republicans sit on their haunches and dig in. Because of the party’s adamant nature, addressing the drought as an environmental and economic disaster will never take precedence over the rest of politics in America. Seemingly at every turn, the Earth is treated as a tool that we as a society use to further our self interest rather than its foundational status that it actually is. Literally everything in life has to do with this planet. People are dependent on Earth more than Earth is dependent on people. Eventually, this epiphany will resonate in all Americans as conditions become more dire and more widespread. However, it is disappointing to see that our chosen elite that we have given the responsibility of looking after our nation’s best interests are willfully ignorant and selfish enough to put Earth on hold. Sometimes politics needs to take a seat and let the citizen of Earth in us take the wheel.