According to Watchdog.org, the House Committee on Natural Resources, and WND, the current drought in California is a man-made phenomenon, the result of human activity and climate change. According to LiveScience, the New York Times, and the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, the California drought is a natural phenomenon, just part of an ongoing cycle of climate changes too long for us comparatively short-lived human beings to adequately judge without historical records.
Clearly, there’s some confusion here. And when even the professionals tasked with studying climatology can’t agree on what exactly created the drought, we humble documentarians can’t claim to have any special insight. However, we can present the evidence, which is what I hope to do in this post.
First, let’s look at the evidence that this drought was man-made. Obviously, this is a subject we know a lot about, since we’re making an entire documentary on the ecological impact of water importation. For the past hundred years, the state of California has taken water from rural areas and moved it to its ever-growing metropolises, leaving behind depleted lakes, dry rivers, and lowered water tables. Naturally, you can’t dry out a 100-mile-long lake or pump a groundwater basin dry without some negative environmental impact.
On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of natural explanations for the drought, too. Long before the industrial revolution created technologies capable of poisoning the ground, water, and air so thoroughly, tree rings suggest droughts in California could last 100-200 years. Here’s hoping the current one is just a bit shorter than that.
Ultimately, we may not know the exact cause of this drought, but whether it’s natural or man-made, this drought will lead to suffering if people aren’t conscientious with their water usage. Understanding our planet and why it behaves as it does is important, but regardless of what conclusion you reach, the time for conservation is yesterday. If you go to turn on the tap and nothing comes out, is it really going to matter why?