Home | About | Donate

Crisis, Opportunity and Climate Austerity in Drought-Stricken California


Crisis, Opportunity and Climate Austerity in Drought-Stricken California

Kate Aronoff

In the midst of a severe drought, California Gov. Jerry Brown has enacted the state’s first mandatory water cuts. The restrictions are aimed at curbing municipal water consumption by 25 percent from 2013 levels, acting on 400 local water-supply agencies.


I have seen 80% reported as just agricultural with 20% used by residential and commercial. With a google search I was able to find one other article listing agriculture at 40% but it doesn't site the source. Assuming 80% is agricultural, our current goal of a 25% reduction in nonagricultural use is just 25% of the 20%, or a total reduction of just 5%. That means if we somehow meet the state mandated goals, we will still consume 95% of our traditional usage. That's certainly not going to fix this issue.

I think it is difficult to make informed decisions without valid data. This article repeats the incorrectly reported "fact" that California will run out of water in one year. The reality is that the amount of water in the state reservoirs and the total amount consumed each year are about the same. HOWEVER, the state reservoir system is only a fraction of where the water comes from. Most of our water comes from ground water (See LA Times on line article "No, California won't run out of water in a year" March 20, 2015). Our water is managed by local water districts, not the state. Each has its reservoirs and each is at a different level of crisis.

I'm nitpicking, I suppose, but if we are going to tackle a severe ecological crisis, we should at least get our hands on accurate facts from which to make decisions.


My reply was meant to point out the lack of specific facts available to any of us, not an attack on the writer who has done a brilliant job of pointing out how the "solutions" so far seem only to support our corporate and wealthy overlords. If there is anything positive in this, it is that a very real crisis may be necessary to push positive social change. Maybe the best thing to hope for is a structural collapse that forces people to stop and consider how things should be.


Brown won his office with 18% of voting age Californians. People are not stupid, they are boycotting fake democracy.

Real democracy will eventually prevail, perhaps after the military hierarchy steps in to preserve order and becomes bogged down, as it always does (it's way easier to blow stuff up than get bogged down running the show).


From the article:

"Gov. Brown’s cutbacks may well set the stage for a new and troubling wave of climate adaptation policies that blame individuals for industry’s externalities, and open the floodgates to back-door privatization."

This is the same trend popularized in this site's message threads and no doubt on others: this idea that whatever failures befall our republic, blame voters/consumers/all Americans first.

It's similar to the "bad apple" thesis which leaves power and its command centers out of the calculus to instead focus on the supposed few loose screws at the bottom.

It's akin to seeing cops fake scenes of their own naked assaults on civilians by trying to say that force or the threat of force was equal on "both sides."

It's the idiom that uses an all-inclusive WE frame to hide what very real agents and entities acting outside of established law are doing.

There are many other striking examples, but I'll quit here... for now.


Friggin Hallelujah! I've been pointing out how this programming works for YEARS and I do see more and more published writers noticing the same thing:

"As Andreas Malm recently wrote in Jacobin, “ours is the geological epoch not of humanity, but of capital.” Laying out the contours of what he calls the Anthropocene myth, Malm explained that most popular conceptions on how to confront climate change, even among the sympathetic, fall back on “species-thinking, humanity-bashing, undifferentiated collective self-flagellation,” and an, “appeal to the general population of consumers to mend their ways and other ideological pirouettes that only serve to conceal the driver.” In other words, humanity is left stagnant, scape-goating our basic (fictional) flaws for a problem that’s the collective creation of the 1 percent, rather than the 99 percent."



If California had a governor like Rich Scott or Scott Walker, the problem would not be discussed or words like Global Warming EVEN uttered. Choose your poison within this duopoly's control, while efforts to slime just the Dem side of the equation should be seen for what they are.


I would hardly call it nit-picking. What you are attempting to do is discredit any attempts to counter the problem. Your post is a lot like those that feign neutrality while ultimately working to discredit the SCIENTIFIC consensus on global warming.


Your paid "need" to attack Naomi Klein is obvious to anyone other than another tag team member.

Just like the nuclear power trolls with recognizable names who manage to show up whenever that topic is published, YOU are a reliable FIXTURE constantly using cherry picked data to discredit those working hardest in oil divestment, added to those promoting a movement that presses leadership to give up its chains to Big Oil & Big Coal and Big Fracking. Like other Tom Carberry replacements, your evident JOB is to work hard to discredit the likes of Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Kumi Naidoo and no doubt others... in other words, your BETTERS in the struggle to work earnestly in sustaining life on this planet.

All you do is throw rotten tomatoes from the jeering section and someone is no doubt picking up the tab for this shit.


Thanks for your thoughts, Siouxrose11. I don't wish to discredit the existence of anthropological climate change or suggest anyone delay any action that might help to curb the problem. As a soon-to-be global climate refugee, I speak of only my own inability to get the specific information I need to make hard decisions in my own life. If you live where the water is running out, like I do, it's critical to know if shortages are coming in 6 months or 6 years. No one, including the local water district, seem able to provide any hard estimates.


I cannot divine Gov Brown's motive for the course he choose. Indulge me a moment and suppose he has facts that indicate the fastest way to save water is reducing individual consumption for lawn watering, showers, and the like. OK, sure, it puts the burden first on the public rather than business, but what if it doesn't work and the rains don't come. What's next. Maybe Gov Brown will then go to the next level and put restrictions on business consumption. In the meantime, CA and the rest of us get CA produce on our tables. Maybe when he imposes business restrictions, he starts on the extraction industry and leaves ag for last. Life goes on without oil, gas, and light, but not without food and water. How bad will the drought get? If it gets worse maybe we all will see the purpose and even wisdom behind Gov Moonbeams approach.