Things In California Are Even Worse Than You Realize

Photo: Global Warming Images/REX USA.
If you don't find the fact that California is going into its fourth year of drought scary enough — it's the worst in 1,200 years, mind you — a water scientist from NASA just dropped a truth bomb that's absolutely terrifying: There's only about one year of water left in the state. Period.

"As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought," Jay Famiglietti, PhD, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech, writes in a Los Angeles Times op-ed. "NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century."

The worst part of all? There's no real plan in place for what happens next in a situation like this. Because California has always naturally bounced back from droughts in the past, everyone has been winging it, relying on groundwater and waiting for rain that hasn't come.

As Tom McKay at News.Mic points out, the water crisis will likely have the biggest impact on the state's agricultural community — which currently accounts for a whopping 80% of its water usage. (According to Carolee Krieger, president and executive director of the California Water Impact Network, the almond crop alone uses enough water to supply 75% of the state’s population.) But, recently, your average citizens are feeling it, too. People in the Bay Area are actually stealing water from their neighbors.

So, what are we supposed to do about the situation? Dr. Famiglietti says that immediate mandatory water rationing is a logical first step, but it's not enough; the public needs to care about the water crisis — and be directly involved in the discussion around how California should handle it. The good news? He believes we have the technology and expertise to figure out a solution — he just thinks it's way past time we get started on it already.

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