Gov. Jerry Brown says the drought sucking California dry is proof that climate change is real -- and so are its consequences. His remarks come days after California adopted mandatory water rationing as the drought drags into its fourth year.
“With the weather that’s happening in California, climate change is not a hoax,” Brown said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re dealing with it, and it’s damn serious.” He said the water crisis “is a wake-up call” for not only California but also the rest of the country, which depends on the Golden State for a huge portion of its fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Brown last week ordered California residents and municipalities to cut statewide water usage by 25 percent. Water suppliers are required to adjust pricing to encourage Californians to conserve water and avoid wasteful habits, such as taking long showers and regularly hosing down cars. Residents also face restrictions on watering lawns and flushing toilets, while cities are prohibited from watering the ornamental grass on street medians. The measures are expected to save an estimated 500 billion gallons between now and February 2016, according to the state.
California’s water reservoirs have steadily dried up in recent years due to the disappearing snow pack, which measured at just 8 percent of usual levels this spring, and scarce rainfall. State water experts say California has two more years’ worth of reserves, though other scientists estimate the state has only enough water to get through one more year if the drought persists.
Brown’s water policy has drawn criticism because it exempts agricultural producers, which together guzzle a whopping 80 percent of California’s water supply. The governor defended the decision in the Sunday interview, arguing that farmers and ranchers are “not watering their lawn or taking long showers.”
“The farmers have fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of land," he told ABC. "They’re pulling up vines and trees. Farm workers who are very low end of the economic scale here are out of work. There are people in agriculture areas that are really suffering.”