“There is a great sickness in California” [Darleen Click]
Victor Davis Hanson on fire.
Unlike 1976-77, there are no longer just 23 million Californians, but 40 million. But unlike the past, Californians in the 1970s gave up on completing the state California Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project that had supplemented the earlier Colorado River, Big Creek, and Hetch Hetchy water storage and transference efforts.
At some fateful moment in the 1970s, the other California on the coast, drunk with the globalized wealth that poured into Napa Valley, the Silicon Valley, the great coastal university nexuses at Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and Caltech, the entertainment industry, the defense industry, and the financial industry decided that they had transcended the old warnings of more Californians needing far more water to survive more droughts. When you are rich, you can afford for the first time in your life to favor a newt with spots on his toes over someone else that lacks your money, clout, and sensitivities.
The once envisioned reservoirs on the Klamath were cancelled. The supplemental lakes on the Sacramento and American were as well. There was to be no twin wet-year storage lake south of the San Luis Reservoir. No Temperance Flat was to augment Millerton Lake. Such construction was considered far too 19th century in it unnatural building and damming and canaling.
Of course, it was. But so was the most unnatural project of them all, Hetch Hetchy, the engineering marvel that brought the purest water in America by the force of gravity over 160 miles into the Bay Area, making the dense corridor of San Francisco to Silicon Valley what it is today.
Had we finished the California Water Project and the Central Valley Project, or had population tapered off at 30 million, or had global warming been real and created a Central and Southern California tropics with 40 inches a year of rain, then we would not be courting ruin. But we grew and stopped building water storage at the same time and the climate remained what it always was. [...]
Note what our forefathers did not envision. They did not foresee that this contemporary and far wealthier generation would not just abandon their plans, and thus make it dangerous for California to grow as it had, but also would create a fifth and novel use for our manmade and unnatural lakes: to release precious water to enhance green fantasies about returning to a 19th century landscape of salmon jumping in our southern rivers from sea to Sierra, and bait fish and minnows in the delta swimming as they had for eons. How odd that naturalists wanted unnatural reservoir to improve on nature. [...]
I say dreams, because the pre-reservoir river landscape of 19th-century California had been characterized both by too much and too little water. Rivers flooded in the spring (Tulare Lake in the southern San Joaquin Valley was for a few months each spring one of the largest fresh-water lakes west of the Great Lakes), only to grow dry by September as the snowmelt was gone and the new storms had not yet arrived. Only the reservoirs that the environmentalists scolded us about could provide the necessary water for a utopian steady year-round river that had never existed. [...]
There is a great sickness in California, home of the greatest number of American billionaires and poor people, land of the highest taxes and about the worst schools and roads in the nation. The illness is a new secular religion far more zealous and intolerant than the pre-Reformation zealotry of the Church. Modern elite liberalism is based on the simple creed that one’s affluence and education, one’s coolness and zip code, should shield him from the consequences of one’s bankrupt thoughts that he inflicts on others. We are a state run by dead souls who square the circle of their own privilege, who seek meaning in rather selfish lives, always at someone else’s expense.
It is that simple — that pernicious.
Tags: california, victor davis hanson