|A man documents California water wasting to post on social|
media. Image from The Today Show.
The latest Drought Sign Of the Apocalypse: There is now zero percent of normal snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
That's the snow that should be there now running into reservoirs to help get California through its normal long dry summer.
There's just little patches of snow up there. Nothing to really help quench California's thirst.
As reservoirs lower and dry vegetation threatens to burst into flames, Californians are being told more and more urgently: Don't waste ANY water.
A few people might not be getting that memo, or feel like they are above water restrictions.
That has led to a new trend in California, says The Guardian newspaper: Drought shaming, or in the hashtag vernacular of Twitter, #droughtshaming.
Probably inevitably, notes the Guardian, the drought shaming has become the latest war between the ultra rich 1 percent, and the rest of us.
Says The Guardian:
"Targets in the past few weeks have included Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, for maintaining obscenely green, lush lawns, visible from the air; Walmart, for sourcing its bottled water from the drought-stricken state at enormous profit; rich Beverly Hills residents, for filling up their pools; and even a local Ritz hotel that was 'water misting' its too-rich-to-be-hot patrons."
Of course, drought shaming via social media is an alternative to getting real data about real water wasters, because in many cases, such data is no longer available.
It's now next to impossible for water managers to get real data on who is actually wasting water and who is not, according to Mother Jones, originally reported by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
From Mother Jones:
"In 1997, state legislators voted to weaken an important open government law, the California Public Records Act. The reason: Palo Alto city officials were concerned with tech executives' personal information would be made public, as Reveal reported last month.
The move largely made individual and corporate water use private even though public agencies coudl have simply redacted the sensitive personal information - like home addresses and phone numbers - as they often do when releasing records."
Back in 1991, when California was also going through a bad drought, the Oakland Tribune sued the East Bay Municipal Utility District under the Public Record Act to obtain the list of the biggest residential water users.
The resulting Oakland Tribune story on the biggest residential water users, the district toughened conservation rules.
Now, with the public records laws weakened because of the sensibilities of Palo Alto tech industry executives, no such reporting can so far go on. Which means there are a few residential water wasters out there acting with impunity.
That is, until they are found out by individuals using the #droughtshaming hashtag.
So you see, drought has one other effect. It causes a lot of public discord and disagreement.
Maybe El Nino will bring welcome rains to California by November or so. Until then, it's going to be a long hot California summer. And I'm not just talking about the weather. I'm talking Californians' emotions and politics.