FOR California, there hasn’t ever been a summer quite like the summer of 2015. The state and its 39 million residents are about to enter the fifth year of a drought. It has been the driest four-year period in California history — and the hottest, too.
Yet by almost every measure except precipitation, California is doing fine. Not just fine: California is doing fabulously.
In 2014, the state’s economy grew 27 percent faster than the country’s economy as a whole — the state has grown faster than the nation every year of the drought.
California has won back every job lost in the Great Recession and set new employment records. In the past year, California created 462,000 jobs — nearly 9,000 a week. No other state came close.
The drought has inspired no Dust Bowl-style exodus. California’s population has grown faster even as the drought has deepened.
More than half the fruits and vegetables grown in the United States come from California farms, and last year, the third growing season of the drought, both farm employment and farm revenue increased slightly.
Amid all the nervous news, the most important California drought story is the one we aren’t noticing. California is weathering the drought with remarkable resilience, because the state has been getting ready for this drought for the past 20 years.
The future of water is going to be turbulent for all of us — not far away, but right where we live; not in some distant decade, but next month or next spring. A sense of water insecurity is coming to many places that have never had a water worry. Here’s what California’s scorching summer of 2015 is showing us: We know what to do. We just have to do it. MORE