by DAN SCHWALB
California is often seen as a highly desirable place. The warm weather, hip culture and sprawling coastline continue to draw people to the state. But California has its fair share of problems, and recent events have brought these to light.
The San Francisco area was hit with a 6.0 earthquake on Sunday, causing widespread damage in the Napa Valley. Nearly 200 citizens were injured, fires broke out, and pipelines burst following the seismic event. Thousands of homes lost power, and mobile homes lay in shambles on the ground. California governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, and warned residents of potential aftershocks in coming weeks.
As if the earthquake wasn’t enough, California is suffering from severe droughts. Since January, the state has been at record lows for precipitation, and some rural areas have run out of tap water. Tulare County is delivering water bottles to residents because local reservoirs are completely dry. The state government has been devising billion dollar plans to build water reserves, but these are yet to be implemented
Ready for the worst news? Scientists are now saying that the droughts and earthquakes may be related. Over the past century, California has pumped massive amounts of groundwater in order to counteract its dry climate.
This water extraction has caused the San Andreas Fault to rise a few millimeters per year. The Fault had historically been weighed down by underground water, but pumping this water has caused San Andreas to creep towards earth’s surface. This fault line, already one of the most active in the U.S., now puts the West Coast at risk of more severe quakes.
If scientists predict correctly, California will continue its dry spell, and face even worse earthquakes in the coming years. These environmental disasters could lead to an uninhabitable California; causing 40 million state residents to consider moving elsewhere. Don’t be surprised when Californians move to a neighborhood near you.