Urban Blog #4 Posted on April 8, 2015 by saorsa2014 Usual rules – due by Sunday 12th – midnight Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related
27 thoughts on “Urban Blog #4”
It is a common enough saying that no good deed goes unpunished, and in the case of Los Angeles in particular and the general Orange County area, the notoriously favorable weather of Southern California is offset by a significant array of hazards to rival almost any other city in the United States. I would say that the three primary hazards that are most commonly known and most discussed in the media are drought, wildfires, and earthquakes, with the record-setting drought California is going through currently taking precedence over the other two at the moment, although the drought is no doubt contributing to the abnormally dangerous upcoming fire season.
In order to properly examine the effects of and risks involved with wildfires in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, it is important to first look at the drought running rampant in the area. According to the National Geographic, the months of February and March of 2015 were among the warmest ever recorded in the area, a statistic that when combined with the fact that precipitation stands at 50% of expected ordinary values, or lower in many places, has contributed to dangerous hot and dry conditions across much of the Los Angeles area. On a more global scale, this year the conditions for El Nino have been met, albeit in a modified form known as the El Nino Modoki pattern, which is the name for warming seen towards the center of the Pacific with concentrations of cooler waters to either side, as opposed to the more standard anomalous warming in the eastern Pacific seen with a standard El Nino. This pattern typically contributes to even drier conditions in the Los Angeles area, further compounding the drought and causing significant stress to the surrounding flora, leading to larger scale die-offs of trees, especially at higher altitudes. Combined with the efforts of the pervasive and insidious pine beetle, the natural curing of native flora in the upcoming month or two will no doubt combine with the drought to form an especially dangerous fire season, particularly at high altitude. Sadly, none of the articles I read referenced any sort of climatological relief present anytime in the near future.
Fortunately, drought does not have as dramatic of an effect on the well-known earthquake risk in the Los Angeles area. That being said, however, new discoveries in the field of earthquake science are leading to scientists estimating increased risk for the Los Angeles area in the future. Scientists have recently discovered earthquakes’ potential to rupture along multiple faults instead of single faults, and have also discovered their ability to “jump” across fault gaps as big as seven miles, as opposed to the previously record observation of three miles. This jumping phenomena was sadly rather poorly understood until the scientific community observed it firsthand in the earthquake that led to the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. This ability for earthquakes to “jump” across multiple zones has, when combined with the continued analysis of the Southern California fault systems to be a more massively interconnected system than previously thought, led scientists to almost double the estimated chance of a magnitude 8.0 or higher in California in the next thirty years. Ordinarily, with a state as large as California residents of a single city, even one as large as Los Angeles, might not feel that concerned, but it is important to keep in mind that a disproportionate number of historically impactful, active fault systems are directly proximal to the city. Even with California’s seismic disaster preparedness programs, simulations run by the USGS have indicated that in the event of “the Big One” hitting the Los Angeles area, hundreds upon hundreds of people would die, thousands would be injured, lifelines into and out of the city would be severely compromised, fires would in many places potentially rage into giant infernos covering dozens of city blocks, and, worst of all, the cities underground water distribution system would be severely compromised.
Given such dire potential consequences to living in the Los Angeles area, it is a wonder that it is one of the most populous metropolitan regions in the world. I can only assume that such behavior falls in line with the Just World Hypothesis, where people innately feel that good things happen to good people. Hopefully, given that earthquakes, wildfires, and drought don’t seem to care how nice you are to your family and friends, we can see the drought in California beginning to lessen in the coming years, and any relief of stresses along the fault system occurring way out in the desert.
Click to access assessment.pdf
Forgot to add my sources if anyone was interested!
It’s no surprise that Americans flock to Southern California for the beautiful weather, energetic beaches and the chance of hitting their “big break” in the entertainment industry. But what may be surprising, however, is that the “natural” disasters occurring in this paradise may not be all that natural. Earthquakes, wildfire, and drought (particularly threatening as of recently), are a result of the forced ecological growth in Southern California, in attempt to maintain its ever-increasing population. This social maintenance is indirectly causing some of California’s worst disasters.
The current drought conditions in Southern California are a result of lower than average precipitation in combination with higher than average temperatures. Also, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, El Nino has arrived for 2015, meaning Southern California will face even more dry conditions. Native plant life will be strained, not only enhancing the severity of the drought, but also producing superfluous amounts dry material for burning in the upcoming fire season.
The Los Angeles Planning Department has spent decades converting significant ecological areas into residential and entertainment areas. “Historic wildfire corridors have been turned into view-lot suburbs, wetland liquefaction zones into marinas and floodplains into industrial districts and housing tracts,” according the author Mike Davis. By failing to conserve natural ecosystems, Los Angeles has had to value engineer water into the city, just to replace the water that they deliberately engineered out of the city for the benefit of its socioeconomic growth.
Earthquakes, while not directly related to drought and fire threats, are an increasing cause of concern for California residents. Recent seismic discoveries have revealed that California’s fault system is under a substantial amount of tectonic stress. Seismologists have identified a new, more prevalent fault typology underneath Southern California, and these “thrust faults” act like a network, communicating tectonic stress to one another. While they are smaller and generally more benign, than the more dominant strike-slip faults, they have the potential to be just as dangerous because of their frequency and communication, which could cause some seismic waves to be transferred across several miles, making the entire Los Angeles metropolis “epicentral.”
However, much like fire and drought disasters, the increasing threat of earthquakes can be blamed on the failure of the Los Angeles government to conserve natural systems for the benefit of the city’s development. According to Davis, the amount of subsurface drilling is higher in Los Angeles than any other city in the world. This drilling has placed an incredible amount of stress within tectonic plates; a stress that is now being transferred across thrust faults and causing destructive quakes.
While Los Angeles, and Southern California as a whole, may be past the point of no return in terms of ecological development, it is important that we use this as an example of what not to do when developing a new city. Planning departments need to be aware of natural systems within an area before proposing ways to enhance the city’s socioeconomic growth. If they don’t, the long-term effects on the city could be more destructive to the city itself than the economy can make up for. Los Angeles can get away with the harm they’ve caused because the tourism, software and entertainment industries will perpetually fuel population growth, despite harmful ecological conditions. Other cities, with less commerce and vitality, may not be so lucky.
Very nice discussion, especially regarding the failures of planning.
California is a nice place to live. This state has beautiful beaches, nice weather, and famous places like Hollywood. However California has had some natural disasters problems such as earthquakes, drought, and forest sides. Although some people dream to move there, they should in their minds that earthquakes like occurred in 1994 could happen again or they can leave their houses because of wildfires.
First, earthquakes have been a big problem in California. In the western portion of the United States, more precisely in the state of California, there is a tangential motion between two tectonic plates (the North American plate and the Pacific plate), the first slide 14 mm per year in southeast sense as the Pacific plate moves 5 mm in the opposite direction of the former. This movement of the plates generated one of the most famous failures of the planet, the San Andreas. The friction between these two plates generates frequent earthquakes in the region, making California one of the areas of greatest tectonic instability in the world. The US West Coast, especially California, is one of the places with the highest seismic activity on the planet. The earthquake 1906 was the result of a processing plate movement. This occurs when the tectonic plates move sideways and abut each other. The earth shook for about a minute on April 18, 1906. The rating was 7.8 points on the Richter scale. The damage was devastating. More than 3,000 people died and thousands were injured due to the tremors and the resulting fires. This year, the territory of the Greater Los Angeles trembled with a frequency not seen since 1994. The last six months have registered intense seismic activity with earthquakes that surpassed the 4.0 on the Richter scale. In 1994, the Northridge earthquake of magnitude 6.7 killed 57 people and left more than 5000 injured. Since then were rarely observed greater than 4.0 tremor.
Second, wildfires have been occurred frequently. The catastrophic forest fires, fires involving high losses in human and infrastructures are becoming increasingly common in different regions of planet, particularly in climatic regions of the Mediterranean, characterized by a coincidence between the dry and hot seasons.
The occurrence of catastrophic fires is explained in part by climatic events. For example, in California oversized increased fires four times in 1986, primarily as a result of longer and hot summers. These fires also caused was burnt six times more forest relatively the period between 1970 and 1986.
In addition to the effects mentioned and who take a more visible and direct dimension
people and infrastructure, the devastating fires also have a strong and devastating impact on soil, water and biodiversity of the planet, to induce CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) such as CO (carbon monoxide), CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxide). California have had in 2014 the worst fire season in recent years and so far there have been more than 4,641 fires in the state. Around this time last year, there were 600 outbreaks less. Three years of drought in the most populated region of the United States forced the farmers to leave their fields fallow and become dependent communities of well water with dry bushes serving as fuel for wildfires .High temperatures on summer in various parts of California geography, together with strong winds blowing in a timely manner and mainly dry chronic uprooting California three years ago, are the main responsible of one of the most damaging years for the California forest.
Los Angeles has one of the most profoundly difficult problems regarding their environment and landscape. They are hit with a concoction of firestorms, earthquakes, and droughts; each one making the other worse. The main problem with this is the high density population living right in the middle of it all with infrastructure that is incapable of withstanding the disasters.
How do you solve a problem as large as this one? This is a problem that we would call a wicked problem, it has no definite answer and the more we learn about the problem the more questions we have. The main hub of Los Angeles sits atop hidden fault lines that could erupt at any moment and if history tells us anything it is that the city is highly unprepared for such a disaster. Buildings that are earthquake resistant can only hold out so long, overpasses don’t stand a chance in such an event, and the list could go on. Do we try to fix the infrastructure to withstand these disasters? That in itself causes major problems, including who is funding this project, how do we go about “fixing” nearly every structure in LA, where would we even start. What about the problems of droughts in LA? The resources from where LA gets its water are beginning to run dry from overuse and environmental factors. What happens when the water dries up, the agriculture will dry up with the lakes. People will eventually get tired of it and move away if they can. ”If they can” meaning the upper and middle class leaving those who cannot afford it to suffer the drought along with an abandoned city. Maybe I’m just being dramatic, but what happens when there is no more water for their suburban pools and forced green yards? It’s not the first time that the middle class has abandoned a city to leave those who cannot afford to leave to suffer with the consequences of the development. One thing is for sure the longer the drought the more firestorms will pop up closer and closer to neighborhoods. There are houses built in the firewalls of Southern California, these cannot have been well planned or thought out. The fire is not going to decide to go somewhere else it’s going to move directly over your home. LA does not even have enough firefighters to deal with the fires they have now, what happens if it gets worse?
All in all, Los Angeles has some serious thinking to do about their next step in dealing with the environment. Though politicians seem to want to sweep these problems under the rug, you can only do that for so long. It may even take a disaster for people to wake up and realize that something needs to be done about this.
California is known for many great things such as nice weather, beautiful beaches, celebrities, and expensive houses. It is also known for having some of the worst droughts, wildfires, and earthquakes. A lot of people breeze over this fact when analyzing the area and whether or not to live there. Some don’t understand the consequences these natural disasters could create in the present as well as the future for the state.
Because California is located on the San Andreas fault, earthquakes are extremely common. There are thousands of small earthquakes each year. Most of these aren’t felt because they are too small. However, some of them can cause massive amounts of damage such as cracked sewer pipes, power failures, breaks in major highways, as well as high rise steel frame buildings collapsing. This calls for a lot of time and money for repairing damage and redesigning. Money that could be spent on public transit or housing goes to rebuilding roads and existing structures.
Droughts are an even bigger issue in some cases than earthquakes. There is no telling how long they will last and create a nasty chain of events. Currently, California is currently going through a drought. Some people think a drought goes as far as not being able to water your yard, wash your car, and unbearable heat. But droughts are much more destructive. For example, there is an increase in West Nice Virus cases. Since a lot more water in nature becomes stagnant, mosquitoes flourish and thrive. There is also a large rat, ant, and rattlesnake problem. Rats, for example, which usually live underground become desperate for water and must go to public places such as dog parks to drink from their bowls. This also brings in snakes closer to people because they follow the tasty rats. Droughts leave the state dry, which is a perfect condition for wildfires to start and rapidly spread.
Wildfires leave a legacy of environmental devastation is the swaths of southern California. They leave more than a temporary path of destruction. They can destroy entire acres of century old trees or new, young shrubs that haven’t had the chance to drop their seeds. It would take years for these areas to become green again. Birds, rabbits, and other animals struggle to keep a balanced life while endangered animals will find themselves trapped in small areas of refuge. Because many areas of California have grasses with shallow roots, it causes landslides and erosion when they get destroyed. It can completely change the ecology of the area. Scientists urge the protection and restoration of effected areas to preserve the natural forests and habitats. Wildfires can also cause millions of dollars of damage to neighborhoods and businesses.
These natural disasters that are frequent in California can dramatically change the land, wildlife, way of life for the locals, and infrastructure. It should be a concern that is taken very seriously. As of now, it looks like the problems will only increase and worsen
Good discussion, nice job integrating the consequences of drought
Southern California faces what seems like a fast approaching crisis. A severe drought that has slim chances of improving, compounded by the ever increasing need water to combat constant wildfires and irrigate the suffering agricultural industry forecasts a grim future for the region. In addition, it is widely known that the area is seismically unstable which only increases the difficulty of maintaining the sprawling and costly infrastructure. If California intends to remain one of the world’s largest economies, circumstances demand a rapid and all-encompassing response. While there might be some hope for California, many believe that even the best efforts would not be enough to change the direction of the state.
It seems that the issues demand a shift in cultural thinking. Fires are such an issue because burns are suppressed to the point that when they do occur, ample fuel is available. Burns are suppressed because people continue to build in fire prone areas. Drought and water shortages occur both due to natural conditions but also because of a cultural mentality of water as an undiminishing resource. Recently the Governor of California issued state wide restrictions on water usage as a step in addressing the issue. Many cities have also outlawed watering lawns. While these are noble steps in combating the issue, their affect will be minimal. While cities do consume a substantial portion of the water used by the state, farmers use about four times as much water on their crops. While it might be simple to have people stop watering their lawns, how can you tell a farmer to stop watering their crops? There is no easy solution to this problem. While farmers are making substantial efforts to use more drought resistant crops and employ more water efficient irrigation techniques, these are large and slow changes that will ultimately only be a small piece of the solution.
In some coastal cities like Santa Barbra, the idea of desalination is being revisited. In 1991 Santa Barbra invested around thirty-million dollars in a desalination facility to help combat drought conditions. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, as soon as it was completed, there was a downpour that was double the average annual amount. The facility was forgotten about. The city now plans to update the facility and make it more cost effective. Desalination is a very expensive and energy intensive process. Many environmentalists also worry about the briny super salty byproduct of the process which could impact nearby marine habitats.
There is no silver bullet that will solve the issues faces by California. Ultimately it will be a multifaceted approach from both the bottom up and the top down, assuming that the problems can be solved. If California is to survive, it will be drastically different from how it exists today. The current agricultural and living cultures cannot be sustained. While it is hopeful to think that the citizens of California could unite to solve the issues faced by the state, I find it hard to believe that such unification could be achieved .
Excellent discussion especially regarding the future of LA
As everybody knows, California has some of the best weather in the United States for the outdoors people. If it is going surfing on the beach, hiking in the mountains and the Hollywood sign, or going skiing in the mountains with your friends it is what people want. There is a notion about Californian that it is the stars playground and they run wild. But what you should be looking at is the Forest fires that are running wild in California.
As everyone knows, forest fires are a huge problem in the western part of the United States. They can spring up anywhere that there is lots of dried up vegetation as well as a dry climate that has not had water in a long time. Now, I thought that California being close to water and having lots of water flowing into the area would have no problem preventing fires form happening. But using the image in the bottom left corner, you can see that the fire does not limit itself to the forests, but will jump roads and fire barriers to get to populated areas if they are in its way. So what does a State do that is in need of water to help put out fires, they state to restrict water use in the cities so that they will have enough to fight the fires as they get closer to the city and its people. California had a major water problem this past year as we talked about in class because there was very little runoff into the lakes and rivers that fill the reserves of Cal. so the are now starting to fine people that are using more water than they are allowed to in a given amount of time.
That can be seen in the image in the upper right corner saying “SERIOUS DROUGHT HELP SAVE WATER”. If you are caught using more of the water than you are allowed to, them you will get fined for doing so, and if you keep using more and more the city will come in and turn your water off. I don’t know about you but it would suck to have no water and a fire is running down towards your house. I know that California is supposed to be this place of beauty, but when you have the highest recorded temperature in a long time, and little rainfall to go with this you are really asking to change the entire landscape. It is important to follow the rules that the government is placing on the water usage because they are not trying to hurt you and the land you own, but to save all the land that they can as well as the forest population that makes this place what it is. But looking at the forest fires impact on the human side, these fires can cause millions of dollars to homes, schools and business in the area. You don’t think about where your kids are going to go to school if their school is burned down. Not to mention the hit the economy would taken if a business district was hit but the fires and all of the business moved away to a safer location that would be better for the owners and saver as well. This would have a major impact on the people that are living in this area and the rest of the world.
The photos shown depict the consequences of poor urban planning, specifically that of the Los Angeles region. LA from the start was doomed, as it geographically is placed in perhaps one of the worst sections of land in the U.S (at least for a city of its magnitude). Geologically it is hyper unstable and has frequent earthquakes. Ecologically it is built upon patch of desert that deliberately burns itself to germinate every year. As well as the fact that the region is void of proper amounts of water to support its population.
We have created our own anthropogenic nightmare by creating a city of extreme magnitude in one of the least habitable portions of the country. today LA has grown exponentially from it’s beginnings and is valued as one of the largest American cities. Being located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, LA succumbs to many earthquakes a year and as a result is occasionally destroyed by seismic activity. With a city of extreme magnitude, frequent earthquakes only make for large disasters. Granted we have engineered building specifically designed to withstand most quakes, a lot of the cities infrastructure still is at risk. When large earthquakes hit it can be a catastrophic event. It would indefinitely be considered a national disaster and have effects for everyone. LA also is geographically located in the middle of a desert, so acquiring water for 10 million people or so can be quite a task. Drawing from all the reservoirs of the west has finally begun to take its toll on the citizens. The people of LA are in a severe drought and have become forced to follow restrictions imp-laced by State Government in an effort to fix the impossible. On top of all that there are annual fires that blaze through housing developments. For some strange reason we keep deciding to rebuild houses in the same spots not quite ever realizing that it is a natural phenomenon that only helps vegetation in the land expand.
Granted LA is a host for fantastic weather, great views and and a rather moderate climate year round that suites modern human habits, it cannot hold it’s current population. It puts generations of families at risk and promotes the wrong ethics and values for fragile ecosystems in America. If we treat the countries land like we do with LA we will soon head towards a path of destruction. Ruining the natural states of our environment with irreversible consequences. Straying away from producing massive cities like such will only help lower the carbon dioxide levels of our atmosphere, preserve the lands natural state and resolve the massive problems we are currently enduring in places such as LA. If we all became sustainable at the local level, and lived on a smaller scale and budget there wouldn’t be such catastrophic consequences to natural events taking place. California is going to need to figure out some things within the next decade or so, as the current pace of growth is definitely unsustainable.
Great discussion especially of the consequences of LA’s growth.
Mother Nature has no mercy on the Earth’s inhabitants, even in the prettiest of places such as California. California is a very large state, stretching over 700 miles north to south, and over 200 miles west to east. This causes them to sprawl into the rocky mountain cooler climate in the northeast, to the tropical climate along the Pacific coast, to the warm desert climate in the south. Of these climates, the warmer one in the south has had the greatest impact on the state, bringing with it the most troubles.
The southern region of California is also home to the San Andreas Fault (illustrated in the bottom left picture), a common area for earthquakes to occur along the infamous Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire includes the coasts of land touching the Pacific Ocean, including North America, South America, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, China, and Russia. Since Los Angeles, and California as a whole, is so heavily populated, development and planning must take into account the threat of earthquakes. For example, in Taiwan, the Taipei 101 stood as the world’s tallest tower until 2010, and it features “dampers,” which essentially act as shocks that contract during seismic activity to minimize movement and stress on the building. Without innovative technology like this to adapt to the environment, repairs will continue to be quite expensive. According to CNN Money, the most expensive earthquake in US history occurred in California’s San Fernando Valley in 1994 causing approximately $44 billion in damages, most of them probably similar to the bridge pictured in the bottom right.
One consequence that may or may not be obvious for earthquakes is the effect it has on water sources in the area. According to the Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management for Jamaica, “The underground water system may also be disturbed by an earthquake, causing fluctuations in water pressure and stream volume, and the appearance or disappearance of springs.” Even without earthquakes, the Southern California area has enough issues with water levels due to droughts. This year, Governor Jerry Brown issues the state’s first water restrictions in order to try and preserve water and reduce the amount that farmers were using. California’s 2014 water year was the third driest in 119 years on record, and it was also the warmest year to date on record, according to the United States Geological Survey. The dry conditions that accompany droughts bring with them the threat of wildfires, which have increased in frequency and intensity in the last few decades in California.
Wildfires are extremely dangerous due to their rapid movement and spreading, as well as their difficulty to extinguish (especially with a water shortage). Earthquakes, droughts, wildfires, and other accompanying natural disasters have become more intense and, it seems, frequent in the last few decades, especially in California due to many variables that are still trying to be neutralized. California is facing a difficult task, having declared a Drought State of Emergency recently to try and combat nature’s ferocity. It will be interesting to see if these conservative ideas and techniques continue as temperatures are expected to rise, and how it will affect our climate in the next 50 years or so.
– Nathaniel Chadwick
Los Angeles has been burdened by the large city’s location ever since its rise in the early 1900s. Since Los Angeles is located in southern California it is in a Mediterranean climate which causes dry and arid climates. Since it’s located in a Mediterranean climate, Los Angeles doesn’t receive a lot of precipitation so for a century the city has been going through a drought but it has only been in the last couple of years that they are finally doing something about it and is becoming a public problem. Just recently the Governor of California has ordered a 25% cut in water consumption so hopefully that will help the state especially Los Angeles. Another problem that the city is facing being in a Mediterranean climate is the effects of wild fires. The vegetation around Mediterranean climates is normally oily shrubbery that with a small spark can ignite and spread throughout the perimeter. Another problem that Los Angeles faces is damage that earthquakes can cause. The city is parallel the San Andres fault line which although is more violent in Northern California can still have major effects on the southern city. If a large enough earthquake was to hit Los Angeles it would mean catastrophic disaster because the population is so compact within the city. Another problem that Los Angeles is facing that was not one of the pictures on the blog is the air pollution that hoovers over the city like a thick fog. The main reason for this is the fact that most people drive and their exhausts from their cars goes right into the atmosphere and the fact that cool air from the pacific is trapped by the Sierra Nevada’s so the smog is trapped above the city if they don’t come up with a solution for this or a decent public transportation system the city will see dramatic changes to its environment and climate. If a single area has this much natural disasters then why move there let alone build one of the largest cities in the country? The sunny beaches and perfect weather are not enough for me to want to live there, but more and more people migrate to sunny Los Angeles and don’t realize what could happen in such a short amount of time. Since Governor Jerry Brown made these water cut backs because of the drought it should be interesting to see the citizen’s reactions to the cut backs. It should be as hard as some people have said it would, there are plenty of ways that the U.S as a whole could cut back on our wasteful water consumption such as limiting the amount of times we flush our toilets and limiting the times we wash our hair. It would be hard to limit wild fires the only thing we can do is to educate so it doesn’t happen as often. If Los Angeles keeps growing at the rate it is it could mean severe problems when these natural occurrences happen.
Yes, the southwestern region of the United States is an inappropriate place for a massive human population, particularly one intent on expanses of green grass and luxurious swimming pools. The hot, dry Santa Ana winds can and did turn the use of a blow torch into the Ranchero Road bridge collapse, and the efforts of the USGS and Bureau of Labor Statistics make it clear that San Andreas Fault has the potential to cause catastrophic damage. However, pointing one finger at residents of Los Angeles points four back at ourselves and solves nothing. Agricultural demands are the most significant burden on California’s sources of fresh water, and these agricultural demands are not created solely by citizens of Los Angeles nor by the Sunshine State, but by people across the country and around the world.
You may feel that the fact that you eat almonds, walnuts, pistachios, strawberries, broccoli, grapes, tomatoes, and lettuce (and drink bottled water and wear designer jeans) doesn’t mean the drought is your fault. Perhaps you point your finger at the leaders of companies who choose to grow or bottle there. They in turn, may point their fingers back at you, the consumer, and then perhaps everyone would then point their fingers at the members of government…who would likely point right back at adults 18+ who have the right to vote. Self-interest is a powerful force. They want to get re-elected, and attracting/keeping businesses as well as minimizing taxation on voters are their best bets. Regardless of the individual’s right to vote, it is obvious that US corporations have a frighteningly excessive amount of political power and the drought in California is just another blazing example (pun intended) of this problem. Yes, massive concentrations of humans in the southwestern region this country are inappropriate, but they also aren’t going anywhere…just as New Yorkers and residents of Miami will not simply pack up and move in the face of rising sea levels. Perhaps a series of severe earthquakes with impacts such as those predicted by the USGS would send people packing, but in the years since Hurricane Katrina (which halved the residents) the population of New Orleans has not stayed down, it is over 90% what it was prior to that event, and continues to rise. “To err is human” and as we see around the world, it is human to live in inhospitable places…whether that is in and of itself an error is not my point here.
While the challenge of limiting the political influence of corporations may appear even more daunting than creating ecological balance in the region, it is, in my opinion, a cause more worthy of our effort. In the meantime, as we watch California struggle, we should ask ourselves what water we deserve. If we only deserve the water ‘where we live’ what is the radius or basin size we imagine, and who is supposed to enforce limits to match carrying capacity? Do citizens of Palm Springs, California deserve more water than citizens of Los Angeles, California? Or is each US citizen, or each PERSON on earth, deserving of equal access to fresh, safe water, regardless of their place of birth? A link above provides averages in gallons of water used per citizen for more than a dozen of California’s cities. It is the residents of Palm Springs, in Northern California, topping the list, and Los Angelinos aren’t in the top ten.
Over the past few years, the Los Angeles and its surrounding area has lost its appeal. With great year round temperatures, beaches, amenities, and attractions, it is no wonder why it has become one of the most influential, recognized, and visited cities in the United States. However, with the way things are going, Los Angeles may become a less popular destination. With recent drought severity at a record high, wildfires have been more prominent and harder to put out due to the lack of rain and high winds that are common in the Southern California region. Southern California is one lit cigarette way from been burned off the map.
Another issue the record drought is causing is the lack of drinking water. Unfortunately, the majority of the people living in Los Angeles are in a much higher tax bracket than the rest of America and may not feel like they should have to limit the amount of water they use. If things do not change weather wise, however, people will either be limited certain amounts of water per day for everyday needs or people will pack up and move if things get too bad. There have been some climatologists and other scientist who think that in 50 years, the Southwestern United States will be unlivable due to the lack of water. Which brings up another issue if that area of the country becomes unlivable. Where are all those people going to move? Granted it will not be a mad rush of several million people but cities will have to accommodate several million people overtime. That means an increase in housing which could potentially mean an increase in suburbanization in cities that are already sprawling faster than they can populate their city.
Lets not forget about the ever-looming threat that an earthquake will swallow the city of Los Angeles and its entire people. But as great as that sounds, the odds are not great. No matter how many documentaries are made about the San Andreas Fault and how many overpaid ignorant scientists say the end is near, the odds of a massive earthquake are low. Not as low as other parts of the United States but definitely low. But by God when the San Andreas Fault does finally decide to start talking, Los Angeles may not look the same afterwards.
So what is the conclusion? Well the city of Los Angeles has always been known for its great weather, beaches, Hollywood, expensive stuff, and tourism. However, it has been in a new spotlight with Severe Drought as its headline. Raging wildfires are becoming more and more prevalent and decimating areas of Southern California. Drinking water is becoming scarcer by the day and no relief is in site weather wise for the city of Los Angeles and the Southwest region of the United States. If the Southwest Region of the United States runs out of water and becomes unlivable, that could cause issues for other parts of the county.
Oh and also Los Angeles, the big earthquake is coming. The end is near.
The droughts in California have brought urgency to practicing sustainable water management techniques in a time where people commonly take the use of water for granted. However, there is only so much you can scrimp and save when water is scarce in that region to begin with, like southern California. So first of all, one of the most crucial aspects of city planning (fresh water source) was sacrificed for the climate and location of Los Angeles. Transporting water from one region to an entirely different region is not a good or sustainable solution but is widely accepted in the United States. In a country where the cultural norm is to consume without thinking of the consequences, it is taking extreme drought to finally motivate people to practice sustainable water management techniques. However, only the people affected by the drought care about reducing water waste. It’s truly a shame that it takes catastrophic events directly affecting people’s lives to get them to care.
As a society, we construct and destroy so much of our natural surroundings to the point of placing extreme strain and then stand dumbfounded when bad events occur as a result. LA area alone shows the severity of our actions. By concreting a river and draining almost all water of the area to the river, the groundwater supply has been severely depleted as well as the vast removal of wildlife habitat. Through vegetation and soil filtration, the original river would have helped with the drought issue but since it is a concrete basin, it is polluted from city runoff. Due to careless actions, people have also set thousands upon thousands of acres of land ablaze in California. This then requires the use of massive amounts of water to help put out the fires. Both the lack of water and the increase of fires amplify the instability of the already unstable ground causing more earthquakes. Everything we as humans do effects something else which then affects something else and so on and so forth. Yet we still haven’t learned this concept because we tend to continually repeat it.
It has taken the government finally getting involved in LA for steps to be taken to limit the amount of water used. Is that the only way people will wake up from this endless consuming mindset? Have we as a society come to that point of which we could care less that we are destroying the world around us? I asked my parents and some other adults if they would consider making the conscious effort to reduce the amount of water they use. They’re answer was, “No, why would I?” Most of the adults even said that they wouldn’t reduce their use of water until it was absolutely necessary. I’m not sure I understand how we have gotten to this point of only thinking of the present and never the future. We need to learn from Los Angeles and other cities in California and do our best to prevent these types of situations, rather than waiting for the same thing to happen in our own backyard.
California; ‘dream big’, ‘fuel your dreams’, The Golden State. Where it is considered to be one of the best places to live, – taking 20 spots on LivaBility’s “Top 100 Best Places to Live [2015 edition]”, – it is also one of the most expensive. With the cost of living index of 2014 at 127.1 it is the sixth most expensive state to live in in the United States. Though this is pretty common knowledge, and very easy to find given a quick Google search, what many don’t know, or realize, is the amount of money out towards the damage control of the state. Just ten years ago nearly $200,000,000 of damage was done during the (very common) floods and storms, and that was only in January! That doesn’t even come close to the amount of damaged caused the year before by the Northbridge Earthquake. This earthquake killed 72 people and created $42,000,000,000 worth of damage. Disasters of Biblical proportions (from storms and floods, to earthquakes, firestorms, and riot) not exactly travel brochure material. Where tourists get theme parks and road trips native Californians have begun to take these major cataclysms in stride, becoming virtually routine. The saddest part is it’s almost entirely avoidable! Wildfire, floodplain, and earthquake patterns have been studied for year. We were not forced into building view-lot suburbs in wildfire corridors, or industrial districts and housing tracts in floodplains. Due to market-driven urbanization Los Angeles has been able to transgress environmental common sense for generations; deliberately putting itself in harm’s way and passing the majority of the blame off on natural disasters. This self-destructive process has been written about and recorded as early as 1977. In Wesley Marx’s book Act of God, Acts of Man he writes, “[Southern California], often to its own surprise, has developed a style of urbanization that not only amplifies natural hazards but reactivates dormant hazards and creates hazards where none existed”, and this has continued. These types of disasters are so common in the California cultures that they have almost become characteristics of the state. Though these reoccurring disasters have caused major regional recession and large population influxes for years this has not stopped the flow of new money and people to the state. Instead of making more provisions and changes to the urban planning systems of California the cities are advertised as “the triumph of superengineers,” a victory over the barren desert lands. We see the ability to grow green lush lawn and a pool in every backyard as triumph over an un-nurturing land, but really what we have done is starved it of its natural beauty and charm.
So yes, California has become the most populated state with the biggest cites and sites, and sunshine for days, winning it its well-deserved spot on America’s top places to live, but at what cost? Its resources and land have been squandered and man made disasters have tortured what is left; all at the cost of ideal urban living.
Davis, Mike. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster. New York: Metropolitan, 1998. Print.
According to the BIG HISTORY documentary named “H2O,” there is a very simple reason why we as human beings like things that we prefer things that are shiny, from the jewelry we wear to the vehicles we drive. Something shiny in nature means one thing, water. As is the documentary says, “Water is the miracle molecule, and mankind has used its perfect properties to revolutionize or lives. It was our first superhighway, the lifeblood civilization, and gives us 90% of all the power we used by us today, water is the main source behind our driving force our civilization.”
For all of our history the development of a big urban society has depended on de availability of water and this hold true for central and southern California. During the early years of the 20th century, the Colorado River had a particularly wet 100 years leading to many over expecting it flow of the source of water for the LA, Phoenix, and LV areas. All these cities have attracted huge populations in the latter half of the 20th century due to their thriving industries and Mediterranean climate. Many of the people who have come to the American Sun Belt for the warmer climates, have dug pools, and planted grass lawns who do not really belong in desert climates. These areas now have populations of tens of millions and millions of acres of agricultural lands that depend of the Colorado River and its reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Due to these strains of this river, the Colorado River has been greatly reduced and now many people throughout the Southwest now face permanent water shortages.
As the article “Unprecedented Water Crisis in the American Southwest,” The water shortage is severe, authorities are reducing the output of Lake Powell and Mead by 750,000 acre feet, due to the fact that reduction is necessary since both lakes are only at about half capacity and are due to drop even lower due to the extended drought if something is not done. Many scientists believe that the drought is actually a prelude to a new drier area in which the flow of the river is permanently diminished due to climate change, as stated in the article, “ Several global-warming studies predict that that rising temperatures will reduce the river’s flow by up to 35 % by 2050.” All these numbers don’t state doom or gloom, these numbers state that there are going to be some difficult decisions for the people of the Southwest in the next 50 years that are going to affect us all. It is likely to turn into a catfight over water resources between these southern states who need it for not only agriculture but also their thriving cities. The battle lines are already being drawn between Arizona and California and they are likely to get more extensive, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem so far, and in the end it might just come down to a simple question for the people of these states, “Do we need water for cities or agriculture?”
Weaver, Frances. “The Unprecedented Water Crisis of the American Southwest.” The Unprecedented Water Crisis of the American Southwest. The Week, 01 Feb. 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.
Blog Post 4
The city of Los Angeles is a central spot to natural disasters ranging from earthquakes, forest fires to lack of water in a severe drought. Some of these problems arise from global warming and human influences and mass population growth with pollution, which in turn, effects weather and climate of Los Angeles. Earthquakes are a major problem here because of the location on the fault line of major plate tectonics.
The drought of Los Angeles is largely effected by the lack of rain fall and of fresh water resources in southern California. Los Angeles in located in a desert climate and the geography of the city creates a bubble of pollutants unable to spread. The air currents coming in to the coast push into the mountains causing the air to be trapped and smog to be a problem. This has effected the climate drastically, and contributed to the problem of water and fires. According to the Los Angeles Times the past three years have been the driest years in the history of the state of California. “What the region needs is prolonged, moderate rain that can replenish groundwater and local basins” says Joseph Serna for the Los Angeles Times “It may seem like a healthy dose of rainfall for L.A., but it’s not” (Feb. 23,2015). According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times there is a new push for the use of grey water to be used in multiple tasks, Matt Stevens and Shelby Grad say that with the drought continuing “faced with a worsening drought, there is a new push to allow Los Angeles residents to better harness leftover water from daily showers, dish washing and laundry” in “L.A. pushes to use shower, bathwater to combat drought”. Using grey water would only be allowed for underground purposes of watering plants and some agriculture products, which might actually help reduce the amounts of fertilizers. Grey water will not be used for consumption or for direct bodily contact.
Los Angeles is vulnerable to earthquakes due to location, but the effects can be devastating on a city with such a high population and density. Earthquakes can cause roads to break, buildings to crumble, power outages and even water systems to fail, which as discussed previously can lead to major problems. There are a lot of risks associated with the basic geography of Los Angeles, but the frequency, and the lack of predictability of earthquakes make for an increasingly unstable residency for the people of L.A..
The water crisis, forest fires, and earthquakes make for some issues that are causing both politicians and scientists to push for more information, research and creative problem solving. Understanding the geography of Los Angeles is essential in the solving of all of these problems, and the use of resources in a new efficient way will press for mass change and hopefully for a less pollutant city.