CRF Blog

‘Chinatown’ in real life

by Bill Hayes

In  ‘Chinatown’ in real life for the Los Angeles Times, Gary Polakovic looks at the state of California water 40 years after the classic movie Chinatown.

[S]cientists know that California and the Southwest have experienced mega-droughts, lasting for decades. Today, no one has a plan should such droughts recur. And yet recur they almost certainly will. UCLA researchers found that such “perfect droughts” coincide with periods of warming temperatures. And the climate models and data point to one consistent conclusion: The Southwest will be much warmer and drier in the near future. State officials expect the Sierra snowpack to diminish by 25% in 35 years.

Unless we stop playing make-believe, the words of the fictional L.A. politician in the opening scene of “Chinatown” will prove prescient: “We live next door to the ocean, but we also live on the edge of a desert. Los Angeles is a desert community; beneath this building, beneath every street there’s a desert, and without water, the dust will rise up and cover us as if this place never existed.” [more]