Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Chinatown's 40th anniversary is the Golden State's hottest year on record

They love the Jack Nicholson film Chinatown in Owens Valley.
They love the Jack Nicholson film Chinatown in Owens Valley.

Friday's news isn't going to sugarcoat it: we've got good news for people who like bad news.

  • "Exceptional" drought conditions are spreading in California — up to a third of the state from a quarter of it a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. (LA Times)
  • And California is enduring its hottest year on record, contributing to the state's worst level of drought in the past 40 years. (USA Today)
  • Yeah, words sort of stop working to describe it: check out these satellite images of California drying out. (Discover Magazine)

Summer starts tomorrow. June is when drought news stops being about the hope of rainfall, and becomes about the fear of wildfire.

  • The director of CalFire has suspended open burns on 31 million acres of state land. That means residential burn permits, forest management, hazard abatement, and other industrial-type permitted burning. (Lake County News)
  • And it's the 40th anniversary of "Chinatown!" An op-ed written by Gary Polakovic argues that our view of water in the west is fantasy — and gives you a great reason to remember these opening lines:
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. (LA Times)

Besides inspiring films about water politics, how has your community been affected by the drought? Share your story with a photo on Twitter or Instagram. Tag it #mydrought. For more details on our photo project, click here.

Chinatown trailer


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