For more than a century, California was widely recognized as the state where people flocked to if they wanted a better life. With its 164,000 square miles of coastline, mountains and farmlands that all shimmered with the dreams and ambitions of beauty and money, California were able to emerge as the definitive symbol of possibility. The land of golden opportunity successfully played host to Hollywood, the Silicon Valley, huge vineyards and agricultural projects, as well as cutting-edge aerospace technology (Nagourney et al., 1). In recent years, however, a punishing drought has forced the golden state to implement a series of measures designed to force people to drastically reduce their water consumption. The impact of the massive drought in California has triggered a debate as to whether the ambition of unimpeded growth that has for decades been California’s main driving engine has finally run against the set limits of nature. This paper will seek to show that despite the current drought in California, the state is still able to maintain its identity as the land of golden opportunity.
Since April 2015 when California Governor Jerry Brown moved to mandated statewide water cuts as he stood on top of the now snowless Sierras, the media and the public have been embroiled in a frenzy over the rapidly reducing water supply in the state. Starting from the 19th century, Californian’s have been constantly working to develop and expand in a region that is, for the most part, expansive desert land (Goldklang and Hamilton, 1). Historically, the state of California is seen to have survived a large number of catastrophes and emerged stronger after challenges such as an energy crisis, earthquakes and a budgetary collapse that forced the state government to ensure several forced years of devastating cuts in spending. Based on this strong historical background of overcoming challenges, it can be expected that California will be able to successfully surmount the challenges that have resulted from the drought and maintain its title as the land of golden opportunity. Today, the state budget of California is in surplus, its economy is thriving, the population is rapidly growing and development projects are exploding across the state from San Diego to the Silicon Valley despite the punishing drought (Nagourney et al., 1).
California’s determination to maintain its title as the land of golden opportunity is evidenced by the fact that despite its having been forced to preserve through several years of drought, the state is seen to still remain as the largest agricultural producer in the United States based on exports and outputs. During the drought, the agricultural sector in California is noted to have experienced record-high employment levels in addition to also generating record crop revenue. According to Cooley et al., (2015), the crop revenues in California were able to peak at the height of the drought in 2013 and generate the highest levels of revenue in the states’ history when they generated revenues amounting to $34 billion. At the same time, the statewide agriculture-related jobs in 2014 were also able to reach a record-high of 417,000 employees and workers. The continued success of California’s agricultural sectors can be perceived to be a testament to the sector’s ability to withstand the reducing supply of water.
As California’s prolonged drought continues to rapidly dry up agricultural irrigation supplies in addition to forcing a series of cutbacks in the supply of water to urban areas, of note is that the drought has had the advantage of creating opportunities for miners and prospectors who are now increasingly chiseling, panning, sluicing and diving for gold. Across the Mother Lode, increasing number of gold miners are now venturing into waterways that were previously too deep to harvest flecks of gold from the sentiment and pea gravel that was deposited in the long inaccessible crevices (Hecht, 1). In addition to this, the rapidly reducing flow of water is also noted to be leaving large amounts of gold residue that are now appearing similarly to gilded bathtub rings along the cobbled banks of most of the streams and rivers in the state. Although the price of gold has reduced from a high of $1,900 an ounce in 2011 to the current price of $1,200 an ounce, gold miners in the state are noted to still be making a small fortune from their mining operations.
The state of California has been grappling with a prolonged drought that has triggered a debate as to whether the ambition of unimpeded growth that has for decades been California’s main driving engine has finally run against the set limits of nature. However, despite the effects of the drought, California is seen to still be able to maintain its position as the largest agricultural produce in the United States and was even able to register record-breaking agricultural revenues amounting to over $34 billion in 2013. In addition to this, the resilience of California’s agricultural sector in the face of drought is aptly demonstrated by its being able to employ record numbers of employees totaling to over 417,000 employees and workers in 2014. The drought has also brought about an unexpected windfall for gold prospectors and miners who are now able to venture and mine for gold in waterways that were previously too deep to harvest. It is these factors coupled with California’s thriving economy and state budget surplus that are seen to lend credence to the argument that California is still the land of golden opportunity.