(composed to be the script to some stand-up act or Ted Talk or speech with beautiful scenes of California on the screen behind the speaker. It is intended as a tongue in-cheek piece, not necessarily to be taken seriously, people!)
Aahh, California with its perfect streets, perfect homes, and perfect weather. Workers there earn higher salaries than almost anywhere in the world. Most California days are sunny days; not too cold,
not too hot. To tell you the truth, I would enjoy living in California this very minute.
But maybe not the next.
These myths perpetuated by real estate salesmen and other con artists belie the reality that is life in California for most people. If you a privileged enough to live close to the Pacific, California can be a very healthy place to live. Fresh salt air, good food, sunny days, and generally friendly people make it a fun place to be. I lived outside Santa Cruz, up in a giant redwood forest. Silent as an empty cathedral up there. But relatively few people live up in those mountains. They live in very large communities found all over the state. I drove all over the place most of the time I was a resident of the Redwood State.
Most of the major population centers in California are adjacent or directly over major active fault lines in the Earth's surface. It is the nature of the Pacific Rim. In a sense not that much different than residents of Alaska, Russia, Japan, China, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Peru and central America face. Major earthquakes devastate some areas of the state every decade. So they rebuild and everyone that survived has a story to tell. Annual wildfires spread rapidly every year when the Santa Ana winds blow. Sometimes water table gets so low most natural foliage does not stand a chance of surviving. Volcanoes threaten the northern part of the state. This is also California.
It's a big place, Californians often shrug off state events that happen outside where they live. Too much to keep track of. Northern California and Southern are almost two different nations, culturally.
The price of everything in California including, but not limited to, housing, food, fuel, education, taxes, and clothing is typically much higher than in any other state. New York City is comparable, I suppose, but not so far as the cost of waterfront homes off Long Island are concerned.
Californians spend more time stuck in their cars in huge traffic jams, than the residents of any other state. The air quality in many parts of the state is abysmal at best. Taxes and government fees drain the pockets of the middle class faster than any other state. If you plan to move to California you should also plan to pay much more for the right to live there. Too many people neglect to consider the costs and end up moving back out of California or living in a barrio on welfare. Those few months or year or two will be memorable but moving back East is like giving up the garden of Eden. I eventually moved away to Puerto Rico so I didn't go through that trauma.
California is the source of much of the nation's food and entertainment. Hollywood movies and television programming perpetuate a national culture of violence, promiscuity, and blind consumption. But most people just watch these films and shows and go back to living the same way they always have. Comfortably numb. A few movies are actually pretty interesting.
The West Coast is almost Biblical in proportion to other places. Plagues of insects and disease are kept at bay by farmers only through the use of cancerous pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. There are plenty of organic farms but commercial farming still deposits incredible amounts of poison on the land. The poisons are better designed but not the best way to grow food for consumption. They have no other choice, to meet demand every technique from genetic modification to cloning to DNA modifications are apparently on the table. I think two of those are essentially the same thing but it seems a shame to throw away millennia of farming with seeds from the plants themselves. Only to substitute some Frankenberry, to get that much more out of an acre. Rice, corn, wheat and just about any berry important to all humans are in the lab, getting modifications done under the hood, like a Detroit-build hot rod.
A prized genetic modification for most plants is to make them more drought-resistant. A drought resistant variety of rice could prevent millions from starving, in the event of a long dry season. Drought-resistant corn might make the difference between a farmer going bust and a farmer getting by with little rain some weeks.
I don't know the answer, I just know the prior ecosystem had a very long track record of supporting human civilizations. Natural disasters will always happen, anywhere. It just seems that all of them, except hurricanes, are common in California. The 2017 "rivers in the sky" rain events certainly mimicked a hurricane's rains, but not the wind.
The fresh water supply for California's citizens and farmers could be doomed by declining snow packs in Colorado and the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. 2017 snowpack broke some records, California's is becoming a feast or famine rainfall record. The agriculture industry dries up just like the state's lakes and rivers, then an El Nino event roars in to fill the the deserts a little too quickly.
he food production chain is also dependent on gasoline and other fuels, transportation is a significant part of the price we pay to have food shipped across the country. Many farmers have switched to natural gas on farm equipment. Food still is affordable, but wouldn't it be better for the environment to consume food that didn't need to be trucked 3,000 miles?
Certain parts of California do not exactly reflect ideal living. Watts and Compton are hardly ideal places to live. San Diego, major Navy Base, is also the capital of pornographic film production. Of course, like all of California, there's a huge mix of different businesses in the San Diego area.
The extreme concentration of wealth and greed in places like Cupertino, Malibu, or Wiltshire Boulevard concentrates wealth and the fear of losing it all, behind locked iron gates. There are more illegal aliens living in California than any other state. A massive church in Orange County helps people justify their gross over-consumption of natural resources while people in the Sahel or central Asia cook scraps collected from dumps over dung-fueled fires.
California is not paradise. California is not heaven on earth. California is an extremely overcrowded place known to burn, shake violently, and empty your wallet faster than a clever pickpocket. When the next major fire or earthquake devastates some part of California, the people living there will cry out to their idols and ask "Why?" Yet the answer is always right there in front of every resident of California. A beautiful place to visit but a very dangerous and expensive place to live, that is California.
Note: The author once lived in California but the earthquakes, smog, traffic, taxes, and crowds drove him away.