Climate Central

Powerful Before and After GIFs Show How Bad the California Drought Really Is

The largest agriculture-producing state in the country continues its battle with the worst drought it's ever seen.

Conditions have gotten so bad that, on April 1, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown issued an executive order to prevent excessive or unnecessary water use. It's an attempt to curtail any further drought-amplifying moves from Californians, both at the company and residential level. 

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action," said Brown, according to the governor's press office. "Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible."

When NASA recently predicted that California would run out of water by 2016, it seemed far-fetched. After all, they were talking about a massive, near coast-spanning state known for its cornucopia of green land. But given the images below, the concerns about high water usage (and low inhibitions when it comes to keeping golf courses retirement-fantasy green) no longer warrant an eye-roll.

That isn't to say some good brainstorming hasn't happened, but there's a difference between getting water properly distributed around, say, Delaware, and getting it around the massively agriculture-driven, 163,696-square mile footprint of California. Brown's proposed $25 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan would build out new water delivery systems — in this case, aqueducts, already used by the California State Water Project as a means of getting water down to Southern California — while working to protect the ecosystems through which the existing aqueducts already run.

For those looking for a more radical solution, a Dutch agricultural engineering firm has the technology to turn massive farming operations into vertical plant factories capable of turning out more produce using a fraction of the resources. But given the sorry state of statewide hydration, one initiative or another needs to work quickly.

California's drought expansion in under a weekClimate Central

Last year, the California governor proclaimed a drought state of emergency. Unless you live on the West Coast, it's hard to let the significance of that sink in — until you see these terrifying examples of the Golden State living up to its name in all the wrong ways.

Enterprise Bridge over Lake Oroville, July 2011 and August 2014
Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville, July 2011 and August 2014Getty Images
Enterprise Bridge over Lake Oroville, July 2011 and August 2014
Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville, July 2011 and August 2014
The Green Bridge over Lake Oroville, July 2011 and August 2014Getty Images
Folsom Lake, July 2011 and August 2014
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images