I Made Good

A couple months ago I finally did something I’d been meaning to do for a while: subscribe to Good magazine. And when my first issue arrived titled “The Water Issue,” I dove into it, eating it up like the delectable treat it was.

One of the articles headlined “Disobey Your Thirst” featured an interview with outspoken  water policy expert Robert Glennon and right off the bat he takes swings at Los Angeles — appropriately for our weak conservation efforts and inappropriately as a “desert.”

It’s a pet peeve of mine whenever my hometown gets refered to so incorrectly as such. So of course I wrote the good editors at Good a letter why from a meteorological perspective, and with the arrival of my second issue last night found that they saw fit to print it:

Robert Glennon’s all wet. Calling Los Angeles a desert, as he did in “Disobey Your Thirst,” is the lazy perpetuation of a fallacy. Certainly there are vast areas of the less-populated northern section of Los Angeles County that are desert, but the coastal plain — and thus the greater Los Angeles basin — is not, and for exactly the reason he sites: the rainfall. Sure, in a bad year such as this one the city of Los Angeles will get 15 inches or less, but given its general Mediterranean climate that’s still far too much for it to qualify as desert. I agree with him that Los Angeles needs to impose greater water conservation restrictions, but before Glennon labels us as that “community in denial” he ought first pull his own head out of the sand and get L.A.’s geography straight.

Will Campbell
Los Angeles

The origins of  the myth of Los Angeles as being willfully built Cairo-like upon a desert biome can be traced back to Los Angeles Times Publisher Harrison Gray Otis in the early 1900s who widely publicized the falsehood in order to drive support for the Owens Valley aqueduct bonds. It’s a misconception that’s stuck ever since.

Sure, one might argue that Los Angeles would be destroyed if we quit importing the majority of our water from distant sources, yet the same could be said for San Francisco and New York, both of which import water great distances to quench their respective thirsts… or are those metropolii built on deserts, too?

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Will

Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."