The state of our affairs

Dear California,

Even if we manage to get out of our college education without completely annihilating our savings, our parents’ savings and our credit score, will we be capable of surviving the real world with growing climate change and without a sustainable supply of water?

We’d like to think so, but we have a lot of work to do.

Last week Governor Jerry Brown delivered his State of the State address, a helpful reminder to Californians that we’re in this together. Brown lauded California for accomplishments such as the passage of Proposition 30, the initiative to increase minimum wage the creation of “a million new jobs since 2010.”

So the sun is shining bright in California – but apparently it’s a little too bright, seeing as we’re in the middle of the worst drought in recorded history. Brown has officially declared a State of Emergency, meaning our first step as responsible citizens is to start conserving water in as many ways possible (hello, group showers!). 

This is absolutely critical, as anything could happen to our environment and our already low water supply. Take West Virginia, for example: environmental activist and film inspiration Erin Brockovich is assisting with an investigation of a chemical spill in Elk River that affected 300,000 people’s access to safe tap water.

The crisis serves as a scary reminder that we must prepare for the worst. As the top agricultural producer in the country with a population of 38.04 million – 20 times larger than West Virigina’s – the effects of an equivalent spill in California could be massively destructive.

Clearly, improving the chances and longevity of our survival tops the state’s priority list right now. We can fuel sustainability by cutting down on personal car usage – Brown reported that each year, motorists use more than 14 billion gallons of gasoline to travel over 330 billion miles (the sun, he added, is only 93 million miles away). Since it doesn’t appear that we’ll be enduring any disastrous wet weather anytime soon, enjoy the beautiful weather when you can and walk to more destinations. And who knows, maybe the looming construction of the bullet train will alleviate gas usage, but it’s not the right time (or budget, for that matter) to prioritize that.

What we should prioritize is – are you really going to make us say it? – education. We think the governor feels the same way, since he plans to increase the budgets of both K-12 and higher education while promising to repay K-12 budget deferrals from previous years. 

We are a little closer to finally revitalizing the nation’s conscious need for a worthwhile and effective public education system.

It’s no secret that our education system is significantly lagging compared to the rest of the world, specifically in math and science. A continuous reinvestment in all forms of education is key for sustainability in regard to our environment, our global competitive edge, our nation’s intelligence and, quite frankly, our sanity.

We’re glad the governor has made substantial progress in prioritizing education and the environment. Last week, borrowing from American philosopher George Santayana, Brown told California, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Clearly, he remembers the past few years and is attempting to reverse the damage as realistically as possible.

So now, California, it’s now up to us to show our governor – and the rest of the country – that we can spend our resources wisely to develop the healthiest, most conscientious and most educated human population possible. 

We finally have the chance to turn our state around; let’s take full advantage of it.