In 2019, Mark Arax published the definitive work on the story of water in California, The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California. He has recently published what might be seen as a distillation of this magnificent book in an article for the MIT Technology Review. As a distillation, the most essential themes from the book are covered in the article, along with some new details, perspectives, and insights. For those who have read the book, this will reinforce and expand what you already know. For those of you who have not, you have the crib notes that will hopefully inspire you to read the entire book. The link to the MIT Technology Review article is here.
The story of David “Mas” Masumoto and his raisin harvest in this article alone is worth the read. That a seedless Thompson (raisin grape) grower would still have product on the ground in the middle of October at the end of a hot and dry summer can be added to the mountain of evidence showing nature’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Arax concludes: “How much time do we have?”
A quick side note on Arax. He recently led a successful campaign in Fresno to rename Forkner Elementary School after a renowned international journalist who had a profound legacy shaping the journalism school at Fresno State, Roger Tatarian. J. C. Forkner developed some of the wealthier areas of Fresno and did so by employing racial exclusion clauses in his association agreements. Arax calls Forkner Fresno’s “most consequential racist.” Details of the story are here. We live in a society that too readily celebrates rich individuals rather than the wealth derived from contributions not often measured in monetary terms. Let’s celebrate this instance in which a journalist has supplanted a real estate mogul! Let’s tip our hat to Arax for his willingness to interrupt his busy life and actually win a quixotic battle!