California has been dealing with record levels of drought, so much so that it has begun to cause public health problems in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions. A lack of rain has resulted in the accumulation of fine particle matter near the surface, resulting in increasing reports of breathing problems, particularly for those afflicted with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
The Los Angeles Times reports that public health officials have advised residents not to burn wood fires, and conditions have gotten so bad in some areas that schools have had to cancel sporting events in order to prevent athletes from becoming ill.
Typically, pollution conditions improve in the winter when precipitation effectively washes particles from the air. Doctors will usually see a decrease in the number of patients reporting allergy problems as a result. However, these specialists have seen no such drop in the number of cases walking through their doors.
In the San Joaquin Valley, the average concentration of particles in the air has been around 35 micrograms per cubic meter, about three times as high as federal air standards recommend. Furthermore, weather forecasters aren't predicting any rainstorms will reach the state by the end of the month.
Crises such as the drought in California are a reminder that climate change isn't a problem that we'll have to deal with in the future. In fact, it's a very real threat that is already having dire consequences for the region which will only be exacerbated as we continue to adjust to the situation too slowly. Hopefully, policymakers will see these problems and begin to act with more expediency to switch to green technology for energy production and reduce carbon emissions.