There are plenty of things our presumptive Republican nominee doesn't appear to believe in: climate change, gun control, a woman's right to choose, losing, and now, apparently, the drought. Donald Trump told Californians "there is no drought" while speaking at a campaign event in Fresno on May 27.
That's certainly news to me. I've lived in California for almost my entire life and spent much of last year — one of the driest years in California's history — showering in frigid water, flushing every other time, picnicking on brown grass, and watching the waterline around my favorite lake recede.
But you don't have to take my word on the matter. There's plenty of scientific data pointing to the fact that California is indeed in a drought. While 2015 was one of the state's driest years in history thanks to record low snow and rainfall, it also heralded the state's driest four-year period ever on record. California had never seen a rainfall shortage as severe or as prolonged as the one the state experienced from 2012 to 2015. Despite slight improvements in rainfall numbers this winter, the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal drought watchdog of sorts, reported much of California remains in a "severe" to "exceptional" drought. Officially, 86 percent of the state is still in a drought.
But Trump, who has also said global warming was concocted by the Chinese in "order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," isn't convinced California's drought is weather related. While speaking in Fresno, an area of California home to over one million acres of farmland, the presumptive Republican nominee denied the existence of a drought. Trump went even further by implying state officials were mismanaging water policies by denying water to farmers in California's Central Valley in favor of pumping that water out to sea to save the Delta Smelt, a fish native to the state that is currently on the verge of extinction.
"We're going to solve your water problem," Trump said. "You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they're taking the water and shoving it out to sea... Nobody understands it... They're trying to protect a certain three-inch fish."
The real estate mogul also claimed there was "plenty of water" in California and claimed he would be able to put an end to the state's five-year drought as president. "If I win, believe me, we're going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive so that your job market will get better," he said.
California farmers have been at odds with environmentalists and state officials over water restrictions imposed in June 2015 (those restrictions were recently lifted by California's governor) and efforts to divert water from agriculture use in the San Joaquin Valley to the delta; these efforts set out to protect the smelt from the salt of the Pacific Ocean. It's a complicated and controversial issue of attempting to balance environmental concerns with water needs amidst a severe drought.
Trump provided no further details for how exactly he'd solve California's drought problem but touted himself a champion crusader for environmentalism. However, his concern for the environment is dubious. In January, Trump told Fox & Friends that climate change was "a hoax" and more recently he appointed Rep. Kevin Cramer, a known climate change denier and drilling advocate, to serve as his energy advisor. Trump has also recently said he'd "cancel" the landmark Paris climate accord, in which more than 195 countries pledged to reduce carbon emissions last year.
Trump's denial of California's drought is another example of the presidential candidate's tendency to talk about a critical issue before gaining a thorough understanding of it. His belief that it's as easy as "opening up the water" proves he lacks even a basic understanding of federal power and the government's fundamental functions. Water is a huge issue to us here in California and it's downright insulting to have someone come in and claim all our problems would be solved if we'd just let the water run freely. I mean, why hadn't we thought of that?