[This is a response to the California Dreams project at the Institute for the Future.
California Dreams asks you to imagine the future. Will California keep growing, start conserving, reinvent itself, or collapse? Put yourself in the future of one of these paths. Show us what a day in your life looks like and how you are living in this new world.
Why do we care? Because California is in crisis. Because pioneers with brilliant ideas live here. Because dreaming the future can change the future.
Good luck, and may those who dream most vibrantly win. In the end, we all win if we plant a seed for the new California dream.
- Send us your vision by January 31, 2011. The earlier you enter, the more time you have to gather votes for your dream.Enter here.
- Vote for your favorite dream. Do you think it’s more likely that games will take over education, fast food will be taxed, or police will be privatized? Which dream do you like best? Make your voice heard - cast your vote.
- We’ll help you build a better California. Up to 5 winners will be flown to the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California in March, to present their dreams and connect to mentors and resources. One of these dreams will also win the $3,000 Roy Amara Prize for Participatory Foresight.
I bet they want something positive and uplifting, but I don’t think that is the near future for California.]
The California Territory: 2011-2020
The California economic crisis of 2011 led to a near cessation of public services in 2012-2015, as in nearly 20 other states of the US. Inability to maintain public services — police, highway, transportation, education, courts, welfare — led to the US intervention in California and 16 other states through the creation of the Territorial Services Agency of the US Interior department by President Biden in 2015. California was the most populous state to be put under Supreme Court ordered receivership by Chief Justice Barack Obama. (The legality of revoking the states’ statehood, and returning them to the status of “incorporated but unorganized” territories was questionable, but formed the pretext of direct federal control.)
The violent weather of the ’10s was especially devastating to southern and mountainous areas of California, based on strengthening of El Niño and global climate changes. A drastic increase of typhoon-like storms led to widespread and enormous mudslides (like the ones that buried Glendale and Santa Barbara in 2015), and an increase in summer temperatures by 4º-5ºC led to growing severity of wildfires, culminating in the near destruction of San Diego in 2018 by the Tijuana Fire. The growing heat, erratic summer rainfall, and decreased snowpack of the Cascades led to drought conditions in California for most of the ’10s, contributing to the Bee Famine of 2016.
Because of the economic collapse, federal takeover, drought, and violent weather, over 60% of the population of California emigrated between 2011 and 2020, the great majority of which were resettled in the former ‘Rust Belt’ area of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania and the territory of Haiti as part of the 2017 Resettlement Act, where the government invested heavily in permatechnology and the ‘Foodshed’ agriculture initiative following the Bee Famine of 2016. The Bee Famine was partly caused by the California, Russian, Asian, and South American droughts, but mostly by the total die-off of domestic bees in 2016.
By 2020, California had a population of 14 million, mostly in the northern half of the territory. South California had transformed from a coastal savannah, with the new California Desert reaching past Santa Barbara on the Pacific, and to the foothills of the Cascades. The Foodshed movement had led the country away from the industrial agriculture that typified California’s central valley in the 20th century, with only wine, olives and fruit remaining as major food exports, and all of that located in the northern parts of the territory.
There is a plan to begin the return to statehood in some of the former states of the union, but California’s situation is still too shaky to proceed today, in 2020. President Michelle Obama has publicly stated that California could be on the path back to statehood in the next few years, so long as the turnaround continues, and the territory continues to assume control of public services.
See submission here.