California's New Class Warfare: Drought Shaming

Snitching on water wasters goes viral as green lawns separate haves, have-nots
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2015 8:00 AM CDT
California's New Class Warfare: Drought Shaming
Martha Mattison, left, helps out her son Jacob, 14, with his dog walking business as they walk past recently installed synthetic grass, seen at right, in Garden Grove, Calif., Wednesday, May 6, 2015.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

As California enters its fourth year of drought, with fines that the Los Angeles Times reports could range up to $10,000 for water wasting, citizens are taking to social media to not only rat on their neighbors but call out the state's wealthiest, some of whose magnificently manicured lawns are still green while everyone else looks at various shades of brown. Targets include Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, whose lush lawns stand out from above; Beverly Hills residents, who keep filling their pools; Walmart, which gets its bottled water from the state and profits from it; and hotels accused of "water misting" their guests, reports the Guardian.

Whether #droughtshaming will actually effect change remains to be seen, but when the city of Montecito made its water usage data public, exposing people like Oprah Winfrey for wasting, overall water usage dropped 48%, reports Gizmodo. And when the hashtag first took off last summer, eco-minded vigilantes took to the streets, helping municipalities issue fines and even posting pictures and videos with people's street addresses. "The class differences are very real," an environmental historian tells the Guardian. "The correlation with wealthier people here is very simple: They have bigger yards." (Tree ring analyses suggest this drought is the worst in California in 1,200 years.)

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