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Instead of an adult state with millions of acre-feet stored in new reservoirs, California is still an adolescent culture that thinks it has the right to live as if it were the age of the romantic 19th-century naturalist John Muir — amid a teeming 40-million-person 21st-century megalopolis.

The California disease is characteristic of comfortable postmodern societies that forget the sources of their original wealth. The state may have the most extensive reserves of gas and oil in the nation, the largest number of cars on the road — and the greatest resistance to drilling for fuel beneath its collective feet.

After last summer’s forest fires wiped out a billion board-feet of timber, we are still arguing over whether loggers will be allowed to salvage such precious lumber, or instead should let it rot to enhance beetle and woodpecker populations.

In 2014, nature yet again reminded California just how fragile — and often pretentious — a place it has become.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.