Thesis Title

Unprecedented Uncertainty, The Story of a Boy and Santa Barbara's Drought

Department or Program

Environmental Studies


Living in an age of seemingly unprecedented natural disasters, it is important that communities have stories of disaster experiences. In the last thirty years, the number of deaths because of natural disasters has tripled. But it’s not the magnitude of damage that arises from disasters that is most imperative; it’s the revelations that come from the disasters that are truly important for the development of the damaged communities. Thus, narratives are an important medium by which people can gain meaning because of the inherent clarity that is drawn through the personal experiences of the storyteller. Narratives can uniquely be used as a magnifying glass to bring to light previous unacknowledged inefficiencies and tendencies about the environment, economy, politics, and society. The revelations are the instruments by which individuals can forge new understandings to successfully cope with current and future disasters and progress to a better community. Most importantly, the revelations found through narratives can provide policy makers with new perspectives towards addressing previously unacknowledged inefficiencies within the local structures.

The current drought in Santa Barbara should not be perceived as part of natural climate discourse, but as a hazard of nature that needs to be handled with urgency. Droughts naturally expose the vulnerabilities of the community’s structures through changing the regions environmental features. But what is sometimes most challenging about the way in which droughts change regions is that the changes are subtle through the day-to-day perspective, but massive over the duration of the drought. These chronic conditions have made it difficult to mobilize social and political change, to deal with the drought because of the sub communities and political figures that are unaware or unconsciously disregarding the magnitude of the region’s environmental changes.

The various mediums within my portfolio are poetry, main piece narrative, two blog posts, and epilogue. Presently, each medium is tailored to effectively resonate with local water policy makers, so that they will be able to use the portfolio as a tool in the policy decision-making process.

Level of Access

Restricted: Archival Copy [No Access]

First Advisor

Misty Beck

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Number of Pages


Archival Copy

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