The new land was nothing like the old one. To some, California is a utopia where the sun shines 280 days a year, and it rarely rains. Humans have inhabited the region for at least 150 centuries, and each generation has left its mark. Still, it's hard not to notice the accelerated pace of human-made alterations of the past 175 years. In this deeply personal essay, Mark Arax, the author of "The dreamt land: chasing water and dust across California", looks back at the region's geographical history and discusses the cumulative effects of human activities for altering the substance of the once diverse natural landscape.