California is suffering through its worst drought in 1,200 years, according to U.S. scientists — though you'd never know it by looking at Kim Kardashian's lush, green estate.

Likewise for the well-watered lawns and sparkling pools of any other celebrity, establishment, or very rich individual being "drought shamed" on Twitter right now.

Tensions have been running high between wealthy Californians and those in lower-income neighbourhoods since the drought took hold four years ago, steadily increasing as income disparity becomes more and more visible by the colour of an area's grass.

"In Los Angeles, one of the most unequal cities in America, while lawns in poorer parts of town have mostly gone brown … lawns in hyper-wealthy places like Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Pacific Palisades are still reportedly overwhelmingly green," wrote the Guardian.

Last year officials started encouraging citizens to report neighbours for hosing down sidewalks or excessive lawn watering, but the threat of a $500 fine didn't seem to deter the wealthy from turning on their sprinklers.  

In April, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed raising the fine for being a "water waster" to $10,000, just weeks after implementing rationing measures to cut water use by 25 per cent.

Residents still have doubts, however, that even such a hefty fine could stop wealthy water wasters from doing as they please.

So they're taking action against the problem themselves.

Thousands of people have used the #droughtshaming hashtag in recent weeks to shine a spotlight on properties that appear to be generously watered.

Many online are using aerial photos published by the New York Post in a piece called "Here's What Celebrities' Lawns Look Like During California's Drought" to criticize such stars as Jennifer Lopez, Barbara Streisand, Jennifer Anniston, Cher and Hugh Hefner.

As the L.A. Times notes, the practice of drought shaming is not entirely new. 

The hashtag didn't blow up worldwide, however, until this week as corporations and celebrities got pulled into the conversation (joining already controversial products like almond milk and bottled water.)

And with more than 93 per cent of the state now experiencing "severe" to "exceptional" drought, the attention being paid to drought shaming has prompted Californians to start calling out their neighbours publicly more than ever before.

Whether these social media posts will affect California's water shortage remains to be seen, but as is often the case when a trend involves "shaming," some online are now wondering what harm the hashtag may cause.

"When we are in crisis, everyone blames everyone else," said UCLA environmental historian Jon Christensen to the Guardian, warning that "a culture of blame and shame" would not be "conducive to providing creative solutions in resolving the problem of living harmoniously through the drought."

Christensen does see a difference, however, between name-and-shame internet trends of the past and this most recent spate of drought shaming (which the Guardian refers to as "tech-savvy snitching for the opulence-sick and environmentally conscious").

"What is new is the class warfare that has now come into it," he said. "There is a lot of focus on the fact that the rich and famous use more water than others."  

"The class differences are very real," he said. "The correlation with wealthier people here is very simple: they have bigger yards."