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Finished _A Great Aridness_ [book]

I think I mentioned that it took me a little while to warm up to this book. It's about climate history and climate change impacts on the Southwestern US Desert.

By now, though, I recommend it, especially for those who live in any place that's currently dependent on Colorado River water. It has way more up-to-date information about the water use history, water rights, and forecasts for what's likely to happen to the river and its tributaries in upcoming decades.

I appreciated its discussion about something called "demand hardening," as it relates to water use. This is going to come to roost hard for people living in Central Arizona, and it's something that some of the longtime locals seem to grasp better than a lot of the newcomers. The idea is this: if we routinely install and use water-saving appliances, irrigate with drip irrigation, take shorter showers, etc, when a drought comes along we no longer have as many ways to cut back on water use. And the sad reality is that if one person in Arizona tries to conserve water, it isn't like that freed-up water gets stored somewhere, or allowed to actually flow all the way down to the ocean. It gets used to allow more people to move to the desert.

So while it might seem utterly foolish to build a giant artificial lake in the middle of the desert, on the other hand that lake's a way to soak up water and buffer the region in the face of long-term drought and uncertainty.

I'm growing convinced that it's only going to be a matter of time before places in that part of the country start to see periods as in Cape Town. And then I have to wonder how long it will take before we see an uptick in climate refugees from that part of the US.

Interestingly, on the other hand, there are a lot of people living in the Desert Southwest who are highly aware of the fragility of their existence, strenghtening the push to make things more sustainable. It's still hard to say whether that will be enough, but I'm grateful there are strong voices expressing the region's history and advocating for its future.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1259574.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


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