Is staggering population growth and intensifying effects of climate change driving the oasis-based society of the American Southwest close to the brink of a Dust-Bowl-scale catastrophe?
Today is International World Water Day. Held annually on 22 March, it focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
We sat down with William deBuys, author of A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest, to discuss what lies ahead for Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. This semi-arid land, vulnerable to water shortages, rising temperatures, wildfires, and a host of other environmental challenges, is poised to bear the heaviest consequences of global environmental change in the United States. It is also a window to the world, from the dangers of water shortages in already fragile political regions to hopes in human intelligence and ingenuity.
William deBuys is the author of six books, including A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest; River of Traps: A New Mexico Mountain Life, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction in 1991; Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range; The Walk (an excerpt of which won a Pushcart Prize in 2008), and Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California. An active conservationist, deBuys has helped protect more than 150,000 acres in New Mexico, Arizona, and North Carolina. He lives and writes on a small farm in northern New Mexico.