The hand of man created the reservoir of Lake Powell. The same hand is causing his drying.
Powell, located between Arizona and Utah, has a length of 300 kilometers and is the second largest swamp in the United States. It was built to take advantage of the Colorado River’s course from the construction of Glen Canyon Dam.
Edward Abbey—the author, adventurer, soldier, ranger and environmental activist who died in 1989—may have been dying of laughter in later life. In 1975 he published his novel monkey wrench gang , the pincer band , in the Spanish version), where its four protagonists dispense justice in defense of the ecosystem. So they set out to blow up the most heinous assault on nature: the concrete pillar that drowned the wonder of Glen Canyon.
Wildlife lover Abhay must be laughing. Demolition is taking place. But credit must be given to the human battalions that feed the climate change bomb, fueling the destruction of the environment for the extreme progress they deplore.
“The biggest environmental mistake our country has made,” the abbey said of that pharaonic act. He called it rape. “To understand the nature of this crime, imagine the Taj Mahal or Chartres Cathedral being buried in soil until only the minarets are visible.”
The purpose of the dam was to generate electricity. It was also to be a warehouse that would allow it to handle the increase in Colorado’s flow. Ranchers, farmers and a vast American Southwest would have a guaranteed water supply. Glenn Embankment and Lake Powell, along with their downstream neighbors Hoover Dam and Mead Swamp (the largest in the country), would provide stability.
The megadrought, the driest period recorded in that region in 1,200 years, as confirmed by a recent study, has left Powell at the lowest level in its history since it was launched in 1963. It is practically not supplied with water and its electricity production is under threat.
The Pavel Mega Reservoir, inaugurated in 1963, does not supply water and its power generation is under threat
A visit to the place in 2011 springs to mind. In addition to the initial uses, a powerful tourism industry was developed in that artificial lake, worth $500 million a year. Recreational boating also leads to shipwrecks. Many boarding ramps are in unusable, dry land.
“Some 40,000 hectares have been exposed. The water level is now about 30 meters below the 2011 level,” says Eric Balkan, executive director of the Glen Canyon Institute, a non-profit organization founded in 1996 that seeks to return the area to its natural state or nearly so.
“We do not advocate destroying the dam, it is precisely as backup infrastructure that Colorado has caused the biblical floods over the past thousand years, that the opportunity be taken to restore the canyon, without removing these installations. should,” he added.
this new normal desiccation It reveals the lost Eden, with its hoops or its bridges, “a piece of the original paradise”, wrote Abbey.
“What is happening in Lake Powell and Lake Mead really underscores how severe this drought is. Both reservoirs, the main source of water supplies for many states, have experienced record declines and are facing supply cuts. is forcing,” said researcher Benjamin Cooke of the NASA Goddard Institute, affiliated with Columbia University in New York.
Cook is one of the co-authors of the study that determined that the Southwestern United States is in the midst of its worst drought in twelve centuries. It is actually a return to the past in the 9th century.
The condition was compounded by a drought that began in 2000 and has been the driest period in 1,200 years. This circumstance has reduced water supplies, devastated farmers and ranchers, and contributed to the spread of the fire. Nothing like it since the 800s. All that information was in tree rings, which record “data” from 500, 1,000 or more years ago. “It gives us a very long baseline to understand how drought variability is in that region,” Cook commented.
The Yo-Yo Effect: Even if it rains, they are not enough to fill everything that has dried up.
Tree rings give a measure of growth, being wider in wet years and thinner in dry ones. This measurement allows to determine the current flow, the humidity of the earth or the rainfall.
These scales suggest it is heading towards the driest 30-year record. In previous work, they established that the period from 2000 to 2018 was the second largest drought since 1500. However, that count has gone up because last summer was the driest in three centuries. equivalent to 2002, at the start of the current dry cycle.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, also states that this is the longest phase and the most widespread or widespread in which human-caused global warming plays a determining role. Cook says the computers allow them to simulate what this drought would have been like without the contribution of humans.
From there they determine that this period, without climate change, would have been a very dry period due to “old general bad luck”. But the experiment allowed them to conclude that this time it is 40% more severe due to human contribution.
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“Without this collaboration there would be no record,” he qualifies. During the week following the publication of the report, rain and snow have also occurred in areas of the country affected by the event. Cook indicates that periods of megadrought may have wet alternatives, a yo-yo effect, although the parameters have not been revised.
“These rains do not end the drought. It is so deep that you need a lot of water to recover and therefore it is unlikely that the drought will end in 2022”, he stressed. “Studies indicate shows that we need to have more realistic expectations about how much water is available in the region,” he says.
There will be wet years, but fewer and fewer. The idea is meant to rethink the way agricultural production is developed, which consumes 70 to 80% of water. And this, Cook insists, amounts to struggle.
From Lake Powell, the second largest in the country, rises the Eden of Glen Canyon that buried the waters
Against this doomsday backdrop, the tourism industry at Lake Powell is heading for a reorganization that, if nothing else, the Balkans accept for some satisfaction.
“We try not to be myopic. Climate change creates challenges and a change can happen, new opportunities arise, there are already people who come to see what has come to light”, he commented. Remember that what is happening should come as no surprise to anyone, as scientists Tim Barnett and David Pierce warned in a 2009 report that something like this would happen because of the Colorado’s declining flow. He received the disqualification of the lunatic.
“There are many sad stories about climate change – he reflects – fatalism, the disappearance of ice caps, desertification, but some good has appeared here. The myth of Lake Powell miracle.