BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX, IT’LL BE DRYIN’ UP

1 02 2008

That radical rag, the National Geographic, reports that our massive development of the desert southwest was based on the false idea that the wettest time in the history of the region was typical.  When it dried out in the 1200’s, the Anasazi just gave up and went elsewhere.  What are we gonna do?

 In fact, the tree rings testified that in the centuries before Europeans settled the Southwest, the Colorado basin repeatedly experienced droughts more severe and protracted than any since then. During one 13-year megadrought in the 12th century, the flow in the river averaged around 12 million acre-feet, 80 percent of the average flow during the 20th century and considerably less than is taken out of it for human use today. Such a flow today would mean serious shortages, and serious water wars. “The Colorado River at 12 million acre-feet would be real ugly,” says one water manager.

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