The Colorado River is in trouble, folks. And by “trouble,” we mean it’s slowly dying and turning into a trickle of its former self. As the planet warms, the river is suffering from low snow levels and higher temperatures that are causing evaporation to steal even more of its precious water. It’s so bad that the seven states relying on the river are using every last drop they can get their desperate hands on.
This all begs the question: why did our species even migrate to this pitilessly dry place? Did we really believe that money, engineering, and frontier pluck could sustain civilization here? Newsflash: nope!
The Grand Canyon knows about nature’s cycles all too well – birth, growth, destruction – you know how it goes. Back in the day (and we’re talking eras ago), this place was a tropical sea filled with tentacled snaillike creatures just doing their thing under those rippling waves. But as energy from deep inside Earth thrust upward in massive sections of crust colliding with ancient rivers below (talk about drama), a 280-mile long chasm was cleaved open over time.
And then came man-made environmental devastation! Cue dramatic music.
In 1963 came Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell became America’s second-largest reservoir shortly after; engineers evaluating water and electricity needs deciding when to let through dam works first into Lake Mead before releasing into fields & homes across various American states & Mexico leaving dwindling supplies as droughts hit hard depriving many millions potentially facing compromised ecological costs escalating further-until eventually ceasing generation means releasing only via four remaining pipes absorbing increasing weakening pressure reduced discharges plunging levels in non-renewal modes including “dead pool” status becoming our freshest H2O coffin lodging for millennia alone…Should’ve made my bedrock mansion somewhere else…
It comes at quite an environmental cost though limiting ecologies and landscapes in our subjugation of the Colorado and its environs, one that a group of University of California scientists recently set out to explore by raft. But the elephant (or cubist version thereof) looms over them – at 9,000 basketballs a second tumbling past it’s still submerged up to its knees.
And things aren’t moving much down there right now with this dehydration problem affecting even the smallest components: sediments getting trapped behind dams instead of those river flows carving their magic for generations on end hindering animal habitats and reduced camping facilities becoming overwhelmed by suffocating vegetation growth- speaking of which, where’s my gardening club when you need it?
The loss is profound here folks; grasses and shrubs block blow sand onto slopes & terraces with hundreds preserved cultural sites holding onto what little history remains amid all this ecological upheaval creating migration patterns known only in geologic time frames leaving us all to question both ourselves as stewards of such vital resources but also basic human survival techniques during an era marked so visibly by climatic change-don’t be caught without your paddle or flushing toilet!