Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West

Overview


Where will the water come from to sustain the great desert cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix? In a provocative exploration of the past, present, and future of water in the West, James Lawrence Powell begins at Lake Powell, the vast reservoir that has become an emblem of this story. At present, Lake Powell is less than half full. Bathtub rings ten stories tall encircle its blue water; boat ramps and marinas lie stranded and useless. To refill it would require surplus water—but there is no surplus: ...
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Overview


Where will the water come from to sustain the great desert cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix? In a provocative exploration of the past, present, and future of water in the West, James Lawrence Powell begins at Lake Powell, the vast reservoir that has become an emblem of this story. At present, Lake Powell is less than half full. Bathtub rings ten stories tall encircle its blue water; boat ramps and marinas lie stranded and useless. To refill it would require surplus water—but there is no surplus: burgeoning populations and thirsty crops consume every drop of the Colorado River. Add to this picture the looming effects of global warming and drought, and the scenario becomes bleaker still. Dead Pool, featuring rarely seen historical photographs, explains why America built the dam that made Lake Powell and others like it and then allowed its citizens to become dependent on their benefits, which were always temporary. Writing for a wide audience, Powell shows us exactly why an urgent threat during the first half of the twenty-first century will come not from the rising of the seas but from the falling of the reservoirs.
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Editorial Reviews

Wilson Quarterly

“A historically important, well-timed, and memorable addition to the growing library of books about water and the West.”
Science (AAAS)

“A solid primer on the history of use of Colorado River water and the science of climate change.”
High Country News

“A suspense thriller, a history . . . and an informed warning. . . . Deserves to be read now, before we make even more mistakes.”
Earth Magazine

“A must read for Colorado River buffs, as well as anyone who wants a glimpse of what lies ahead for water.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520268029
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 531,390
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


James Lawrence Powell, Executive Director of the National Physical Science Consortium at the University of Southern California, is author of Grand Canyon: Solving Earth's Grandest Puzzle, among other books.
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations

Pt. 1 River of Surprise

1 The Dam Is Not Going to Break 3

2 Playing Dice with Nature 18

Pt. 2 River of Empire

3 Appointment in Samarra 27

4 One Simple Fact 37

5 The Reality of Empire 51

6 This Vast Plain of Opulent Soil 61

7 Lonely Lands Made Fruitful 72

Pt. 3 River of Controversy

8 Natural Menace Becomes National Resource 87

9 Shall We Let Them Ruin Our National Parks? 99

10 We Want to Be Dammed 112

11 To Have a Deep Blue Lake 129

12 The Biggest Boondoggle 148

Pt. 4 River of Limits

13 Time Machines 163

14 A New Climatology 179

15 Rainmakers 189

16 Let People in the Future Worry about It 202

17 A Hundred Green Lagoons 212

Pt. 5 River of Tomorrow

18 River of Law 229

19 The West against Itself 241

Acknowledgments 247

Notes 249

Index 273

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