Monday, February 07, 2005

Wow, the Whole State?

Arid Arizona Points to Global Warming as Culprit

The WaPo has a nice scoop here. Apparently, the state of Arizona has decided global warming is to blame for a drought there. The article is not totally clear if they had a referendum on it or if everyone in the state quietly went to ASU school of climatology and wrote a joint thesis.

Let's give the writers the benefit of the doubt and blame the editor who wrote the headline. I'd rather look at a different aspect of the piece:

Arizona gets its water from groundwater and rivers such as the massive Colorado, a 1,450-mile waterway that supplies water to seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
The recent drought and changing weather patterns have shrunk the western snowpack and drained the region's two biggest reservoirs, lakes Mead and Powell, to half their capacity.

Without going back down the global warming path right now, it should be noted (and isn't in the article) that the overwhelming main reason behind Lakes Mead and Powell and the Colorado River being down is that Los Angeles takes more and more water every year and Las Vegas is growing at an unbelievable rate. This ABC report estimates 5,000 a month but also reports that the city needed to add 2000 teachers last year which suggests a growth rate well over 100,000 people a year. They are in the process of adding 88 new schools right now and have tripled the number of hospitals in recent years.

Anyway, when you double the population of a desert town over a 5 year period you will inevitably tax the water resources. Not to deny the climate change possibility, but Las Vegas is an example of another way humans affect the environment that ought to be kept in mind.

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