Lake Mead

Meanwhile, drought.

A once-in-a-lifetime drought in the western part of the US is turning up dead bodies – but that’s the least of people’s worries.

It’s not once-in-a-lifetime any more. Lifetimes are going to be radically different in the future (the future meaning now and tomorrow and so on – not some distant prospect beyond the horizon).

Sitting on the Arizona-Nevada border near Las Vegas, Lake Mead – formed by the creation of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River – is the largest reservoir in the United States and provides water to 25 million people across three states and Mexico. Here, the stunning scale of a drought in the American west has been laid plain for all to see.

Used to provide.

If the lake keeps receding, it would reach what’s known as “dead pool” – a level so low the Hoover Dam would no longer be able to produce hydropower or deliver water downstream.

And why would it not keep receding? It’s not as if we’re doing anything differently.

Nasa, which monitors changing water levels, is warning that the western United States is now entering one of the worst droughts ever seen.

“With climate change, it seems like the dominoes are beginning to fall,” Nasa hydrologist JT Reager told the BBC.

“We get warmer temperatures, we get less precipitation and snow. The reservoirs start drying up, then in a place like the West, we get wildfires”.

Not next century or next decade or next year but now.

75% of Lake Mead’s water goes to agriculture. 75% of not much is not much.

Over a third of America’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown in California. But tens of thousands of acres lie idle because farmers can’t get enough water to grow crops.

There it is – the bottom line I keep mentioning in climate disaster posts: crop failures. Something the most obliviously optimistic of humans can’t ignore forever.

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