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

Rebecca Solnit writes:

James Lawrence Powell’s Dead Pool tells the story of the Colorado river well and moves it forwards to speculate on what the era of climate change will bring. He isn’t optimistic: in his account climate change is just one more factor that the engineers and hydrologists responsible for plotting the river’s fate refuse to face. He begins with two crises at Glen Canyon Dam: one of a sudden abundance of water that nearly destroyed the dam in the 1980s, another when the water level fell, in 2005, lower than the official scientists had calculated it would ever go. (A disaster for water managers, it was a miracle for explorers, who got to see canyons and cliff faces that were thought to have been lost for ever.) Dead Pool then doubles back to begin the story at the beginning, with the explorer Major John Wesley Powell and his warnings on the finitude of the South-West’s water.

(LRB 3 December 2009)

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