Earlier in the summer, my wife and I and some friends did some tubing on a river in Wisconsin.
I had not been tubing since probably 1975. But the basics were the same – people, tubes, sunburns and good times. Well, we did have beer this time, because in 1975 I was 12 and was not old enough to drink. No matter what they say about the swinging 70s, my parents certainly would not let me drink beer.
The river was a part of life in Yuma, Ariz. We fished at the river, swam in the river – although that could be dangerous in places – boated and simply hung out on the river. Yuma did not do a great job developing properties near the river, but it was the life blood of the community.
But, as we all know, the once mighty Colorado River is dying, and it is dying very quickly these days. And as I have written before, that is a major problem. Yes, it is a problem for Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. But it is also a problem for all of us.
Climate change is a major culprit here, of course. And it is a sad irony that Arizona is being hit very hard by climate change, because most politicians there still probably don’t believe that man has contributed to our change in climate.
As a young reporter in Prescott, Ariz., I knew many local officials who scoffed at the idea man had anything to do with climate change, even though the science was being reported at the time that it did. And this was 30 years ago. We have known this for decades and ignored it. Now we will all pay at least some price.
Arizona is going to pay by having less water. That means farmers, who worked hard to turn desert into fertile soil for winter vegetables, citrus trees, highly profitable wheat fields and large date trees, will be getting less, or no, water. Reality is hitting them smack in the face. I do feel bad for them, although they have been warned for decades this was coming.
In fact, the federal government asked all states involved to come up with a new water-sharing agreement to replace the outdated and expiring one. They couldn’t of course, so here come the cuts. That means a lot less water for these states, especially Arizona.
We have all seen the news coming from Lake Mead, not far from Las Vegas. As the water has dropped to historic lows, the bodies are starting to be found. Mob hits? Maybe, but people are sadly focusing on the wrong thing. This isn’t about mob bodies; this is about people’s livelihoods and our future.
Less acre feet of water in Arizona and Southern California will mean less winter vegetables. That means, you guessed it, prices for these items are going to soar.
We can expect inflation after a pandemic, as we are now seeing. They go hand in hand. But these higher prices will be of our own doing. Sure, weather can be cyclical, but we have been warned by scientists about climate change for ages and have done next to nothing. The federal government did recently pass environmental legislation, and it is a step in the right direction. But I fear it is simply a case of too little too late.
But what about the rain the West is seeing? Again, too little too late. A couple of downpours just leads to flooding and more deaths.
As the West dries up, here we will see possibly more rains and severe weather along with soaring temperatures. Laugh about electric cars and hippies hugging trees all you want. Your children and grandchildren will feel the lack of action.
Climate change is here, and we will all start feeling it. My home state of Arizona is in for a very rough future and seems not poised to act at all. Even if the state government finally does something, it is too late.
We ignored the coming crisis for too long. Now it is here.