Earlier this summer, my wife, I, and a few friends went tubing on a river in Wisconsin.
I hadn’t hit a hit since probably 1975. But the basics were the same: the people, the hits, the sunburns and the good times. Well, we drank beer this time, because in 1975 I was 12 and not old enough to drink. No matter what they say about the 70s, my parents definitely wouldn’t let me drink beer.
The river was part of life in Yuma, Arizona. We fished in the river, swam in the river – although it could be dangerous in places – just sailed and hung out in the river. Yuma didn’t do a great job developing properties near the river, but that was the blood of the community.
But, as we all know, the once mighty Colorado River is dying, and it’s dying very quickly these days. And as I wrote before, this is a major problem. Yes, this 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’s a sad irony that Arizona is being hit very hard by climate change, because most politicians there probably still don’t believe that humans have contributed to our climate change.
As a young journalist in Prescott, Arizona, I knew many local officials who scoffed at the idea that the man had anything to do with climate change, even though science was being reported at the time. . And that was 30 years ago. We have known this for decades and ignore it. Now we will all pay at least some price.
Arizona will pay by having less water. This means that farmers, who have worked hard to turn the desert into fertile soil for winter vegetables, citrus fruits, highly profitable wheat fields and large date palms, will receive less or no water. Reality hits them in the face. I feel bad for them, despite decades of warning that this was coming.
In fact, the federal government has asked all affected states to come up with a new water sharing agreement to replace the old and expiring one. Of course they couldn’t, so here are the cuts. That means a lot less water for those states, especially Arizona.
We’ve all seen the news coming from Lake Mead, not far from Las Vegas. As the water has fallen to historic lows, bodies are beginning to be found. Crowd blows? Maybe, but unfortunately people focus on the wrong thing. It is not a question of crowd corps; it’s about people’s livelihoods and our future.
Fewer acre feet of water in Arizona and Southern California will mean fewer winter vegetables. This means, you guessed it, the prices of these items will skyrocket.
We can expect inflation after a pandemic, as we are seeing now. They go together. But these higher prices will be our fault. Sure, weather can be cyclical, but we’ve been warned by scientists about climate change for ages and we’ve done almost nothing. The federal government recently passed environmental legislation, and it’s a step in the right direction. But I fear that this is simply a case of too little too late.
But what about the rain that the west sees? Again, too little too late. A few showers only cause flooding and more deaths.
As the west dries out, we may see more rain and severe weather as well as soaring temperatures. Laugh at electric cars and tree-hugging hippies all you want. Your children and grandchildren will feel the lack of action.
Climate change is here, and we are all going to start feeling it. My home state of Arizona is facing a very difficult future and does not seem ready to act at all. Even if the state government finally does something, it’s too late.
We have ignored the coming crisis for too long. Now it’s here.
Brad Jennings is the editor of Ogle County Life.