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The West without Water: What Past Floods,…
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The West without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us about Tomorrow (original 2013; edition 2013)

by B. Lynn Ingram, Frances Malamud-Roam

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491520,423 (4.67)6
The West without Water documents the tumultuous climate of the American West over twenty millennia, with tales of past droughts and deluges and predictions about the impacts of future climate change on water resources. Looking at the region's current water crisis from the perspective of its climate history, the authors ask the central question of what is "normal" climate for the West, and whether the relatively benign climate of the past century will continue into the future. The West without Water merges climate and paleoclimate research from a wide variety of sources as it introduces readers to key discoveries in cracking the secrets of the region's climatic past. It demonstrates that extended droughts and catastrophic floods have plagued the West with regularity over the past two millennia and recounts the most disastrous flood in the history of California and the West, which occurred in 1861-62. The authors show that, while the West may have temporarily buffered itself from such harsh climatic swings by creating artificial environments and human landscapes, our modern civilization may be ill-prepared for the future climate changes that are predicted to beset the region. They warn that it is time to face the realities of the past and prepare for a future in which fresh water may be less reliable.… (more)
Member:CurbstoneValley
Title:The West without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us about Tomorrow
Authors:B. Lynn Ingram
Other authors:Frances Malamud-Roam
Info:University of California Press (2013), Hardcover, 289 pages
Collections:Favorites
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The West without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us about Tomorrow by B. Lynn Ingram (2013)

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"The West without Water" is a very readable book describing the historical climate of the Southwest United States going back for hundreds of thousands of years and more. Scientific temperature and rainfall records only go back for one hundred and fifty years or so, so evidence for the "normal" climate of the Southwest is based on proxy records. Proxies include analysis of tree-ring growth, bore holes, ice bores, radiocarbon dating techniques, chemical and microscopic analysis, lake bed analysis, etc. These secondary measurements give scientists clues as to regional temperatures and water availability from the past. But the book doesn't focus too heavily on these techniques, but just gives enough background into them to allow the reader to gain an understanding of why these techniques are used, and why they make sense.

The book also examines the history of the West, such as the Southwest native indian cultures such as the Anasazi pueblo and cliff dwellers, and shows how the regions natural draught cycles led to the collapse of their civilizations. The authors also describe what the evidence shows are the predominant climate cycles for the region, and how the recent settlement times of the Southwest, while dry, may have been much less dry than for historical norms.

Adequate water for the region is and remains a significant concern, and with increased population, increasing water demands, and with the climate reverting back to warmer and drier times, the water supply will only become more critical. Since such a significant portion of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts are grown in the California region, adequate water supplies are critical not just for domestic use, but for agricultural use as well. With increasing competition for water, and a reduction of anticipated water supplies for the region, the problem is real and must be addressed. One part of addressing the problem is recognition and acceptance of the problem, and this book goes a long way to providing the background and possible solutions for water in the West.
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  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ingram, B. Lynnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Malamud-Roam, Francesmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Postel, Sandra L.Forewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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For my loving family: Don, Daniel, Aaron, and Gene, and in memory of my father, Dr. Gerald Ingram

B. Lynn Ingram
For Anne

Frances Malamud-Roam
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One of Robert Frost's most famous poems asks whether the world will end in fire or in ice.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The West without Water documents the tumultuous climate of the American West over twenty millennia, with tales of past droughts and deluges and predictions about the impacts of future climate change on water resources. Looking at the region's current water crisis from the perspective of its climate history, the authors ask the central question of what is "normal" climate for the West, and whether the relatively benign climate of the past century will continue into the future. The West without Water merges climate and paleoclimate research from a wide variety of sources as it introduces readers to key discoveries in cracking the secrets of the region's climatic past. It demonstrates that extended droughts and catastrophic floods have plagued the West with regularity over the past two millennia and recounts the most disastrous flood in the history of California and the West, which occurred in 1861-62. The authors show that, while the West may have temporarily buffered itself from such harsh climatic swings by creating artificial environments and human landscapes, our modern civilization may be ill-prepared for the future climate changes that are predicted to beset the region. They warn that it is time to face the realities of the past and prepare for a future in which fresh water may be less reliable.

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