The Colorado River from space on March 12, 2013 – NASA Earth Observatory
On Monday, 22 April 2013, over one billion people worldwide will take part in the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. The theme this year is The Face of Climate Change. We are invited to take a photo and tell our story of the way in which climate change affects us and what we are doing to be part of the solution.
In my corner of Planet Earth, the Colorado River is the face of climate change. On 16 April 2013, the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers ranked the Colorado River as our nation’s number one endangered river. This lifeline through the desert sustains over 40 million people in seven Western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Our water demands are so great that this mighty river dribbles and dries up for some fifty miles before it reaches the Gulf of California.
Colorado River Delta – America’s Most Endangered River 2013
Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam shows signs of the worst ten-year drought in recorded history along the Colorado River. A white mineral “bathtub ring” along its rocky banks lies 100 feet up from the current water line to the 1983 high-water mark.
Lake Mead Reservoir behind Hoover Dam 2009 – Colorado River – USA
American Rivers, the leading organization working to protect and restore our rivers and streams since 1973, warns that warmer weather and below average snowpack in the Rocky Mountains are expected to reduce Colorado River’s flow by 10 to 30 percent by 2050. Assuming a life expectancy of 80 years, my sons and all inhabitants of this region between 0 to 43 years old will face dwindling water supplies and subsequent effects on food production and industries.
During the first three months of this year, California experienced its driest first-quarter on record since 1895. And we are not alone. Sixty-seven percent of contiguous states are drier than normal and the population in some places still struggle with exceptional drought. The weekly updated U.S. Drought Monitor Map shows the extent of drought across the United States.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in February 2013 that the 2012/2013 drought affected our nation’s agricultural production, river transport system, recreational enterprises, and municipal water supplies. America’s economic loss to drought is estimated at US$35 billion.
With its dependence upon the waters of the endangered Colorado River, will Los Angeles still maintain its glory as the nation’s entertainment capital a hundred years from now?
As an Angeleno, I am the face of climate change. I cannot claim innocence. I have to let go of my complacency. I have to change my ways and my habits. I have to conserve energy, gas, and water. I have to buy more locally grown food. I have to reduce my waste. I have to stop craving useless stuff that depletes Earth’s natural resources and heats up our atmosphere for its production. I have to walk and use public transport as often as possible to reduce my carbon footprint.
I am the face of climate change. I cannot claim innocence. I am the cause and the solution.