They sounded alarms about a coming #ColoradoRiver crisis. But warnings went unheeded — The Los Angeles Times #COriver #aridification

Brad Udall: Here’s the latest version of my 4-Panel plot thru Water Year (Oct-Sep) of 2021 of the Colorado River big reservoirs, natural flows, precipitation, and temperature. Data (PRISM) goes back or 1906 (or 1935 for reservoirs.) This updates previous work with @GreatLakesPeck.

Click the link to read the article on The Los Angeles Times website (Ian James). Here’s an excerpt:

Now, many of the scientists’ dire predictions are coming to pass, with Lake Mead and Lake Powell nearly three-fourths empty and their water levels continuing to fall. Some researchers say the seven states that depend on the river would have been better prepared had they acted years ago.

“If I’ve learned anything recently, it’s that humans are really reluctant to give things up to prevent a catastrophe,” said Brad Udall, a water and climate scientist at Colorado State University. “They’re willing to hang on to the very end and risk a calamity.”

He said it’s just like humanity’s lack of progress in addressing climate change despite decades of warnings by scientists. If larger cuts in water use were made sooner, Udall said, the necessary reductions could have been phased in and would have been much easier.

Peter Gleick, a water and climate scientist and co-founder of the Pacific Institute, said the collective failure to heed scientists’ repeated warnings is “directly responsible for how bad conditions are today.”

“If we had cut water use in the Colorado River over the last two decades to what we now understand to be the actual levels of water availability, there would be more water in the reservoirs today,” Gleick said. “The crisis wouldn’t be nearly as bad.”

Map credit: AGU

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