I am a firm believer in George Santayana’s admonition that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In a recent article in The Denver Post about the Fremont and other prehistoric cultures in the Southwest, an archaeologist was quoted as saying "something big," or catastrophic, hit the region about 1,000 years ago. Some combination of burgeoning population, severe drought and perhaps other circumstances brought major cultural upheaval and death.
Severe drought may have triggered Santa Fe’s bloody Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish and, earlier, the collapse of the advanced Hohokam culture of Arizona. So we face — based on historical precedent — the likelihood of severe and prolonged drought.
Meanwhile, the United States is the third-fastest growing nation, behind China and India. Our 1 percent per annum growth rate represents doubling times of 60 years or less. Seventy percent of our growth is driven by immigration of upwards of 3 million people a year. How can any credible discussion of water dodge discussion of such dynamic forces unless we are simply so arrogant — or so in denial — as to believe that what happened to previous cultures simply cannot happen to our own?
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
- Dana Powers on The tenuous fate of the Southwest’s last jaguars
- Mark DeGregorio on Meet the aspiring ranger locked out by National Park Service practices
- Lael Bradshaw on New documentary offers a sharp look at the West’s water crisis
- Steve Snyder on Why has the National Park Service gotten whiter?
- Jim Schumont on Stop the rock-stacking