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A Day to Celebrate the Diversity of Life

Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity, a day to celebrate the amazing richness of life that shares this planet with us. Though we rarely think about it, it’s the behind-the-scenes work of bugs and birds, fish and frogs, flowers and trees, and micro-organisms of every stripe that keep earth humming and the landscape…

Food and Beverage Companies Wake Up to Water Risks

Last week, Starbucks announced that it would stop sourcing and producing its bottled water brand, Ethos Water, in California and shift production from the Golden State to Pennsylvania. In explaining its decision, the beverage maker cited “the serious drought conditions and necessary water conservation efforts.” With California in its fourth year of a historic drought,…

One Colorado Town’s Answer to a Catch-22 of Water Conservation

A few years ago, the town of Westminster, Colorado, just north of Denver, came eye-to-eye with an issue many water-conserving cities face when a resident posed this question at a public meeting, “Why do you ask me to conserve, and then raise my rates?” With droughts dotting the country and a growing number of areas…

The Silver Lining in the California Drought

Denial, it’s been said, is not just a river in Egypt. It runs, of course, through each of us. But Californians have displayed quite a dose of it as a record-breaking drought rolls through its fourth year. It was just last week, propelled by the lowest snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in recorded history, that…

Let’s Change our Water Story

Our human story has always been a water story. The earliest civilizations developed and grew along rivers – from the Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East, to the Nile in Egypt, to the Yellow River in China. Rivers have been the lifelines for the growth and evolution of societies, providing the essentials of food,…

Climate Change Poses Existential Water Risks

We often hear it said that climate change is too abstract to win the support needed to effectively combat it. But the primary way we will experience climate change is through the water cycle – through droughts, floods, depleted rivers, shrinking reservoirs, dried-out soils, melting glaciers, loss of snowpack and overall shortages of water to…

Love Water for Chocolate

As Valentine’s Day approaches, no doubt many of us have chocolate on our minds and taste buds. Delicious, dark, tempting chocolate that, eaten in moderation, may even be good for us. As we’ve learned in recent years, the cocoa beans that give chocolate its main ingredient contain flavanols, which scientists have discovered may reduce the…

A Year Without the Colorado River, as Seen by Economists

Imagine if each tap that delivered water from the Colorado River – whether to a farm, a factory, or a home – suddenly went dry for a year. What would happen to the West’s economy? That’s pretty much the question a team of researchers at Arizona State University set out to answer – and the…

VIDEO: The Colorado River Reaches the Sea and Brings Life to Its Delta

In the list of conservation success stories of 2014, the return of flow to the once-verdant Colorado Delta ranks high. The spring pulse flow made possible by Minute 319, the groundbreaking agreement signed in late 2012 by the US and Mexico, brought the Colorado River to the Sea of Cortez for the first time in…

With Water, Life Returns to the Colorado River Delta

Last spring, on the eighth day of the release of Colorado River water into its channel at the US-Mexico border – an event known as the “pulse flow” – I witnessed something extraordinary. Like most mornings, I headed out with my National Geographic team before dawn to find the leading edge of the river as…

A Diversion of the Gila River Would be Wasteful, Harmful and a Big Mistake

By the end of the year, New Mexico must notify the U.S. Secretary of Interior whether it will pursue the construction of a diversion project on the Gila River in the southwestern corner of the state. New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission decided last week to recommend that the state pursue the diversion. But Governor Susana…

A Watershed Moment for Los Angeles

The timing might seem odd, even self-destructive. Last month, in the midst of one of the most severe droughts in California’s historical record, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order calling for his southern California city to cut its water imports by half within a decade. Water transferred hundreds of miles from northern…

Young Farmers in the Western U. S. Adapt to a Water-Scarce Future

Sipping raw, whole, grass-fed milk is a bit like tasting fine wine: a familiar experience, but much more special. That was my feeling when I drank a glass this week from De Smet Dairy in Bosque Farms, New Mexico, a small town nestled in the middle Rio Grande Valley. With his wife Erica, Mike De…

Public Helps Restore Flows to Critically Depleted Rivers

Change the Course, a water restoration movement led by National Geographic Fellow Sandra Postel, has encouraged some 70,000 people to cut their water footprint and restored 2 billion gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin. The model will be presented at this year’s Stockholm Water Symposium during World Water Week.

Colorado River Basin’s “Natural Capital” Delivers up to Half a Trillion in Annual Benefits, New Study Says

Last week I spent time around the Animas, La Plata, and San Juan Rivers in southwestern Colorado – generally the area between Pagosa Springs and Mesa Verde National Park, where the elaborate cliff-dwelling ruins of the Anasazi remind us that what we call home may not last forever. On one bright blue day pushing 90…