- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 12, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199778922
- ISBN-13: 978-0199778928
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.3 x 6.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,109,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest 1st Edition
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"This is on the short list of key books for anyone who lives in or loves the American southwest--with scientific precision and understated emotional power, it explains what your future holds. If you live elsewhere: it's a deep glimpse into one place on our fast-changing planet, and you'll be able to do many extrapolations. Remarkable work!" - Bill McKibben, author Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"DeBuys delivers thoughtful portraits of efforts to ameliorate conditions . . . readers will appreciate this intelligent account of water politics, forest ecology and urban planning in a region seriously stressed even before global warming arrived to make matters worse."
"With wide-eyed wonder and the clearest of prose, deBuys explains why we should care about these places, the people he portrays, and the conundrums over land and water he illuminates. No longer are aridity and climate change in the Southwest only of regional interest; deBuys is writing for America and we should all listen to what he has to say." --Booklist (starred review)
"Drawing on the work of climatologists and other scientists, deBuys's analysis of the eco-crisis - rising temperatures, wildfires, water shortages, disappearing wildlife - is a reasoned warning to heavily populated arid regions round the world." - Nature
"A Great Aridness is his most disturbing book, a jeremiad that ought to be required reading for politicians, economists, real-estate developers and anyone thinking about migrating to the Sunbelt." --American Scientist
"Non-experts who want a concrete sense of climate change's impact - and a lyrical reading experience - should turn to A Great Aridness." - Washington Post
"DeBuys's research takes place in the field, one of the real strengths of this book. In lyrical prose rich in place and politics, his stories take us from the Navajo reservation to research labs.... A Great Aridness is both fascinating and frightening." --Orion
"Across the board global warming in the Southwest will challenge us morally, artistically, economically, politically, and socially. DeBuy's triumpth is to summarize, in clear and elegant prose, those challenges as they appear today." --Western American Literature 49:3
"William deBuys, one of our finest environmental historians, offers a narrative that follows the trajectory of Keeling's awesome arc. ... The story deBuys tells is informative, thought provoking, and elegantly written." --Western Historical QUarterly
About the Author
William deBuys is the author of seven books, including River of Traps: A New Mexico Mountain Life, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction in 1991; Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range; The Walk (an excerpt of which won a Pushcart Prize in 2008), and Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California. An active conservationist, deBuys has helped protect more than 150,000 acres in New Mexico, Arizona, and North Carolina. He lives and writes on a small farm in northern New Mexico.
Top customer reviews
DeBuys does not limit the book to changes related to climate. His account of changes brought about by extermination of Prairie Dogs is a very interesting and sad account of yet another way that short-sighted humans disrupted a delicate balance of nature with a huge negative impact to the region.
No matter what side of the climate-change debate you are on, I think you will find the author's well-researched description of recent changes to flora of the American Southwest to be interesting and compelling. The author has an informative and easy-to-read writing stile. I liked this book so much that I bought two more copies to give to friends.
In the history section, using archaeological records and other sources, deBuys explores the failed civilizations of the American southwest. He shows how they succumbed to the mega droughts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The drier world of the time led to the civilization of the time facing economic and demographic collapse. Some turned to violence. Others gave up on their homes and moved. When writing about these failed civilizations, there is a certain sadness to the author's voice that is quite touching. These were technologically advanced civilizations for the time period. And yet they could not do anything in the face of a warming world.
In the sections on the present, the author is at his best. The author systematically constructs the modern world that we live in, showing how policy, demographics, agriculture, immigration, and economics all interact to create a society that is using more water than is sustainable. And what an eye opener it is. No society can survive for long when it uses more water than is replaced. And yet according to the author, the American Southwest continues to add new people. But no new water is being added. Just the opposite. And that is just a demographic timebomb waiting to happen.
The author shows how present society's 'hydraulic cornucopia' is just a mirage in the desert. Eventually reality will set in. And then how will the society of the American Southwest deal with it? The author offers no solutions. He just describes the issues at hand. Though his book is one solution - education is a way forward. And the book does an excellent job of educating its readers to the problems at hand. There are no easy solutions, but the idea of balance between humanity and the environment is something that policy makers will need to look at - how to reach an equilibrium in a warming area where both humans and the environment can coexist and thrive.
Yes, what you read may even depress you but you'll learn so much about the great rivers in the west, how critical they are to human societies. There is an exciting story of his going down the infamous Lava Flow of the mighty Colorado River. The author manages to tell what is essentially a very grim tale of human shortsightedness in ways that are enlightening and strangely enough, entertaining.
If you want to know factors causing the increase in forest fires, read this book.
If you want to find the connections of these facts to global warming/climate change read this book.
You will also will also learn, in almost poetical fashion, how all the above affects the Indian tribes of Arizona & New Mexico and many other people of the Southern Colorado Plateau/southwestern U.S. desert
I can't describe how much I have learned and how much I have been fascinated with this book.
John P. Jones