The West’s Coming Tragedy of the Commons

Friday, 14 March 2014 10:33

By Sheila D Collins, Truthout | Op-Ed

The severe droughts now affecting California and the Colorado River basin suggest that we may be at a tipping point in our ability to continue to manage the water systems that are needed to power agriculture and support Western development. According to The New York Times, many experts believe the current drought that is drying up the Colorado River “is only the harbinger of a new drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished.” Already, the drought in California is threatening the state’s water supply – a harbinger of the enormous conflicts that are now on the horizon – conflicts between states and regions, urban residents and farmers, developers, farmers and environmentalists. With global warming now reducing the Sierra snowpacks, whose runoff has been irrigating the country’s breadbasket, we could be facing rising food prices and even food shortages into the future. It is within the realm of possibility that we could see – even in the United States – the kinds of conflicts that are roiling parts of the developing world.

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