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Would You Rather Have Water or Hedge Fund Managers?

The (Going A)way of Water

​The Great Salt Lake of Utah could run dry this decade, perhaps in as little as 5 years, having lost nearly two thirds of its former volume, so far. It feels very odd to write, and perhaps read, that warning issued by scientists just last week, as we see an atmospheric river flooding Southern California in a nearly unprecedented deluge. As is often the case, however these two environmental events are linked by the underlying process of the climate crisis. The warmer air that holds more water leading to less frequent precipitation, also leads to more extreme storms when they do occur, in a worst of both worlds. Thus, we see the multi-decade mega droughts in the Southwestern United States and our atmospheric Rivers in Southern California. Utah, of course, is not the only place where this is happening, droughts have been occurring across the United States for decades now, to the point that some scientists think that we should be redefining these drier conditions as the new “normal.” The warning lights are flashing not just in the Great Salt Lake, but with exposed lake beds across the country, low >60% water loss in lake Meade, and the Colorado and Mississippi rivers hitting historic lows. Perhaps even scarier to contend with is that even without the extra strain of the climate crisis pushing our weather to extremes, our current water usage is simply unsustainable. Without drastic behavioral change, water may become unaffordable, or even unavailable in some regions. Instead of wagging fingers at people taking long showers, or even watering their lawns too frequently, we cannot let ourselves be misled by this misdirect: shorter showers won’t make up for the 40 billion gallons lost annually in the Great Salt Lake since 2020. Instead we need to focus on the real users and depletors of our water supply, the corporations which currently use over 2/3 of the water taken from our riverways and reservoirs, often paying little to nothing for the availability and use of this precious resource essential to all our lives. The reality is that meaningful sustainability or conservation action is only possible by changing the practices of corporations. Without an economic incentive, though, we know that corporations will not act for the greater good of society. Perhaps dire and extreme economic impact resulting from the loss of the Great Salt Lake within just a few years will be a short enough timeline to spur action from business and political leaders during Utah’s current legislative session. Regardless of the specific actions taken to mitigate the loss of water in the Great Lake, the current shape of our economic and political system has already shown itself incapable of addressing longer term goals of sustainability. Polling consistently demonstrates a desire from the American people for climate action, but that urgency is blunted by the belief by many that climate change won’t affect them personally. The crisis in Utah is a stark refutation of that belief. Five years to no water is far less than a lifetime away. To save ourselves from the voracious appetite of corporations consuming all our resources, we need to combine political and economic power, on behalf of the people. So, join us each Tuesday in growing solidarity to make sure there is water to drink for the next generation! #DSOT #UPM

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