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See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 2

Book Review: The West without Water



The West without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climate Clues Tell Us about Tomorrow
Lynn Ingram Frances Malamud-Roam
University of California Press, 2013 ($29.95)

In this masterful portrait of how water has shaped the American West, paleoclimatologists Ingram and Malamud-Roam place the region's booming cities in the context of the past 20 millennia. Using forensic clues from gnarled trees, layered sediments and abandoned ancient settlements, they reveal the West's past century as an anomalous period of hydrological stability against a darker prehistoric background of century-long civilization-destroying “mega droughts.” When the West's waters rebel again, they warn, we must be ready. Part detective story, part call to action, this book offers vital advice on how to fix the West's looming water crisis.

This article was originally published with the title "The West without Water."

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