Link: Tourism is sucking Utah dry. Now it faces a choice - growth or survival? | Gabrielle Canon, with photographs by Kim Raff
“It is getting loved to death,” [Martha Ham] said, noting the need to help tourists and locals connect more deeply to the waterways and landscapes. Time for change is running short. Without a shift, the desert ecosystems will be imperiled along with the industries and communities that have come to rely on them. “Regardless of where you live in the world, it is crucial to be in touch with the natural limits of your environment,” she said. “People who think of visiting Utah, I hope when they come they see more evidence of us being in touch with our natural limits.”
“Utah is right in the bullseye of the US’s climate change impacts,” said Jon Meyer, assistant state climatologist at the Utah Climate Center, noting the “buffet of climate impacts” across the state. From declining amounts of snow in the winter and summer heatwaves to drought and destructive deluges – the conditions have been “an inflection point that has driven home the idea that Utah, its citizens and its economy are very impacted by the idea of a changing climate”, he said. “People are finding themselves in riskier situations for more days of the year.”
“We are so disconnected from the land or the water that we don’t even think about it,” [Ed] Andrechak says, adding that the answer doesn’t lie in new inventions or dramatic new water supply diversions, but in becoming more water-wise. “We can save ourselves by ourselves. I believe that analytically as an engineer and I believe it spiritually as a resident.”
This isn’t really about the Great Salt Lake but I’m getting nervous about The Great Salt Lake.
I’ve taken it for granted that people in Utah will never do anything about water usage for religious/cultural reasons, because abundance of water in the desert is seen as a fulfillment of prophecy and a spiritual birthright. (I have a whole sardonic note about that, which maybe I should finish and post sometime.)
I used to just take this is as “whatever,” just one more thing I don’t agree with many of my fellow Utahns about, but now I’m realizing we might really destroy everything for ourselves, and I’m not sure I can be just “whatever” about it. (I’m confident the land will continue fine without us, eventually. Nature overall can adapt; I see climate change as entirely a problem by humans, for humans. A bunch of other species might lose as well, but nature will be fine.)