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Calif. drought is warning for all

A tumbleweed lay in an irrigation channel on a farm near Cantua Creek, Calif., earlier this month.


A tumbleweed lay in an irrigation channel on a farm near Cantua Creek, Calif., earlier this month.

JARED DIAMOND, in his bestseller “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” details how humankind’s use and abuse of the environment have led to the catastrophic failures of many civilizations. He has much to say about water, the politics to control it and wars waged to grab it when the water supply shrank.

In “Obama says US must rethink its use of water” (Nation, Feb. 15), the president said that weather-related disasters are going to get worse. Obama said we need to be proactive about water shortages, “to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for.” He also announced $160 million in aid.

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Increased aid might help in the short run, but even more, we need to rethink our relationship to water from, literally, the ground up. We cannot imagine that we are smarter than those failed civilizations. We have the tools that modern technology provides, but we haven’t much outgrown the greed, egotism, and short-sightedness of our predecessors.

Carole-Jean Smith


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