Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water Essay

Marc Reisner
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In the following review, Rowley commends Cadillac Desert for exposing problems surrounding desert communities, but disagrees with Reisner's suggestion that the United States should leave those areas as Nature intended.

When the United States expanded across the continent in the 19th century, its landed empire claimed the arid expanses of the American West. Refusing to accept the limitations that aridity placed on the region, American enterprise used science, technology, and heavy capital investment to overcome the obvious environmental restrictions that "the Great American Desert" placed on agricultural and industrial development. The result was western irrigation, extended ditch water delivery systems, big dam projects, and massive urban growth during and after World War II. The story is impressive.

Some have not been so impressed. John Wesley Powell, in his Report on the Arid Lands of the American West (1878), laid the foundation for a "desertification critique" of western development. At...

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This section contains 688 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water Study Guide
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