As it would be, my copy of Weizman and Shiekh’s book came in today, a day late. Taking a look at the photographs, just flipping through, I noted that the land is eerily vacant. All the scenery is from aerial view, very arid with slight outlines dancing on the sand, phantom remnants of what once was. I was almost saddened by the captions, to read what the Author asserts was once there, and then to see what remains, was depressing. If the Bedouins, nomadic peoples of the Negev desert and elsewhere, really did inhabit the deserts at first in mobile and then stationary settlements, it is a disconcerting premonition to believe that those people suffered forced assimilation into non-Bedouin cultures and the encroachment of their unsovereign desert lands. To consider that they were pressured to abandon their historically occupied lands due to encroachment by states working to ‘make the desert bloom’ is appalling. Those states using intentional climate change as a means to a greedy end is dastardly, and yet it invokes such complacency from the people because of the ingrained humanistic acceptance of restructuring the land around us.
The way that the Levant region expresses physical evidence of climate change mirrors my current understanding of the climate crisis of the southwestern United States. The southernmost parts of California and Arizona are currently experiencing a severe drought. The mighty Colorado River, the 6th longest river in the United States of America, runs dry before ever reaching the Gulf of California. The problem here is clear: humans are overdrawing from the water table to the point which it cannot naturally recover. The solution, as well, is clear: remove the humans. In this we find the overlying issue: the southwestern continental US has a very high population density, especially surrounding the Colorado River and its mouth. This is remedied through tighter restrictions on water use in this region. Recent legislation has forced citizens to be water-conscious consumers. However, if you look at where the allocation of water resources is distributed, you would see that businesses in this region are the culprits for the real damage to the water table. Beef and milk producing cattle farms are prevalent in this area, and use a hefty amount of the water to maintain their businesses. Farms, in total, are allocated 40% of the water resources in California. To compound this issue even further, because it is the best environment to raise cows, most of the beef and milk produced in the United States comes from this region. The cute little cow from the Real California Milk Corporation commercial is squandering all the water in the southwestern US. *slurp slurp*
These connections go full circle when considering the similarities in the ways we have altered and overdrawn our environment to support our livelihoods and industries in comparison to the ecological encroachment of Bedouin-inhabited desert regions by outsiders hoping to extend their national boundaries. The regions have similar qualities as biomes, chaparral and desert often occur close to each other geographically. Both regions are sunny and dry most of the year, and distributing water and other resources across these regions irrevocably disrupts the naturally occurring biome. The cases are too similar to discount the adverse effects of human intervention in ecological systems in both cases.