Topic: It never rains in California? Historical perspectives on the recent drought in the West.
Guest Speaker: Prof Dr. Uwe Lübken, Professor of American History, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Munich
When: Wednesday, 26th October, 2016
Time: Registration starts 1830; meeting starts at 1900, dinner buffet around 2030.
Where: Marriott Hotel, Berlinerstrasse 93, 80805 Munich
Cost: EUR 25.00 for members, Eur 35.00 for guests (incl. Dinner buffet)
Sign-Up: Events tab on the new AGBC Munich Community Platform at www.agbc-munich.com
North America is confronted with an emerging water crisis. While scant mention of this has appeared in the election campaigns or in the media, drought and less rainfall are increasingly becoming sustainability threats.
From 2012 to 2015, California has experienced the most severe drought since record keeping began in the late nineteenth century. As a result, Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed several drought emergencies, residents of the Golden State had to come to terms with watering restrictions, and voters passed a $7.5 billion water bond.
Prof Dr. Uwe Lübken’s talk will trace the historical origins of the latest drought in the West and in California in particular. It will look at changing images of the arid environment, patterns of water consumption, and the crucial attempts to control the distribution of water in this part of the United States.
Corollary to the water shortage in the West, he will outline some of the flooding challenges in the eastern half of the US and also the impact of reduced rainfall on the Ogallala aquifer, the key water source for the Great Plains. .
This aquifer has shrunk 30% from normal levels. Without corrective action, an additional 39% is expected to be depleted over the next 50 years. The aquifer supports the rapidly expanding irrigated farming on the Great Plains. With a surface area of 174,000 square miles, the aquifer is double the surface area of all 5 Great Lakes and lies under parts of 8 states. While coordinated effort across the Great Plains states is limited so far, some states are now launching ground-breaking conservation steps.
Dr. Uwe Lübken is Professor of American history at Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich. He has held teaching and research positions at the universities of Cologne, Munich, and Münster and at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. His publications include a prize-winning book on the U.S. perception of the National Socialist threat to Latin America and several edited volumes, special issues, and articles on American history and the history of natural hazards and catastrophes. Most recently, he has published a history of flooding of the Ohio River (2014) and co-edited a volume on urban rivers (Pittsburgh University Press, 2016).