For the April issue of The Highlight, Vox shares learnings from the Colorado River drought crisis. The Western United States is in its longest dry spell in 1,200 years, and the ongoing mega-drought has been worsening for over 20 years. That has begun to throttle one of the main arteries of the West, the Colorado River, which powers the largest hydroelectric dams in the country, quenches the thirst of millions, and irrigates crucial crops that feed millions of people. This iconic river’s flow has fallen by 20 percent in the last two decades. Meanwhile, its two largest reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Mead — are at historic lows, prompting the Bureau of Reclamation to announce another round of historic cuts earlier last year. In this issue of the Highlight, Vox continues to investigate the cause of the drought, what we can learn, and how to prepare for something similar.
Contributors to the issue include Umair Irfan on the terrifying worst-case scenario for the Colorado River; Benji Jones on the eight species that depend on the Colorado River and what happens when the river dries up; And how we are going to pay for draining the Colorado River. Keren Landman on the Coccidioides fungus that lives in the soil of the southwestern US, Mexico, and Central and South America, causing valley fever, a severe infection that can cause disease in humans and animals.
The Highlight, in partnership with Apple News, is a dedicated home for the signature features, essays, and explainers that help our audience go beyond the headlines of the day to tackle the big ideas and issues that are changing our present and influencing our future.