CRACKED: The Future of Dams in a Hot, Chaotic World

A new book from Patagonia offers hope for the dam removal movement and how it will contribute to mitigating the climate crisis. When we free the rivers, watersheds are restored, and Earth heals itself.

In Cracked: The Future of Dams in a Hot, Chaotic World, author Steven Hawley, an Oregon-based environmental journalist and documentary filmmaker, delivers the whole, ugly truth about dams and offers a pathway toward freeing our rivers.

Over the past 20 years, the mess made by America’s dam-building binge of the 20th century has come to light. Hawley highlights that what started out as arguably good government project – to turn rivers into revenue streams – has drifted oceans away from that original intent. As a result, water control projects’ main legacy is of needless ecological destruction and a host of unnecessary cultural injustices.

Cracked is a speed date with the history of water control — its dams, diversions, and canals, and, just as importantly, the politics and power that evolved with them. Examples from the American West reveal that the costs of building and maintaining a sprawling water storage and delivery complex in an arid world — growing increasingly dry under the ravages of climate chaos — are well beyond the benefits. Success stories from Patagonia and the Blue Heart of Europe point to a possible future where rivers run free.


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