Cadillac Desert - 4. Last Oasis (1 of 6)





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Published on Apr 11, 2010

Cadillac Desert
Water and the Transformation of Nature (1997)
An American four-part documentary series about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature.
The film chronicles the growth of a large community in the western American desert. It brought abundance and the legacy of risk it has created in the United States and abroad.
The first three episodes are based on Marc Reisner's book, Cadillac Desert (1986), that delves into the history of water use and misuse in the American West. It explores the triumph and disaster, heroism and intrigue, and the rivalries and bedfellows that dominate this little-known chapter of American history.
The final episode, is drawn from Sandra Postel's book, Last Oasis, (1992) which examines the global impact of the technologies and policies that came out of America's manipulation of water, demonstrating how they have created the need for conservation methods that will protect Earth's water for the next century.

The CADILLAC DESERT series' fourth and final episode, Last Oasis, offers an eye-opening report on the ways in which water use -- and misuse -- are affecting the daily lives of millions of people in India, China, Mexico, South America, the Mideast, and here at home in Colorado and California. The broadcast explores how, in the face of rising water needs, advances in water conservation may be humanity's "last oasis."
Based on Sandra Postel's book Last Oasis (W. W. Norton, 1992; reissued 1997), the episode begins with the story of how America's large dams became examples for water projects abroad, particularly in developing countries. On the Narmada River, India is building the Sardar Sarovar Project, which will ultimately displace 100,000 people; in China, the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest dam project, will flood an area as famous as the Grand Canyon and displace over one million people. Although the World Bank, long a funder of large dams, has withdrawn from both projects, both countries have vowed to go forward.

Mexico City, struggling to provide water for its growing population, is sinking -- in some sections up to 12 inches a year -- due to overdrawn aquifers. Here, wealthy families get affordable piped water, while poor families must pay high prices for water brought in by truck. In the developing world, 80 percent of illnesses such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery are related to the lack of clean water and sanitation.

In the volatile Mideast, conflicts over the limited waters of the region are only further straining tense relationships. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are angry at the enormous disparity between the amounts of water Israeli settlers receive and the amounts they are permitted; meanwhile, Israel has pioneered drip irrigation and waste-water recycling technologies that are making the Negev Desert bloom.

Back home in Denver, Colorado, the victory by environmental groups in blocking the building of the Two Forks Dam on the South Platte River led not only to the protection of the spring sandhill crane migration in nearby Nebraska, but spurred conservation techniques such as home water meters and "xeriscape," a water-saving landscaping practice. In the Imperial Valley of California, farmers are beginning to cooperate with cities to save water and free up new supplies for urban use; in Los Angeles, a community group has been successful in convincing residents to install new water-efficient toilets, saving the city eight million gallons a day.

The program's final stop is south of the U.S.-Mexican border in the Colorado Delta, where the once verdant land has been turned into a dead zone -- miles and miles of cracked and dried-out salt flats -- due to the damming and diverting of the Colorado River upstream. The region's Cucapa fishermen are now, in their own words, "in a state of ruin." Only through the use of water conservation and recycling -- our "last oasis" -- can ecological and economic disasters like this be avoided.

This recording comes from old vhs tapes, and the quality is messed up in places. But, it is nearly impossible to find copies of the original series anymore. Just a single copy of the first episode is for sale on amazon, and the guy selling it wants $1000!! Or you can watch it here for free :)


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