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

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by Steven Hawley, 2023. Hardcover, 320 pages.

The ugly truth about dams is about to be revealed.

During the first two decades of the twenty-first century, the whole messy truth about the legacy of last century’s big dam-building binge has come to light. What started out as an arguably good government project has drifted oceans away from that original virtuous intent. Governments plugged the nation’s rivers in a misguided attempt to turn them into revenue streams. Water control projects’ main legacy will be one of needless ecological destruction, fostering a host of unnecessary injustices.

The estimated 800,000 dams in the world can’t be blamed for destroying the Earth’s entire biological inheritance, but they play an outsized role in that destruction. Cracked: The Future of Dams in a Hot, Crazy World is a kind of speed date with the history of water controlits 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 arid under the ravages of climate chaos—is well beyond the benefits furnished. Success stories from Patagonia and the Blue Heart of Europe point to a possible future where rivers run free and the Earth restores itself.

About the Author
Steven Hawley is a writer and filmmaker from Hood River, Oregon. He is the writer and co-producer of an award-winning documentary, Dammed to Extinction (2019), and the author of Recovering a Lost River (Beacon Press, 2011). He’s a contributor at The Drake, Mountain Outlaw, and Columbia Insight