How Crop Circles Saved the Great Plains

In the 1940s, Farmer Frank Zybach Invented Center Pivot Irrigation and Brought the Dust Bowl Back to Life

If you live in the Great Plains, sooner or later you’ll get a question about those “crop circles” that can be observed from airplane windows during flights over the region. The answer is contained in the question: Put simply, they are circles of cropland.

The circular pattern, however, is different from the regular patchwork many people imagine traditional farm fields to be. The shape is the result of the center pivot irrigation, a development of the post-World War II era that profoundly changed the course of American food production. In …

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The Ancient Maya Cosmology of Conservation

In Their Worldview, Humans Were Not Superior to Nature. They Were But One Element Needed to Maintain Universal Balance.

In the middle of the jungle in central Belize excavating an ancient Maya water temple, I’m at the edge of a sacred pool, praying to Chahk, the Maya rain god, …

L.A. Is Drowning in Its Own Water Pretensions

Civic Leaders' Fantastical Claims of Water Self-Sufficiency May Endanger Southern California's Real Water Supplies

This time, “Chinatown” is fooling itself.

Los Angeles has a long history of water deceptions, a point made famously by Roman Polanski’s 1974 neo-noir film. But the massive self-sabotage of the …

Can a Public University Fix a City’s Achilles Heel?

UCLA Is Mobilizing Its Brains and Its Muscle to Make L.A. Energy and Water Independent

Can a university really help make its home city 100 percent independent on water and energy?

In Los Angeles, we’re going to find out. UCLA, where I’ve spent almost 50 years …

Could L.A. Become a River City?

Neighborhoods in the City's Northeast and San Fernando Valley Ripple with Opportunities for Housing, Offices, and Parks

Could Los Angeles become a river city?

All the progress in revitalizing the Los Angeles River has presented the city with a special opportunity: to develop the communities along the river, …

Southern California’s Reservoirs Are Fuller Than You Think

It's Hard to Watch Boats Glide Over a 40-Billion-Gallon Lake and Feel Despair

On a recent trip to Wyoming, I was talking to one of the locals about the drought back home in Southern California. She had heard that it was so bad …