The Forgotten History of Brazil’s Concentration Camps

In the Early 20th Century, Authorities Hid Thousands of Impoverished Rural People Trying to Escape Drought

This is an excerpt from Brazilian social critic and novelist Rachel de Queiroz’s first book Os Quinze. Published in 1930 and later translated in English as The Fifteen, it refers to the year 1915 when thousands of people fleeing a drought in the interior of the state of Ceará, in northeastern Brazil, were placed in a concentration camp on the outskirts of the state capital, Fortaleza.

Though little discussed today, in 1915 and again in 1932, eight concentration camps were built in the countryside of Ceará. Today, the rescue of …

The Magic of Squeezing Water Out of the Sky

A Hundred Years Ago, Charles Hatfield Cashed in on America’s Weakness for Quick Fixes—Even if They Seem Too Good to Be True

In the 1956 film The Rainmaker, a slick-talking stranger played by Burt Lancaster shows up in a drought-stricken town. Clad in a black cowboy hat and red neckerchief, he woos …

Letting Go of Green Lawns

Lush Yards Once Defined the Southern California Dream, Today Grass Means Fines and Disdain

“Here, it was two stories and a lawn, two stories and a lawn, two stories and a lawn”
– Carolyn See from The Handyman

Sometime during the last-blast furnace heat of …

Technology Can Quench California’s Thirst

To Take on the Drought, We Need to Change the Way We Relate to Water

As their state continues to crawl through an extended period of drought, Californians are increasingly coming to terms with the fact that the water shortage isn’t ending anytime soon—and looking …

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 …

Six Ways We Can Keep the World From Drying Up

As Water Disappears, These New Techniques Will Help Us Stave Off Perpetual Drought

Early last year, Californians, already deep in their state’s drought panic, confronted a depressing statistic. Governor Jerry Brown had called for cities and towns to voluntarily cut down on water …