The Climate Alliance Mapping Project (CAMP) created the Arizona Water & Energy Map to accompany the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition, which is visiting Arizona beginning June 2018. The Water & Energy Map invites you to learn about water and climate justice in Arizona by exploring data and adding a story to share your experience.
What is Water/Ways?
The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition dives into water as an essential component of life on our planet, environmentally, culturally, and historically. This national exhibit is in Arizona for two years beginning June 2018, and will be paired with local exhibits developed to extend the national exhibit with information specific to each community hosting the exhibit tour. Water/Ways will travel to 12 host sites in Arizona in the following order: Bisbee, Fort Apache, Miami-Globe, Florence, Sierra Vista, Dragoon, Winkelman, Page, Camp Verde, Tubac, Black Canyon City, and Lake Havasu City. Water/Ways is made possible in Arizona by Arizona Humanities and the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives and School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University.
The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways explores many aspects of water. In societies across the globe, water serves as a source of peace and contemplation. Many faiths revere water as a sacred symbol. Globally, the complex character of water inspires authors and artists. Yet, water also plays a practical role in all societies. In American society, the availability of water affected settlement and migration patterns. Access to water and control of water resources have long been a central part of political and economic planning. American creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.
Water and Climate Justice: What’s the Connection?
CAMP’s Arizona Water & Energy Map invites viewers to explore connections between water, climate change, and social justice. Water is intimately connected to energy use, and a socially just response to climate change requires rethinking water.
In Arizona, water availability defines landscapes, the history of human settlement, and our modern economies. Climate change poses challenges for an already parched region that is expected to get hotter and significantly drier. Increased heat and changes to rain and snowpack in the U.S. Southwest will send ripple effects through Arizona’s agricultural sector. As the National Climate Assessment reports, “Severe and sustained drought will stress water sources, already over-utilized in many areas, forcing increasing competition among farmers, energy producers, urban dwellers, and plant and animal life for the region’s most precious resource.”
Arizona’s Tribal Nations and communities along the U.S.-Mexico border share particularly high vulnerabilities to climate changes. Due to historic land settlements and rates of poverty that are more than double the general U.S. population, many tribes face greater challenges to responding effectively to climate change and future water shortages. The Arizona Water & Energy Map accepts stories as a way of amplifying the perspectives of tribal and rural communities that are disproportionately affected by climate change in Arizona.
While climate change magnifies Arizona’s water challenges, it also requires similar solutions. Arizona’s abundant geothermal, wind, and solar power-generation resources could help transform the state’s electric generating system in to one that uses more renewable energy and less water. Renewable energy both mitigates climate change emissions and reduces the need for traditional thermal power plants, which often burn coal or natural gas and account for 40% of the surface water withdrawn in the United States.