How Restoring the Water Web Relieves Drought, Fire and Flood (with Alpha Lo)
Alpha Lo caught my attention when I heard him say, “All we have to do is…” and then lay out a sweeping plan for how California can effectively restore rain, prevent both wildfires and floods, and regenerate the water cycle. He explained how we could reverse the negative effects on the water cycle caused by how we’ve built our cities, treated our forests, and run our agriculture.
This plan clearly would take many years, and plenty of political will and resources, but he said, “All we have to do…”
I loved that, because he helped me see that it’s all possible. As he described it, I could see it happening.
With a background in physics, and experience working in different permaculture farms and eco-restoration projects, Alpha is now in the water restoration field. He’s been researching the connection of climate, water and ecology, and publishes the Climate Water Project newsletter and podcast. He co-founded a network of water land managers, watershed restorers, and people interested in understanding the connection of water, climate and ecology. He is the co-author and editor of the “Open Collaboration Encyclopedia,” and has utilized those collaborative skillsets in emerging a water network.
Alpha has opened my eyes to how crucial the way we handle water is to addressing our ecological and climate emergencies. It’s at least as important as carbon – but, as he explains in this conversation, water is getting less attention because the science on water hasn’t been made as clear to the public as the science on carbon. So, I hope that after you listen you’ll join us in spreading the word, and bringing water into your conversations about climate.
Click Play above to hear about:
- how pavement, channelization of rivers, and cutting down trees lead to less rain, and more vulnerability to drought and fire
- how improving soil and vegetation help prevent floods, with examples from California and Australia
- how animals are key players in the “water web” – from wildebeest to dung beetles to wolves
- the role regenerative water practices play (or might play) in local and global cooling
- practical changes we can make in small homes and gardens, and on large areas of land – like permeable pavement, curb cuts, swales, terraces, greywater systems, and (of course!) bringing back beavers
- why there are hundreds of climate scientists working on the “small water cycle,” but there’s very little public awareness and policy discussion around it
- the idea of international collaboration in “precipitation recycling watershed networks,” because rivers and rain cross all political borders
- and one of my topics of greatest fascination: the insights we can get from seeing the Earth as a body, and our bodies as landscapes
This episode is rich with information and I’m excited to hear what sparks your curiosity, your hands-on actions, your conversations.
- Alpha’s newsletter, Climate Water Project
- Climate Water Project on Instagram
- The Climate Water Project’s 2022 in Review, which shares names and links to research from many of the scientists Alpha mentions in this conversation
- A few highlights:
- A conversation wtih Rodger Savory on the Imperial Valley project mentioned in this episode
- A conversation with Francina Dominguez on how the ways we tend to land affect the rain
- A conversation with hydroclimatologist Millan Millan, who predicted wildfires in California
Music by East Forest