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Will Ferrell and Robert Redford Argue over the Colorado River

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Well, okay, it’s a fake argument. But the issue the two famous actors are bantering about is very real: restoring the Colorado River. Rather than preach, Robert Redford and Will Ferrell have made five humorous public service videos to get people’s attention. And it seems to be working. I’m writing about it, aren’t I?

The Colorado River crashes down from the Rocky Mountains. But so much of it is now diverted by growing cities, farms and industry along its path through the southwestern U.S. that it now dries up 70 miles short of its delta, at the Gulf of California in Mexico, near the California-Arizona border. Drought is making water loss even worse. As a result, the delta’s once-vast wetlands and thriving fish, bird and land-animal populations are dying fast. A campaign to help revitalize the delta, called Raise The River, is trying to amass $10 million.

In the short videos, which build on one another, Redford makes a brief, strong case to restore the wetlands, which would benefit wildlife and also the many communities that still depend on the delta. But then Ferrell pops onto the screen and dismisses Redford, saying “Do we really need more river? I mean, hell, we have plenty of ocean. Let’s move it.” He then describes a plan devised by him “and some other scientists” to “move a small part of the ocean back toward the wet part of the river.” Ferrell’s ploy is meant to show that there’s really no other sensible solution but to restore the river. The actors ask viewers to donate to RaiseTheRiver.org or MoveTheOcean.org. The latter, or course, is the same initiative, but with the slogan “Un-disconnect the Colorado.”

One of the videos is below. The others can be seen at the Raise the River site.

In a separate action, the U.S. and Mexico agreed earlier this week to open and close the gates of the Morelos Dam, along the border, over an eight-week period, to put some water back into the river bed and see how that helps the wetlands. Releases such as this are called for under a 2012 agreement between the two countries known as Minute 319.

Image courtesy of RaiseTheRiver.org

Mark Fischetti About the Author: Mark Fischetti is a senior editor at Scientific American who covers energy, environment and sustainability issues. Follow on Twitter @markfischetti.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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