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Promoting and Restoring Our Watersheds

Promoting and Restoring Our Watersheds

Our societal addiction to the combustion of carbon-based fossil fuels for energy is now unequivocally understood to cause global climate change due to excessive accumulation of “greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere. These gases thicken the atmosphere’s capacity to retain solar energy, leading to an increase in the planet’s average surface temperatures. Solid, liquid and gaseous phase changes by water are the thermal mechanisms through which the planet primarily attempts to regulate its human-induced “fever.” Water is manifesting some of the most dramatic expressions of this climate change, with melting polar ice and glaciers, rising sea levels, coastal inundation, ocean acidification, warmer tropical water, slowing of the Gulf Stream, stronger hurricanes, and increased floods and droughts….

At the WATER Institute we call our philosophical and practical responses to the water challenges and opportunities before us “Conservation Hydrology.” Conservation Hydrology utilizes the disciplines of ecology, population biology, biogeography, economics, anthropology, philosophy, planning, and history to guide community-based watershed literacy, planning, and action. Conservation Hydrology advocates that human development decisions must move from a “dehydration model” to a “rehydration model.” To achieve this goal we must retrofit existing development patterns with new ones based on the following principles: Receive, Recharge, Retain, Release.

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