On June 17, which was World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, Paris Sciences and Letters University (PSL) in France, in collaboration with the University of Arizona, held the webinar Tipping Points: Desertification, Drought and Climate Justice. The webinar featured presentations from Régis Ferrière, Professor in Ecology and Environmental Biology at UArizona and École Normale Supérieure – PSL, WRRC Director, Sharon B. Megdal, and Nikki Tulley, PhD candidate in the UArizona Department of Environmental Sciences. Following the presentations, speakers engaged in a conversation moderated by PSL Vice President for International Relations Emilienne Baneth. Joining the presenters for the panel discussion was Germain L’hostis, a student at PSL and co-leader of PSL Anthropocene, a curriculum intended to promote awareness and training of PSL students to tackle global environmental challenges.
Introducing the concept of a “tipping point,” Ferrière described the response and resilience of socio-ecological systems in the face of gradual environmental change. Then, setting up both Dr. Megdal and Ms. Tulley’s presentations, he introduced the webinar’s focus on the “Dry West.” Megdal presented the Colorado River Basin as a case study of a basin at a tipping point. She spoke to the importance of process in addressing wicked water problems in the context of severe drought, complex management systems, and looming shortages. Nikki Tulley began her presentation by showing a video in Diné (Navajo) as an overview of water and drought in the Navajo Nation and then described 2020 as a tipping point for water access on the Reservation. She went on to introduce the NASA-Navajo Nation Drought Severity Evaluation Tool, a project co-developed in partnership with NASA’s Western Water Applications Office, the Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources, and the Desert Research Institute to improve drought reporting and water management in the Navajo Nation.
Image: Nikki Tulley