This spring the freshmen traveled to the Mojave National Preserve in California to study this fragile ecosystem, to witness the degradation people are causing and to discuss the politics associated with the formation of the preserve in 1994.
The impact of past and future climate change is also written in the desert for the students to read. At the peak of the last Ice Age, 18,000 years ago, many of the desert playa, or dry lake beds, were full of water and home to fish and shellfish. The water vanished a few thousand years ago when shifts in Earth’s orbit changed wind systems and rainfall. Today the Mojave National Preserve is the driest place in North America.