For example, the misuse of water. This spring PBS ran the scary two-part docu by Ken Burns on the Dust Bowl, that profound human tragedy in the 1930s American West caused by the confluence of climate patterns and bad human management of land and water. It finally ended when FDR's New Deal helped to reform farming practices, and then the rains came again.
But the docu also mentions that the same area most affected by the Dust Bowl was backsliding. The lesson of more modest demand on fragile resources ended when the High Plains Aquifer was discovered and tapped, providing water that created agricultural bounty and expansion. But, the docu warned, when the acquifer is depleted, even more people would be devastated than during the Dust Bowl.
Now it may be starting to happen. The New York Times reports from Kansas: The land, known as Section 35, sits atop the High Plains Aquifer, a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle. The aquifer’s northern reaches still hold enough water in many places to last hundreds of years. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought.