Utah’s Great Salt Lake has already shrunk by two-thirds as increasing demands for water from a growing population meets the decreasing supply of water due to climate change. As a result, the lake’s brine shrimp face a risk of die-off this summer, which in turn threatens millions of birds who depend on them to power their migration. “Most alarming,” New York Times’ Chris Flavelle reports, “the air surrounding Salt Lake City would occasionally turn poisonous. The lake bed contains high levels of arsenic and as more of it becomes exposed, wind storms carry that arsenic into the lungs of nearby residents, who make up three-quarters of Utah’s population.”

Though a dramatic warning, “it’s not just fear-mongering” according to local Republican lawmaker Timothy D. Hawkes, “it can actually happen,” and indeed has to California’s Owens Lake, which is now responsible for some of the worst air pollution in the country. Republican Joel Ferry, a Utah state lawmaker and rancher who lives on the north side of the lake, called it “a potential environmental nuclear bomb that’s going to go off if we don’t take some pretty dramatic action.” (New York Times $)