1. The desert farming experiment -- 2. Manifest destiny -- 3. An early warning -- 4. Of drainage and baby ducks -- 5. A prophet without honor -- 6. Dueling nature in the lake bed -- 7. The once mighty Colorado -- 8. A flood down under -- 9. The gift of the Indus -- 10. Science searches for answers -- 11. A vision for the future. Once touted as the bright hope for feeding the world's growing population, desert irrigation now threatens to destroy the very prosperity it was meant to create. Sounding the alarm, Mirage traces the development of desert farming, successfully initiated in British India and the American West, and shows the startling, calamitous results of this shortsighted enterprise. With monumental dams and complex technology we have made the desert bloom, only to see those labors eventually poison the land, ruining it for future cultivation and devastating fragile ecosystems. Chronicling the history of desert agriculture and irrigation in India and the later application of these techniques in the western United States and elsewhere, Clemings portrays ecosystems assaulted by invasive practices and crop irrigation methods designed without heed to the consequences. From the canal colonies of the Indus River basin to the massive dams of the lower Colorado River, we see the disastrous results of bringing arid lands under the agricultural yoke at any cost. With one-third of the world's crops raised on irrigated lands, the problems of sustainability have serious consequences. One of the most dire results has already been witnessed in the devastation at Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in California. In less than four years, Kesterson went from a "thriving wildlife refuge to a death trap." Dead fish, deformed chickens, and the death of thousands of migratory birds resulted from the subsurface drainage of irrigated lands, causing some to call the occurrence the "Three Mile Island of desert agriculture."