2011-06-17 04:29:52How the West Was Lost: The American West in Flames -- TomDispatch
John Hartz
John Hartz

A US progressive blog site, TomDispatch, has posted an excellent essay, "How the West Was Lost: The American West in Flames" by Chip Ward.

Ward's essay has also been re-posted on the e-magazine Salon. It would make a good cross-post for SkS.

The founder of Tomdispatch, Tom Englehart, introdued the Ward article with the following: 

We’ve entered an era of environmental extremity.  Former governor of Arizona and Clinton-era Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt made the point bluntly in a recent speech: “I believe that this Congress, in its assaults on our environment, has embarked on the most radical course in our history... a pattern of a broad, sustained assault on nearly all our environmental laws.”

But the full-scale extremity of the dismantling urge of climate-change-denying (or -ignoring) House Republicans is nothing compared to the increasing extremity of nature itself.  These days, you can’t miss it if you turn on the TV news where storms, fires, and floods dominate, or simply look out your window more or less anywhere in this country right now (as I can attest having just returned from a visit to sweltering, early-June, 100-degree Washington, DC).  If you live in western Kansas, for example, and open your shades, you’re probably facing extreme drought conditions, while in the eastern part of the same state, you may be worrying about a deluge at possibly historic levels, thanks to the rampaging Missouri River. 

If southeast Georgia is your habitat, then maybe you’ve noticed that, with drought conditions covering three-quarters of the state, the wildfire season that should have ended by now hasn’t, and that 300 square miles of the Okefenokee Swamp are ablaze for the sixth straight week, as new fires are reported all the time.  On the other hand, should you live anywhere downhill from the West’s high country, you’re probably worrying about whether, with summer coming on, that staggering snowpack will turn into a raging flood.  If you happen to be in Texas, facing the worst drought since the first weather records were kept, maybe you’re wondering where all the water went.  (If you’re in the Texas oil or natural gas business, reliant on large supplies of water to operate, you, too, may be wondering, and even the House Republicans can’t help you.)

If you live in Arizona... but in a pall of smoke, let Chip Ward, westerner, environmental author, and TomDispatch regular who has long been writing about a West that's drying out, take up the story.  (To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which Ward discusses global “weirding,” click here, or download it to your iPod here.)  Tom