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Protect Prairie dogs! Join us Monday, March 21st, and Help Kill House Bill 16-1010

By Wildlands Defense
In Colorado, a house bill has been introduced to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee entitled “A bill for an act concerning the authorization process for the release of destructive rodent pests into a county.” If passed, this bill will make it increasingly difficult to save prairie dogs and the land and wildlife they maintain. The purpose of this bill is to make relocations more difficult than they already are since more people are showing concern and love for this keystone species which is making developers and ranchers nervous. This bill will require the approval of county commissioners and at least two additional entities prior to ANY proposed relocation throughout the state within counties. These restrictions are already required between counties and have effectively limited the conservation of wildlife communities since commissioners rarely approve prairie dog relocations.

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It is important to understand that adding further restrictions to the preservation of wildlife will push a myriad of species towards extinction, especially during this time when land and living communities are being destroyed at alarming rates as a result of rampant development. This bill is an insult to wildlife in Colorado. Currently, it is already extremely difficult to relocate prairie dogs and only 18 relocations have occurred throughout the entire state of Colorado since 2012 which saved approximately 2800 prairie dogs. Contrast this number with the hundreds of thousands that have been poisoned within that same time period. Presently, when trying to save these fragmented colonies, advocates have to go through permitting with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which takes at least 30 days, and they also have to find land to move prairie dogs to which can take up to several years since government agencies very rarely agree to preserve prairies on public lands. Development and ranching are always given priority over wildlife preservation.

Join Us on Monday, March 21st, at the Denver Capitol at 1:30pm and Help Us Oppose This Bill!

WildLands Defense has been working with a group of third graders at the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School and they have decided to come to this meeting and speak for the prairie dogs! These intuitive students are appalled to hear that our legislators want to extinguish this keystone species from the prairies and are determined to stand up against this bill and voice their opposition. This third grade class has watched our political process at work during the last 2 months as legislators have postponed this hearing two different times. The first time was on February 8th, when they were notified 2 hours prior to the hearing. These students were all dressed up and ready to speak and were very disappointed to find out that all their preparation was thwarted by Kevin Priola, the individual that introduced the bill, because he missed his plane after watching the Superbowl in California. These students are learning a sad lesson that our legislators are more determined to silence their strong voices than listen to their concerns. We believe these postponements are happening to decrease the opposition, but let’s prove them wrong and show up in numbers!

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WildLands Defense is asking all of our supporters in Colorado to come join these third grade allies and march with them to the capitol on Monday. We will be meeting outside their school building, located at 1860 Lincoln Street around noon, and we will begin the march at 12:30. Please help support these young activists in taking the first strong step to insist that prairie dogs and wildlife are a part of their future.

Once we get to this meeting, we hope that many of you will be willing to speak and ask the committee to vote against this bill. We will be given 3 minutes each to voice our concerns. This bill, so far, is going to be heard after another bill regarding oil and gas, so plan on spending the afternoon with us. We need to show up by 1:30 in case they switch the order.

This session will start at 1:30, Monday March 21st, at the capitol, 200 E. Colfax Avenue, in the legislative building. Your voice can help us stop the destruction of this keystone species on the prairies.
Thank you for your ongoing support of WildLands and Wildlife.

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For the Prairies!

Natalie Ertz, Executive Director
Brian Ertz, Board President
Katie Fite, Board Secretary
Deanna Meyer, Board Director
Linda Van Nostrand, Board Director
Dave Hayes, Board Director

The Ecomodernist Manifesto is a program for genocide and ecocide

Perhaps you’ve heard of the false promise of Bright Green Technology? If you couple that with a strong dose of human-centrism, you might have something like Ecomodernism. That’s not a good thing. Deep Green Resistance co-founder Derrick Jensen explains.

Remade by man: the Passenger Pigeon. Juvenile (left), male (center), and female (right), from 'Birds of New York' (University of the State of New York) 1910-1914. Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927), Public Domain via Patrick Coin on Flickr.

Remade by man: the Passenger Pigeon. Juvenile (left), male (center), and female (right), from ‘Birds of New York’ (University of the State of New York) 1910-1914. Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927), Public Domain via Patrick Coin on Flickr.

The idea of a ‘good, or even great, Anthropocene’ as promised in the Ecomodernist Manifesto is purely delusional, writes Derrick Jensen. Worse, it underlies a narrative in which the wholesale destruction of nature and of sustainable indigenous societies is repackaged as a noble mission – one whose ultimate purpose is the complete alienation of humans from the planet that spawned us.

 

 

“If we wish to continue to live on this planet, we need to recognize and remember that it is our only home and that we are dependent upon this planet, and that this dependence is a very good thing.”

Robert Jay Lifton noted that before you can commit any mass atrocity, you must convince yourself and others that what you’re doing is not atrocious, but rather beneficial. You must have what he called a “claim to virtue”.

Thus the Nazis weren’t, from their perspective, committing mass murder and genocide, but were ‘purifying the Aryan Race’. They weren’t waging aggressive war but gaining necessary Lebensraum.

The United States has never committed genocide, but rather has fulfilled its Manifest Destiny. It has never waged aggressive war, but rather has ‘defended its national interest’ and ‘promoted freedom and democracy’.

Today, the dominant culture isn’t killing the planet, but rather ‘developing natural resources’.

This is to say that any culture foolish and insane enough to murder the planet that is our only home would of course be foolish and insane enough to attempt to provide justifications for this murder.

That brings us to An Ecomodernist Manifesto, the same sort of claim to virtue we’ve come to expect from this culture’s several thousand year tradition of nature-hating.

And the Earth is remade by human hands

Heck, the first written myth of this culture is of the hero Gilgamesh deforesting what is now Iraq to build a city and make a name for himself. Fast forward a few thousand years, and that’s the same nature-hating and empire-building story being told in An Ecomodernist Manifesto (and that has been told in myriad ways in between).

The narcissism, entitlement, and gaslighting starts at the beginning: “To say that the Earth is a human planet becomes truer every day. Humans are made from the Earth, and the Earth is remade by human hands.

“Many earth scientists express this by stating that the Earth has entered a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. As scholars, scientists, campaigners, and citizens, we write with the conviction that knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene.”

“The Earth is remade by human hands” … ‘Remade’ is such a nice word, isn’t it? Much better than ‘destroyed, murdered, ravaged, grievously harmed’, don’t you think? Gilgamesh and those who came after didn’t deforest and desertify what was once called the Fertile Crescent, they ‘remade’ it from cedar forests so thick that sunlight never touched the ground into cities and deserts.

The Egyptians and Phoenicians didn’t kill the forests of North Africa, they ‘remade’ them into navies and deserts. This culture hasn’t wiped out 98% of the world’s ancient forests, wetlands, grasslands; it’s merely ‘remade’ them, complete with ‘remaking’ the plants and animals there into extinction.

This culture isn’t killing the oceans; it’s merely ‘remaking’ them such that there probably won’t be any fish. It’s not extirpating elephants and great apes and great cats and two hundred species per day; it’s merely ‘remaking’ them so they’re extinct. It doesn’t commit land theft and genocide against Indigenous peoples, instead it merely ‘remakes’ them and their landbases.

Not all humans – just the powerful ones

Further, the sort of remaking they’re talking about in this Manifesto is not done by all humans, as they claim. It’s done by specific sorts of humans, who feel entitled to take everything on the planet, the sorts of people who might call it a ‘human planet’.

I live on Tolowa Indian land in what is now far northern California. The Tolowa lived here for at least 12,500 years, and when the Europeans arrived, the place was a paradise. There were so many salmon in the rivers that the rivers were “black and roiling” with fish. The Tolowa and Yurok and Hoopa lived here truly sustainably, and could have continued to do so more or less forever.

Members of the dominant culture arrived less than 200 years ago, and immediately embarked on campaigns of extermination – the authors of An Ecomodernist Manifesto might call these ‘campaigns of remaking’ – against the human and nonhuman inhabitants.

And what was the point of all of these campaigns of extermination remaking? It was no different in the 1830s than it is now, and it is no different now than it was in the time of Gilgamish.

The point is to allow Gilgamish to create a city and make a name for himself; I mean, to allow the Chosen People to enter the Promised Land; I mean, to allow the superior ones to create an empire upon which the sun never sets; I mean, to allow the superior ones to Manifest their Destiny; I mean, to allow the superior ones to create a Thousand Year Reich; I mean, to allow the superior ones to do so much damage to the planet that they name a fucking geologic epoch after themselves; I mean, to “allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene.”

The end of violence! Really … ?

The authors of An Ecomodernist Manifesto also state: “Violence in all forms has declined significantly and is probably at the lowest per capita level ever experienced by the human species, the horrors of the 20th century and present-day terrorism notwithstanding.”

Who would have guessed that when you redefine violence perpetrated by your culture as not being violence but rather as ‘remaking’, that you can then claim that “violence in all forms has declined significantly”?

I’m not sure members of the two hundred species driven extinct today would agree that “violence in all forms has declined significantly.” Nor would members of Indigenous human cultures being driven from their land, or being exterminated: Indigenous human languages are being driven extinct at an even faster relative rate than are nonhuman species.

But I guess none of this counts as violence in any form whatsoever. Because of this culture’s ‘remaking’ of the planet, wildlife populations across the world have collapsed by 50% over the past forty years. Because of this ‘remaking’, the oceans are acidifying, and are suffocating in plastic. I guess none of this counts as violence in any form.

This ‘remaking’ of the planet is causing the greatest mass extinction in the history of the world, in fact so far as we know the greatest mass extinction in the history of the universe. And violence is down? Only because they don’t count the violence they don’t want to count.

They also don’t count the violence of subsistence farmers being driven from their lands. Nor do they count the violence of humans (and nonhumans) losing their traditional ways of living in this great ‘remaking’. They don’t count the horrors of factory farming or row-crop agriculture.

The rule of law and increased freedom. Oh yeah?

The authors state, “Globally, human beings have moved from autocratic government toward liberal democracy characterized by the rule of law and increased freedom.”

I don’t think those subsistence farmers forced from their land and into cities would agree they’re living in a time of increased freedom. And I don’t think any of us have the freedom to live free of the world this culture is ‘remaking’.

Do I have the freedom to live in a world with more migratory songbirds each year? More amphibians? Do I have the freedom to live in a world not being murdered? This culture gives its victims the choice: “Adapt to the world we are remaking to suit us, or die.” This is not fundamentally different to the choice this culture has long offered Indigenous peoples, of ‘Christianity or death’, or ‘Give away your lands and assimilate, or death.’

Once you give in to this culture, stop defending your land from this culture, become dependent on this culture, work for this culture, identify with this culture, propagandize for this culture, serve this culture, then the culture and its proponents may stop attacking you. But if you don’t give in, you will be exterminated. As we see. And none of this is considered violence.

Living Marxism?

A few years ago I was interviewed by a dedicated Marxist who believes it’s possible to create an industrial system in which all economic exchanges are voluntary, absent of any violence or coercion.

Of course, as with the authors of An Ecomodernist Manifesto, he didn’t count violence against nonhumans or the natural world as violence. He also said that cities could exist under such a society.

I asked, “What do you use for transportation?”

He said, “Buses.”

I asked, “Where do you get the metals for the buses?”

“Mines.”

“Where do you get the miners?” Mining is one of the first three forms of slavery, and the primary way to get people into mines has always been coercion, whether it’s at the point of a sword or gun; or through laws such as those of apartheid; or through other means of destroying people’s access to land, and therefore access to food, clothing, and shelter, and therefore self-sufficiency.

He said, “You pay them enough that they’ll do it.”

I said, “What about pollution in the river? We agree that mines pollute, right? It’s impossible to have a mine without harming the land and water and air, right?”

He agreed.

I said, “What about the people who live next to the river which will now be polluted?”

“You pay them to move.”

“What if they’ve lived there for 12,500 years, and their ancestors are there, and they refuse to move?”

“Pay them more.”

“They refuse your money.”

“How many are there?”

“What difference does that make? Let’s say 500.”

He said, “We vote.”

I said, “So the million people in the city vote to take the land from the 500 people who live along the river?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “You do realize that by not questioning the industrial infrastructure, you have moved within one minute from being a staunch advocate for only voluntary economic exchanges, to defending colonialism, land theft from the Indigenous, and democratic empire, right?”

The Ecomodernist goal: ‘decoupling’ humans from the natural environment

Cities have always depended on a countryside (also known as colonies, also known as nature) to exploit.

The authors state, “Whether it’s a local indigenous community or a foreign corporation that benefits, it is the continued dependence of humans on natural environments that is the problem for the conservation of nature.”

Often those trying to justify the destructiveness of this culture conflate Indigenous people living in place and affecting their landbase with the clearly destructive activities of transnational corporations. The claim seems to be: because humans lived someplace, and affected the land there (as every being will affect all other beings: the bacteria who live inside of you affect you, some in very positive ways), then that gives the dominant culture carte blanche to act however it wants.

As the anti-environmentalist Charles Mann puts it: “Anything goes … Native Americans managed the continent as they saw fit. Modern nations must do the same.”

This is, of course, completely insane (and self-serving). Anyone with integrity understands the difference between Indigenous peoples living in the same place for 12,500 years and the place being capable of supporting them for another 12,500 years, and the dominant culture extracting resources to make a buck (oh, sorry, ‘remaking’ the place).

Of course humans affect the land. Salmon affect the land. Alder trees affect the land. Beavers affect the land. Prairie dogs affect the land. Wolves affect the land. Oyster mushrooms affect the land. But the question becomes: does your presence on the land help make the land healthier? There’s a world of difference between participating in a living landbase on one hand; and extracting resources or ‘remaking’ the land on the other. The former is a relationship; the latter is theft, murder, and control.

We are part of this planet – and we better get used to it

It was said of the Indians of northern California that they of course made decisions that affected the land (just as do salmon, redwood trees, and everyone else), but that these decisions were made on the understanding that the people were going to be living in that same place for the next five hundred years. In other words, their decisions were made based on their embodied understanding that their own health was entirely dependent upon the health of the land.

This is precisely the opposite of what those who promote extractive economies do, and it is precisely the opposite of what the authors of An Ecomodernist Manifesto propose. They propose that the ‘problem’ is “the continued dependence of humans on natural environments.”

But that’s not the ‘problem’. That’s the reality. We live on the Earth, our only home, our only source of air, water, food, shelter, our only source of everything that brings life. It is physically impossible to ‘decouple’, to use one of the favored words of the Manifesto’s authors, the health of the land from the long term health of those who are dependent upon this land.

Sure, you can steal from the land to build a city and a navy, and use that city and navy to conquer more land. Sure, you can continue on a path of expansion across the globe, cutting down forests and draining wetlands and damming rivers and making dead zones in oceans and extirpating nonhumans and stealing land from Indigenous peoples who were living there sustainably, so long as there are always new forests to cut down, new prairies to convert to croplands (and then to wastelands).

So long as there are new frontiers to violate and exploit, new places to conquer and steal from (sorry, ‘remake’) you can continue to overshoot carrying capacity and destroy the planet. And in the meantime, you can build a hell of a big city and a hell of a big name for yourself. But you should never pretend that can be sustainable.

The authors ask, “Given that humans are completely dependent on the living biosphere, how is it possible that people are doing so much damage to natural systems without doing more harm to themselves?”

I keep thinking about what might be the internal and social experience of bacteria on a petri dish. At some point, a few of the bacteria might say, “There are limits to how much we can grow. Do you think we should start planning on how to live here sustainably?”

Others respond, “Things have never been better. If we just keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll create not only a good but great bacteriocene!”

The naysayers again point out that the petri dish is finite. They’re shouted down by the optimists, who say, following the authors of An Ecomodernist Manifesto, “To the degree to which there are fixed physical boundaries to … consumption, they are so theoretical as to be functionally irrelevant.”

The Ecomodernist bacteria insist that what’s really necessary is to decouple (one of their favorite words, too) their own well-being from that of the petri dish. This discussion flourishes until the end, when the ‘remade’ petri dish can no longer support life.

The industrial monoculture diet – you call that ‘rich’?

I briefly want to point out one more explicit lie, and one more false conceit. The explicit lie is, “The average per-capita use of land today is vastly lower than it was 5,000 years ago, despite the fact that modern people enjoy a far richer diet.”

First, ‘average per-capita use of land’ is a ridiculous measure of ecological or social health. The point of life is not, as the Bible suggested, to “go forth and multiply.” The point is not, to move this to the 21st century, to project capitalism’s definition of success onto the real world and try to ‘get large or get out’.

The point is and always has been the health of the land. A society with fewer members living in a long-term participatory, mutual relationship with the land is a far better measure of ecological and social health than is how much land each person requires.

A sane culture would figure out how many people a piece of land can permanently (and optimally) support, and then make sure they’re below that number. An insane culture would overshoot carrying capacity and then consider itself superior because it (temporarily) supports more people per square mile.

But that’s not even the main lie, which is the absurd claim that “modern people enjoy a far richer diet.” Right now just three plants – rice, wheat, and millet – provide 60% of humans’ food energy intake, and 15 plants provide 90%. Further, the provision of these foods is increasingly controlled by large corporations: four corporations control 75% of the world grain market. We can make similar statements about other food markets.

In contrast, the diet of hunter gatherers routinely included scores or hundreds of varieties of plants, plants not controlled by distant corporations. This is crucial, because if those in power can control a people’s food supply they can control their lives, which means they can force them to work for the elites: so much for the ‘freedom’ of this new ‘remade’ world.

And then there’s the fact that no one can anymore eat passenger pigeons, Eskimo curlews, great auks, or any of the other food staples this culture has caused to go extinct in its great remaking. And these days with the best tasting fish generally having been driven (at least commercially) extinct, increasingly corporations are selling what were once considered ‘trash fish’ as luxuries. All of this is one reason the corporate press is increasingly praising insects as food: we’ve either destroyed or are destroying other foodstocks.

So it’s simply a lie to say modern diets are richer.

Human and planetary health are inseparable – like it or not

And finally, for the primary conceit of the Manifesto, which is that the world can be ‘remade’ without destroying it. Let’s test their thesis. Name five biomes that have been managed for extraction – ‘remade’, to use their term – by this culture that have not been significantly harmed on their own terms.

Okay, let’s try four.

Three?

Two?

Okay, name one.

It can’t be done. Over the past several thousand years, this culture hasn’t managed for extraction a single biome without significantly harming it.

They say one sign of intelligence is the ability to recognize patterns. How stupid must our claims to virtue make us if we cannot recognize this pattern, with an unbroken string of failures running several thousand years and at this point literally covering the entire planet, from the deserts of Iraq to the garbage patches in the oceans to the melting icecaps to the dammed and polluted rivers?

Of course if your goal is to ‘remake’ the world to create luxuries for yourself, and if you don’t care that this ‘remaking’ destroys life on the planet, then you might not consider this to be a consistent pattern of failure. You may consider this a great success. Which in and of itself is pretty stupid.

Out of the more than 450 dead zones in the oceans – caused by this culture’s ‘remaking’ of the planet – only one has recovered. It’s in the Black Sea. It recovered not because humans ‘decoupled’ themselves from the earth, but rather because humans were forced to ‘decouple’ themselves from empire.

The Soviet Union collapsed, and this collapse made it so agriculture was no longer economically feasible in the region. In other words, humans could no longer ‘remake’ the world in that place. And the world, or rather, that one small part of the world, began to recover.

The authors of An Ecomodernist Manifesto have it completely backwards. For several thousand years this nature-hating culture has tried as hard as it can to define itself as other than nature. It has tried to separate itself from nature, to pretend it is not of nature. To pretend it is above nature, better than nature. That what it creates is more important than what nature creates. It has tried to pretend that it is not dependent on nature.

If we wish to continue to live on this planet, we need to recognize and remember that it is our only home and that we are dependent upon this planet, and that this dependence is a very good thing.

Far from attempting to ‘decouple’ our well-being from that of the planet – which this culture has been trying to do for a few thousand years now, to the detriment of everyone this culture encounters – we need to recognize and remember that our own well-being has always been intimately dependent on the health of the planet.

And those of us who care about life on the planet must stop those who are currently remaking – read, killing – this planet that is our only home.

The Castle Rock Prairie Dogs are Gone: Open Letter from an Exile

What follows is an essay from a Deep Green Resistance member. Perhaps this Open Letter serves as an epitaph for the Castle Rock Prairie Dog community, as well as a call to act. We welcome all those who would stand up in defense of the living.

 

Open Letter
From an Exile:

I wore this shirt, long-sleeved, multi-patterned, funky, well tailored hand-me-down for almost every day I worked on the prairie dog relocation at the “Promenade” site in Castle Rock Colorado.

The “Promenade” site was only that in the avaricious life-sucking minds of the capitalist pig developers. The “site” was really a scrap of prairie community, a last survivor already lacerated by monstrous earth movers, surrounded by apartments, highway, box stores, a mall, parking lots —– anti life.

The shirt faded faded under the intensity of the high-altitude sun. The shirt was embroidered with the words, “Knowledge Wisdom Truth” on the button facing.

I don’t know why.

My camp hat was also a constant part of my attire for those five arduous weeks. A grubby white canvas cloth wide brim decorated in black permanent marker with free-hand representations of dragonflies and guitars. The art was gifted on a happy Folks Festival afternoon by a daughter long sense grown.

Perhaps it was this shirt, and my camp hat – that made the sight of this human so familiar that – on the last day of my participation in the relocation, a sweet bird trusted my presence enough to land on my hat while it was on my head. I will never forget the sensation.

I think it is the greatest compliment I have ever or will ever receive. It will eternally break my heart for I have yet to live up to that trust.

Every step I took upon this scarred, tragically doomed prairie home, now extinct, was a step into the sacred. There are no words to describe her smell, her touch, her sounds, the beat of her heart, the soils the stones, the animals, the birds the bones, the plants in and out of flower. Paradise opened every day just by looking down up around. I am crying as I write this.

We saved most of the Castle Rock Prairie Dogs that survived the holocaust, the fumigation. Some would not leave. No matter how we tried to trap them, to flush them out, they would not be captured. They died on the land of their ancestors when the earth-movers came and obliterated billions of living beings and their infinity of wondrously woven relationships, spun through timeless time and loving trust.

All dead. In the void created the psychopaths are constructing a mall, more and more insatiable life sucking monstrosities following atrocities.

The prairie dogs we relocated are no longer prairie dogs. They inhabit a mountain meadow, in peace. Perhaps they are becoming meadow dogs, weaving new relationships in a new land. They are refugees of the War on Earth.

I was paid for the work that I did and the source of that money was the developer.

It was a band of beautiful women who did the relocation work, who sacrificed so much, loved completely and are wounded deeply.

Some of us could not stop gathering. I was one who compulsively collected stones and bones and feathers, wood and, in the beginning, flowers and herbs to press and burn. They seemed to be calling to me. I was trying to find the answer to a mystery.

Surely somewhere, in such abundance there must be the key to continuing her existence? Surely the beauty and story of any bit of this land could awaken even the most callous heart and save the community?

I know better; psychopaths have no heart. For the most part, humans are already deluded and dead, slaves to machines, servants to destruction. Who are you? How dare you!

Now all I have is a pile of stones and bones, feathers and wood, flowers dried flat and a certainty that this love, this immersion in Prairie gave me. I can wake up and be a whole human.

I am now in exile from Life in Alabama. On the way I stopped to pray at the Witchaphi Wall. I left a blood red stone from that Prairie Home in that sacred place. I offered prayer for the salvation of Prairie Life and a prayer for human redemption in service of Earth.

The song, “A Feather’s Not a Bird” came to Rosanne Cash as she sat with the Witchaphi Wall.

The Chorus:

“A feather’s not a bird,
The rain is not the sea,
A stone is not a mountain
But a river runs through me”

There are also these lines in her song:

“There’s never any highway when you’re looking for the past.
The land becomes a memory and it happens way to fast.”

 

I am in exile, from communities of Life, but not for long. We are rapidly approaching no return, there will be no communities of Life to return to. We will go extinct with them.

There is no point in running away. There is nowhere to run to that has not been marked for destruction.

Nothing left to do,
But defend the land, and let the river run though me.

And You?

Jennifer Murnan
8/2/15

Water: Southwest Coalition Statement of Commitment and Call for Allies

            Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over. —Mark Twain

More than any other area of North America, the Southwest faces water shortages just as demands for water increase. These colliding forces are inevitable products of industrial civilization. Deep Green Resistance chapters across the Southwest recognize the imminent catastrophe. We view the protection of ground and surface water, and the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights to their water and landbase, as critically important. We declare water preservation and justice as our primary focus.

Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition is a confederation of DGR action groups located in the southwest region of North America. While each group focuses on ecological and social justice issues specific to their region, as a Coalition we work together to reinforce each group’s efforts. Our members include:

Deep Green Resistance Colorado Plateau

Deep Green Resistance Sonoran

Deep Green Resistance Colorado

Deep Green Resistance Great Basin

Deep Green Resistance Chaparral

Great Basin Spring, Goshute Reservation

Great Basin Spring, Goshute Reservation

The Increasingly Arid Southwest

The region is among the driest areas in the world. The southwest receives only 5-15 inches of rainfall a year[1] and nearly all climate models predict an increase in both aridity and flooding with global warming.[2] As increasing temperatures force the jet stream further north and more surface water is evaporated (notably in desert reservoirs like Lake Powell where an average 860,000 acre-feet of water—about 8 percent of the Colorado River’s annual flow—is lost every year),[3] overall precipitation is decreasing even as summer storms paradoxically become more intense. And there is no margin of safety from which civilization can draw—the Colorado River, for example, is already fully allocated; all the water is claimed.[4]

Agriculture is far and away the largest water consumer: California’s Imperial Irrigation District consumes 3.1 million acre-feet of Colorado River water every year, compared to the rest of Southern California, which gets only 1.3 million.[5] Large amounts of water are also used for oil and gas drilling—an estimated 100,000 gallons per fracked well[6]—and coal mining and burning.

 

Ken Dewey, climate.gov

Ken Dewey, climate.gov

The water shortage is already wreaking havoc among wildlife. In California, the drought is partially implicated in the deaths of tens of thousands of native waterfowl. As water sources dry, birds congregate around remaining oases like fountains and irrigation ditches. In such close quarters, disease spreads quickly. Other victims of water scarcity in California include scores of thousands of bark beetle-killed trees—so much so that these results “herald a region in ecological transition.”[10] Unsurprisingly, 2015 is among the worst California fire seasons ever.This year, twelve western states declared drought emergencies.[7] On April 25, 2015, the largest US reservoir, Lake Mead, dropped to an historic low of 1,080 feet. That record surpassed the previous low set last August; Mead has never been lower since it was filled in the 1930s.[8] These conditions are unlikely to improve. In spring of 2015, snowpack in the Sierra Mountains measured at just 5 percent of normal.[9]

Desperate Measures

These unprecedented changes are driving ever more desperate and costly projects, such as the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s planned multi-billion-dollar pipeline project in eastern Nevada’s and western Utah’s arid basin and range country. If completed, the project would pump billions of gallons of groundwater to Las Vegas, threatening the Goshute Indian reservation, the livelihoods of ranchers, many rare endemic species, and the land itself.[11]

A proposed California water pipeline may move as much as 7.5 million acre feet of northern California water south a year. It was just revised to include only a third of the originally planned habitat protection, re-allocating water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Situated between California’s wetter north and its dry and populous south, the delta contains one of California’s largest remaining wetlands, home of green sturgeon, steelhead, and endangered Delta smelt.[12] More extreme are plans to siphon off some of Canada’s abundant water to California.[13] As drought and demand continue their increasing arcs, however, these desperate plans for massive water transfers become more acceptable to many.

The Only Sane Response

The government-industry axis takes water from the less powerful, regardless of any natural rights such groups may have.[14] This cannot continue, not even beyond the very short term. When the unstoppable force of increasing demand for water—continuing without limit—meets the immovable object of shrinking water supplies, environmental devastation and injustice swiftly follows.

DGR Southwest Coalition supports any protective or restorative action for ground and surface water, including the removal of dams and reservoirs by any means necessary. At the same time, we advocate for and support the dismantling of the systems (capitalism specifically and industrial civilization generally) as the only strategic way to safeguard the planet, and to keep it from degrading into a barren, lifeless husk. These are daunting tasks, no doubt, even if we limit our focus to the southwest; and yet, it’s a critical calling for all of us who care for life and justice.

We are reaching out to others who also view water protection and justice as values worth fighting for. For example, preserving instream flows (what’s left in a stream channel after other allocations) and groundwater protection—from fracking, from water mining, from surface contamination. We offer whatever expertise and resources we can muster, and all the passion we have, for our landbase. We’re ready to work with those who struggle with these problems; we’re also ready to take on whatever role is necessary in support of their fights.

This fight should be shared. Please contact us so we can network with you in pursuit of water, justice, and life.

swcoalition@deepgreenresistance.org

[1] C. Daly, R.P. Neilson, and D.L. Phillips, 1994. “A statistical-topographic model for mapping climatological precipitation over mountainous terrain,” J. Appl. Meteor., 33(2), 140-158, as displayed in http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/pcpn/westus_precip.gif

[2] Melanie Lenart, “Precipitation Changes,” Southwest Climate Change Network, September 18, 2008,  http://www.southwestclimatechange.org/node/790#references

[3] “Glen Canyon Dam,” Wikipedia, accessed December 10, 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Canyon_Dam. An acre-foot is about 325,853 US gallons.

[4] Brett Walton, “In Drying Colorado River Basin, Indian Tribes Are Water Dealmakers,” Circle of Blue, July 1, 2015, http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2015/world/in-drying-colorado-river-basin-indian-tribes-are-water-dealmakers/

[5] Tony Perry, “Despite drought, water flowing freely in Imperial Valley,” Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-drought-imperial-valley-20150412-story.html

[6] Rory Carroll, “Fracking In California Used 70 Million Gallons Of Water In 2014,” Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/02/fracking-california-water_n_6997324.html

[7] Elizabeth Shogren, “Senate considers legislation to help the West store and conserve water,” High Country News, June 3, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/california-farmers-fear-irrigation-water-will-go-to-salmon-instead

[8] Sarah Tory, “Canadian water for California’s drought?” High Country News, April 28, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/could-canadas-water-solve-californias-drought-1

[9] Ben Goldfarb, “Fowl play: California’s drought fingered in bird deaths,” High Country News, April 2, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/fowl-play-californias-drought-fingered-in-bird-deaths

[10] Keith Schneider, “California Fire Danger Mounts in Sierra Nevada Forests,” Circle of Blue, July 10, 2015, http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2015/world/as-california-drought-rebalances-sierra-forests-fire-danger-mounts/

[11] Stephen Dark, “Last Stand: Goshutes battle to save their sacred water,” Salt Lake City Weekly, May 9, 2012, http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-35-15894-last-stand.html?current_page=all

[12] Kate Schimel, “Gov. Brown slashes Sacramento Delta environmental protection,” High Country News, May 7, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/gov-jerry-brown-slashes-delta-environmental-protection

[13] Sarah Tory, “Canadian water for California’s drought?” High Country News, April 28, 2015, http://www.hcn.org/articles/could-canadas-water-solve-californias-drought-1

[14] Ed Becenti, “Senate Bill 2109 Seeks to Extinguish Navajo and Hopi Water Rights,” Native News Network, April 4, 2012, http://www.nativenewsnetwork.com/senate-bill-2109-seeks-to-extinguish-navajo-and-hopi-water-rights.html