July was the hottest month in America ever recorded. It's been in the 100s more times than I can count, the Platte river is full of fish bones, we've bad 1/3" of rain in July, and I saw a zombie downtown. Have some temp and drought maps.
What I've really been awakened to lately, especially as I research the memoir, is just how blind and stupid and stupid and stupid we are. Have it all now and suffer hard later, or get smart now while discovering new ways to live which means some amount of sacrifice. I'm thinking big agriculture, how farmers carved up 24 million acres of land (map) in the last four years--marginal lands, prairies, marshes, woods--for more money. Cash that's guaranteed to them whether the crop grows or not. Farm subsidies are killing us. The American public gives farmers twice what farmers pay in insurance premiums, so there's no risk to planting water-loving corn on the high plains where it's supposed to be dry. And we over produce corn anyway. Sure don't need it for making ethanol, which uses almost as much energy to make as it will provide in your car (switchgrass would be far more sustainable as an ethanol source).
But what about corn for feeding the world? We produce so much corn that it's cheaper for people in Africa to import it than grow it on their own. You can teach a man to fish, or send him fish via FedEx. I spent last week driving along I-80 and in farm fields to see 90% of center pivots spraying water, taking that moisture from streams, ponds, and the quickly vanishing Ogallala aquifer, the largest freshwater underground ocean in the world that's lost 200' in the last century.
We need to take better care of the Plains. We need less monoculture and more crop rotation. We need to avoid a farming bubble like that of the housing crisis. We need to preserve resources unless we truly despise our bratty little kids. Yesterday I read the perfect article outlining all of the above, and saying we won't lose anything at all by being proactive about our farming practices.
You can't count on government to look out for our best interests. I don't know how to change anything--maybe that's me feeling angry and hopeless, or even lazy. Sometimes I feel like there are so many causes I can't pick one, if I were to devote myself to one completely. Ultimately, who you vote for president doesn't matter, or into most any federal office. They are bought and paid for by big companies and their lobbyists. We aren't informed about what's really going on, about how our decisions trickle up to the highest levels, maybe because we don't care or because the a/c just feels too good right now on the couch. My neighbors water their brown lawn every morning and it isn't getting greener--should they be fined the $500 and 6 months in prison for breaking the watering ban? Should companies be taxed for CO2 emissions that are likely contributing to the drought? Should all the foam cornheads be burned?
I guess I woke up feeling "liberal." I consider myself moderate because no one has the right solutions. I'm not an activist. I don't like crowds. I'm not an extrovert so I feel limited in what I'm capable of doing. But I can write. I can scream here, because if I screamed downtown I'd be arrested or put into a straight jacket. I'm CrAzY. I could wear a corncob hat and paint "Corn is Murder" across it. Because I'm beginning to think corn is murder--it's intensive to grow, destroys habitat (new fields, unknown gmo effects, spraying), corn fattens our beef and then us, the ethanol it produces is a joke fuel, high fructose corn syrup is doing god knows what to our bodies and brain synapses and fetal development. What we really need is a $60 million dollar high school football stadium.