Go ahead a century or two. Change the conquerors from Catholic to Protestant. We know most of the history. It can be summed up by lament that rings down through the centuries that I first heard voiced by the Maori of New Zealand. “When the missionaries came they had the Bible and we had the land. When they were finished we had the Bible and they had the land.”
And in the
States the land was and is still here. But,
the list of what’s missing will break your heart, if you have one that’s
willing to listen. Passenger pigeons, ivory billed woodpeckers, the woods bison, most of the plains bison,
the woods that stretched from what we call New England to the Mississippi. Native tribes either driven to
extinction or onto reservations.
And some reservations are barely that. Most of the land is controlled by non natives on some reservations such as White Earth in
are mostly settled by non natives. The timber rights sold off around the turn
of the last century. Fishing rights are contested between the natives and non
natives. The Everglades are almost gone. The
so far unused Yucca mountain nuclear storage facility is on reservation land. And
the feds didn’t ask first.
Even if the dams in the Columbia/Snake River Basins hadn’t closed off the great salmon runs they’d probably be endangered anyway. The dominant economy has an amazing ability to exploit a resource to the point of near extinction. Most of the great old growth mixed stands of timber in the Northwest are gone. In place of Douglas firs, pines, spruce and hemlocks are monoculture stands of
Douglas firs. Planted
too close together, almost never thinned, sprayed with herbicides and
pesticides Too late we learned that sustainability was a myth and the new woods
And the entitlement culture continues almost unchecked. Move to the desert and expect to have a lawn like you had in
Minnesota. Plow up the desert and plant
crops that require heavy irrigation. In a part of the country that MAY get eight to
ten inches of rain per year the only source is the fossil water of aquifers
like the Ogallala. It’s being pumped out far faster than Creation can replace
it. And now it looks like the last century may have been wetter than usual. If the drought continues the recharge time will take even longer.
Between the sixties and the eighties states like
Texas and California saw the handwriting on the wall
and started looking further afield for new water sources. California
looked towards the Columbia.
It took an act of congress to spike those plans. Fortunately, Washington senators Jackson and Magnuson had enough clout to push through legislation took any possibility of even planning a pipeline from the Columbia to Southern California off the table. Sorry guys but between power plants, irrigation in our states and keeping the river levels high enough for the Port of Portland there's none to spare. And this winter has been much, much drier than usual. As the climate warms, there may be even less to spare.