Tag Archives: oklahoma

Mining’s Legacy – You SURE we want to frack?

Picher, Oklahoma

Mining waste from 20th century lead mining towers over the town of Picher Oklahoma. Or should I say, the FORMER town of Picher, one of an EVER growing list of ghost towns in the U.S., brought about by the short-term greed of humanity.

I had a meeting in Alaska a couple of weeks ago.  I flew from Sioux Falls, to Minneapolis, to Anchorage.  For work, I study land-use and land-cover change, and try to predict what will happen in the future.  So when I fly, I always (try to) get a window seat, and ponder the landscape below.  And, inevitably…it’s depressing. 

What I REALLY find laughable are those climate-change skeptics who seem to use their religious belief as a reason why climate change can’t be real.   A line of thinking for these folks seems to be that man is INCAPABLE of affecting the earth at that scale, that only “god” can do so.  All I have to say to these people…have you ever flown?  Have you ever LOOKED at the landscape below as you fly over?  On my trip, I flew over what some would think is some of the most “wild” landscapes in North America, in Alaska and western Canada.  But this “wild” landscape is anything but.  Clear-cutting of forest means that the once unbroken forests of the West are now a maze of cuts and logging roads.  Flying from Minneapolis over the northern part of the U.S., and you see the vast expanses of grassland that are now solid farm fields.  Fly over a major metropolitan area, and you see endless miles of homes, industry, and roads.

But yet some climate change deniers say humans are incapable of altering the earth’s ecosystem at that scale?  We’ve already forever changed a majority of the earth’s land surface.  That alone would cause climate change, even without the burning of fossil fuels. 

One sight you see ever more frequently when you fly are the effects of mining and energy extraction.  When you’re driving in the West, you see it, but the scale isn’t as readily apparent as it is when you’re flying over.  IN areas with natural gas extraction, when you drive, you may see an individual, small patch of land with a well. When you fly over, you see hundreds upon hundreds of wells, interconnected by a maze of pipes, electrical wires, and roads. 

There’s VERY little that has a more devastating, long-term effect on the landscape than mining.  The New York Times today had a story this week about the area around Picher Oklahoma, and Treece, Kansas, an area where suitability for human habitation has FOREVER been changed.   For the sake of a few decades of short-term financial gain, the lead mining waste in the region has forever altered the landscape, where just TOUCHING the water gives you chemical burns, where every breath of air draws in a dose of lead, where sinkholes from the mining activity may open up and swallow you at any time.

Fracking proponents say the practice is “safe”…despite the practice being VERY new, despite there being VERY little analysis of long-term effects.  Just in the last decade, when technological advances have made fracking economically feasible, people living near fracking activity have ALREADY been impacted by water that is no longer drinkable, and by ruined landscapes.  Once your underground water source has been contaminated by something like this, there’s no going back.  That water source is unlikely to be suitable for human use for many, many centuries to come.

People and their greed.  People and their complete and utter selfishness.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a poacher of wildlife at the small scale or an oil company at the larger scale…ALL people care about are themselves, and their short-term financial well-being. 

The people of Picher, Oklahoma and Treece, Kansas may have a word or two on the effects of such short-term greed.  Two once-thriving urban areas…now ghost towns.

Texas sets all-time record for U.S. State – Hottest Summer Ever

Texas Drought Index

Historic summer heat record. Historic drought. Historic fire season. And still Rick Perry doubts climate change is happening.

They always do things bigger in Texas!  Texas has broken a weather record that has stood for over 75 years.  Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl days of 1934 had the all-time record for a U.S. state for the hottest summer ever.    Texas this summer blew that record away by over a degree and a half (that’s A LOT in climate terms).  Oklahoma’s 1934 record is now 3rd, as Oklahoma this summer also beat that 1934 record.  Louisiana this summer was close behind, and now has the 4th hottest summer record. 

If I were a vindictive person, I might call this karma coming back to bite Rick Perry in the butt, for his continued, idiotic proclamations regarding his disbelief in climate change.

What an amazing year it has been for weather in the U.S.  Besides the heat this summer, some states have had their one of their driest summers ever…and yet others have had their wettest summers ever!!  In April, we also had the biggest tornado outbreak ever recorded.  We had record snowfall in the Rockies this winter, and near-record rainfall in Montana in the Spring, both of which caused record flooding for the Missouri River and other rivers.  

Science predicts more extreme weather as a result of climate change.   Ah, if only Americans gave a damn about science, or even BELIEVED in science any more.