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Eat the rich…

18 April 2007

Global warming isn’t just for polar icecaps.  It’s going to have a profound effect on those of us along the border, especially in the Chihuahua Desert, which always has been a kind of unforgiving climate, even in the best of times. 

Those cranks living out in the hills around here (and the Mennonite farmers on the other side of the river) may have the right ideas, but how long they’ll be able to hold out when the water dries up (or … more likely… it becomes another exploitable resource) is questionable.  At least we don’t have a lot of people out here on the Texas/Chihuahua border.  On the other hand…

 Mike Davis, Global Warming Hits Southwest (The Nation, 16-April 2007)

As water becomes more expensive, the burden of adjustment to the new climatic and hydrological regime will fall on subaltern groups like farmworkers (jobs threatened by water transfers), the urban poor (who could easily see water charges soar by $100 to $200 per month), hardscrabble ranchers (including many Native Americans) and, especially, the imperiled rural populations of Northern Mexico.

Indeed, the ending of the age of cheap water in the Southwest — especially as it may coincide with the end of cheap energy — will accentuate the region’s already high levels of class and racial inequality as well as drive more emigrants to gamble with death in dangerous crossings of the border deserts. (It takes little imagination, moreover, to guess the Minutemen’s future slogan: “They are coming to steal our water!”)

Conservative politics in Arizona and Texas will become even more envenomed and ethnically charged, if that is possible. The Southwest is already sown everywhere with violent nativism and what can only be described as proto-fascism: In the droughts to come, they may be the only seeds to germinate.

As Jared Diamond points out in his recent bestseller Collapse, the ancient Anasazi did not succumb simply to drought but rather to the impact of unexpected aridity upon an over-exploited landscape inhabited by people little prepared to make sacrifices in their “expensive lifestyle.” In the last instance, they preferred to eat one another.

Sopa Azteca, anyone?


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