Just Go Away! (Trump)

The Former Grifter-in-Chief Won’t Disappear Like a Respectable Ex-President Should

It’s no good trying to ignore Donald Trump.

He keeps popping up in the news. The stories reflect more his insults and influence-bending than actual guidance for the country, more about legal problems than help on getting people vaccinated, say, and more about his fund-raising even as he continues to pump money from those efforts into his private businesses.

Trump may have proved right about one thing. Love or hate aside, we have trouble quitting him.

So, even as efforts continue to reconcile unethical deeds over time and pundits seek to find signs of declining reign over willing Republicans, with $100 million in the bank Trump continues to be the would-be next candidate for president.

Trump keeps coming on, twisting truth or actual events for convenience and letting even friends and allies fall by the wayside on his way to the never-ending spotlight.

Some see as bad signs for Trump an election loss in Texas of his designated candidate and the pending Joe Biden victory of winning bipartisan support for an infrastructure bill that Trump never could get passed.

“The weakness Trump showed this week is real, but it isn’t new. His power over the GOP has always been limited: As president he often found himself balked on policy by congressional Republicans, and his impressive endorsement record reflects a lot of cautious winner-picking, not aggressive movement-building,” says New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.

Even as New York prosecutors are cornering Trump on fraud charges, even as new disclosures show more outrageous attempts to use the Justice Department for his personal political ends, as new orders show he must share his taxes with Congress, Trump keeps coming. He continues twisting truth or actual events for convenience and letting even friends and allies fall by the wayside on his way to the never-ending spotlight.

Again and Again

He is the new Old Faithful.

Among the week’s Trump tally:

  • Undermining Election Results: “Just Say the Election Was Corrupt and Leave the Rest to Me and the Republican. congressmen,” Trump told Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in January, according to notes of the near-daily conversations with Trump disclosed by The Times. Though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so that Trump and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the election results, Trump told him, though this weekend, Trump insisted that “overturn” means “guaranteeing election integrity.” Whatever translation from truth you want to accept, Trump crossed another big line trying to bully the Justice Department in violation of every ethical, governmental, maybe even legal interpretation available. To anyone but Team Trump, bad news.
  • Surrendering Tax Filings. The Justice Department said the Treasury Department must turn over Trump’s tax returns to congressional investigators on the House Ways and Means Committee as part of its review of the Internal Revenue Service’s presidential audit program. The Trump administration stymied the request for years and the committee sued to obtain the documents. Still, it was an unusual victory, however it turns out, for Truth in Government, since present Attorney General Merrick Garland continues to surprise all with how reluctant he is proving to be in demanding that Trump officials own up to legal abuses of the last administration.

“I am not going to look backward,” Garland has said, in interviews that are deeply unsatisfying to Democrats, government watchdogs and anyone who wants catharsis after four years of Trump’s insistence on his ‘absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,’ as he put it to The New York Times in 2017,” notes The Washington Post Magazine.

“Those voices are calling for investigations of the politicization of the department under Trump, a public reckoning of the damage done, the spectacle of heads rolling. They speak of ‘truth commissions’ and ‘de-Trumpification.’ That is how you restore confidence in the institution, they say.”

  • A subpoena to the Jan. 6 investigation is looming, says The Post, among others, for Trump to give an accounting of his role in amassing, inciting and failing to stop the rioting at the U.S. Capitol. It’s a tricky thing to require Trump’s testimony, if the committee can sidestep executive privilege claims without having to go to court, because it gives Trump the ultimate platform for repeating his election rigging nonsense. But it also represents testimony under oath, and that is something Trump never wants to do, any more than his acolytes among Republican members of Congress. The number of open questions about Trump’s role continues to increase.
  • Meanwhile, Big Steal rolls along, amid widening reports that the Arizona re-count or re-creation of Election Day in Mariposa County is a sham, with even Republican sponsors in that state fleeing before final creative writing reports are being produced in secret. The continuing theme is that unless Cyber Ninjas makes it all up, there was little to sustain a turnaround in vote counts. Still, the efforts to do similar audits are moving to Michigan, where Republicans seem quite torn about it, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Trump troops are going door to door asking people how they voted, as if that is somehow OK. But daily, we’re hearing about Republican punishments for anyone veering from the Trump fraud line.
  • Following the Money. Yes, Federal Election Commission reports confirm that Trump’s fund-raising efforts have topped $100 million for the last six months, though the Trump spending reports have gotten less attention. Money from the several Political Action Committees for Trump are sending payments to Trump properties for meetings and housing, reports The Post, with one PAC paying Trump $68,000 during the same time period. Since Trump entered the presidential race in June 2015, he has used his political campaigns and associated committees to pump more than $19 million into his own businesses, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign-finance records. The Post also reported that it could not find evidence that Trump donated his last six months of salary, as pledged, nor his ample pension. The perception of Trump as a grifter also continues unabated.
Not Leaving

Still, none of the fictionalizing seems to halt seeing Trump presenting himself as if he actually still is president, any more than persistent legal and business problems. His supporters remain most comfortable blaming others for any negative news and keep faith with their idea of an iconoclastic bull in the china shop of intellectualism.

Former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reported this week without explanation that Trump’s “Cabinet” of advisers were meeting with him at the Trump Bedminster, N.J. golf resort, as if it were a shadow presidency interested in anything other than promoting Trump.

The MAGA rallies are back, if a tad more subdued, the insult machine is alive and well, cranking out criticism for a lengthening list of enemies and the hints of an announced re-play of the election mix with the constant reporting about whether Pillow Talk Guy has identified another day in which magically Trump ousts Biden as a legitimate election winner.

I’d be happy never to see Trump again in any form, but we’re not even close.

Terry H. Schwadron retired as a senior editor at The New York Times, Deputy Managing Editor at The Los Angeles Times and leadership jobs at The Providence (RI) Journal-Bulletin. He was part of a Pulitzer Gold Medal team in Los Angeles, and his team part of several Pulitzers in New York. As an editor, Terry created new approaches in newsrooms, built technological tools and digital media. He pursued efforts to recruit and train minority journalists and in scholarship programs. A resident of Harlem, he volunteers in community storytelling, arts in education programs, tutoring and is an active freelance trombone player

Starving cows. Fallow farms. The Arizona drought is among the worst in the country

Starving cows. Fallow farms. The Arizona drought is among the worst in the country

Casa Grande, Arizona-July 21, 2021- Nancy Caywood stands beside the corn that her son Travis Hartman farms using leased land that has water rights. The family hopes the profit from the corn (feed) will help pay the taxes and water dues they own on their own land Caywood Farms. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angels Times)
Nancy Caywood stands beside the corn that her son Travis Hartman farms using leased land that has water rights. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


The cotton’s gone.
The alfalfa barely exists.

“Can you even call this a farm?” asked Nancy Caywood, standing on a rural stretch of land her Texas grandfather settled nearly a century ago, drawn by cheap prices and feats of engineering that brought water from afar to irrigate central Arizona’s arid soil.

The canals that used to bring water to the fields of Caywood Farms have gone dry due to the drought.
The canals that used to bring water to the fields of Caywood Farms have gone dry due to the drought. In Arizona, 99% of the land is undergoing a years-long drought. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


On the family’s 247 acres an hour south of Phoenix, Caywood grew up tending to cotton and alfalfa, two water-intensive crops that fed off melted mountain snows flowing from a reservoir 120 miles away. She grew up understanding the rhythms of the desert and how fields can blossom despite a rugged, sand-swept terrain where sunlight is a given but water is precious.

Now more than ever. Looking out at her farmland recently, Caywood held back tears.

The eastern Arizona reservoir that provided much of her water was drying up, leaving empty the canals and ditches that surround her property. Bigger-than-usual summer rains did not prove ample to rescue dead fields. The drought was at her door.

Across the U.S. West, shifting climate patterns are wreaking havoc. An early start to fire season is scorching rural Oregon and parts of Northern California. Record temperatures have led to deaths of hundreds of residents of Seattle and Portland, Ore. Lake Mead, the massive Colorado River reservoir outside Las Vegas, is at its lowest point since its 1935 federal construction, threatening water supplies to Arizona, Southern California, Nevada and Mexico.

Saguaros, which are native to the desert, are still susceptible to damage under extreme conditions.
Saguaros, which can naturally withstand drought better than non-native plants, are still susceptible to damage under extreme conditions. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


In Arizona, 99% of the land is undergoing years-long drought that has accelerated. Large swaths of the region are now in extreme distress and the picture may well get worse, with less reliable mountain snowfall to feed streams and a morphing monsoon season that has only proved a temporary reprieve and even led to flooding. The state, where more than a third of all water can trace itself up the Colorado River to Lake Mead, will also be forced to make do with less beginning next year because of the lake’s dwindling supply.

“Arizona is pretty much an irrigated state and we’ve managed our water resources generally well,” said Stephanie Smallhouse, a fifth-generation cattle rancher on the far outskirts of Tucson who is the president of the Arizona Farm Bureau. “But it’s near impossible to manage yourself out of a drought.”

The history of Arizona is the history of water. Before European colonizers and American settlers moved in, Indigenous people relied on the Gila, Salt and Verde rivers outside Phoenix. The Colorado River flowed on what’s now the state’s western edge, while snowmelt from New Mexico’s Black Mountain Range formed the Gila River that came from the east to meet the Colorado, creating a lifeline for tens of thousands of subsistence farmers in Native American communities.

But as technological advances led to the construction of dams and reservoirs in the early 20th century to divert rivers for new residents — like Caywood’s grandfather — Native land went fallow, leading to sickness and poverty. As cities such as Tucson and Phoenix and farmlands between them grew over the decades, they were aided by another feat in water engineering when construction on the Central Arizona Project launched in 1973. Today, the intricate canal system carries Colorado River water hundreds of miles from Lake Havasu on the California-Arizona border to taps and irrigation ditches across central Arizona.

The Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct, fed by the Colorado River, runs through Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct, fed by the Colorado River, runs through Scottsdale, Ariz. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


It’s a history that informs who wins and loses amid drought. The state has dozens of irrigation districts that tax customers in exchange for regulating water flow from different sources. The map they form can at times resemble gerrymandered congressional districts, with it not unusual for neighboring farms to get water from canals that lead to mountains and reservoirs in opposite directions.

Longevity also goes into the equation.

“Water policy in Arizona is also rooted in the idea that a person who comes and diverts water for a beneficial use should have higher priority than the next one who comes along if there is a risk for shortage,” said Sarah Porter, the director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University.

When it comes to water, one city or farm is not always equal to the other in the state where the $23-billion agriculture industry uses up more than 70% of irrigated water, a large chunk of it on crops the federal government encourages with subsidies, such as cotton. In central Arizona, city dwellers and tribal lands tend to get first dibs on water before farms. Still, nearly everyone is preparing. Cities are raising water prices. The state is locked in a battle with hundreds of lush golf courses over demands that they cut back on water.

Yuma, a major farming region known as the “Salad Bowl” for growing broccoli, lettuce and leafy greens that are shipped across the country each winter, is in many ways spared. It has priority over water from the nearby Colorado River in part because irrigated agriculture has taken place there for more than a century. Vegetables also need significantly less water than crops that are popular inland.

A worker moves irrigation tubes on a farm in Pinal County.
A worker moves irrigation tubes on a farm in Pinal County. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


It’s farmers in the center of the state who are most worried as shortages loom. Among the hardest-hit are those in Pinal County, a largely rural patchwork of farms and cattle and dairy ranches nestled between Phoenix and Tucson where family farmers live alongside exurbs that are rapidly expanding as agriculture recedes.

Along Interstate 10, typically green farms have turned brown, skinny cattle are left with little grass to graze and saguaros lie dead. “For sale” signs advertise desperate owners looking to sell their land at discount for solar power panels and housing developments.

“There’s nothing nefarious about how the water is divided,” said Paul Orme, an attorney who represents several irrigation districts in the county. “But because of agreements that have been negotiated and where these farmers have fell in those, you could see up to 30% of farmland in Pinal County no longer irrigated over the next few years.”

For those like Caywood, that time has already come.

Casa Grande, a city of 55,000 founded in 1879 as a mining town that’s named after a structure built by the ancient Hohokam people, is one of those places at the center of the water crisis. Home to dozens of alfalfa, cotton, wheat and corn farms and as well as dairy and beef ranches, it’s long been sustained by a mix of rains, aquifers and canals drawing on the Colorado River, among other reserves.

Caywood stands in what used to be an alfalfa field.
Caywood stands in what used to be an alfalfa field. It went fallow after her family lost access to irrigated water from the San Carlos reservoir because its water levels were too low. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


The Caywood farm has a different source. When Caywood’s grandfather, Lewis Storey, established it in 1930, he agreed to pay for water from canals connected to the San Carlos reservoir 130 miles away. Storey thought the reservoir, formed on the Gila River, would be plentiful for generations with its 19,500 acre-feet supply. An acre-foot covers the amount of water that could seep a foot deep across a football field.

The family had long used that water to grow cotton that made up towels and sheets found in big-box stores. The seeds went separately for cattle feed. Alfalfa was cut and baled for ranches across the Southwest.

This summer, the San Carlos reservoir hit zero acre-feet.

“If you want to eat ice cream, you need people like us growing the feed,” Caywood said recently as she sat in the small, wooden shed on the property where she keeps a digital slideshow of the once-lively green and white fields to show kids who still come by on field trips. All that survived now were old mesquite and cottonwood trees on the edges of the land.

“We’re wiped clean,” Caywood said. “You can’t grow.”

Cattle go up for sale at Marana Stockyards in Marana, Ariz.
Cattle go up for sale at Marana Stockyards in Marana, Ariz. “If you can’t grow grass, you buy it. But the hay is too expensive because there’s less water to grow it and less water expected down the line,” said Clay Buck Parsons, who runs the auction house with his father, Clay Parsons. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Emaciated cattle are often sold at Marana Stockyards.
Emaciated cattle are often sold at Marana Stockyards, which has seen an increase in sales amid the decreased feed availability that the drought has caused. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


An hour south of the the Caywood property at the Pinal County line, the ranchers who show up each week at Marana Stockyards are feeling the trickle-down effects of the drought. The Parsons family has auctioned cattle here for 25 years. Business is picking up.

Dozens of men in cowboy hats and leather boots arrive each Wednesday to watch their bulls, cows and calves sold off. Clay Buck Parsons, a third-generation rancher and auctioneer, ushers cattle into holding pens outside the red barnyard-like building while Parsons’ dad mans a computer as locals in the stands make bids and buyers log in online.

“We’ve sold 12,000 more head this year already than last year,” said Parsons, 29. Most go to Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“You can’t feed the animals without grass,” he said, looking out at dozens of black Angus mother cows whose shoulders and ribs jutted out from grazing on dying fields.

“If you can’t grow grass, you buy it. But the hay is too expensive because there’s less water to grow it and less water expected down the line. So the ranchers are cutting down on their herd to maintain smaller numbers where they can still make a profit.”

Clay Parsons owns Marana Stockyards, which he runs with his son.
Clay Parsons owns Marana Stockyards, which he runs with his son, Clay Buck Parsons. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Rancher Mike Mercer, left, regularly buys and resells cows at Marana Stockyards.
Rancher Mike Mercer, left, regularly buys underweight cows at Marana Stockyards. He feeds them for a few months before reselling them for profit. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


Buck said it costs up to $4 a day per cow for hay, four times more than grazing on grass. The cost of raising beef can be several thousand times more than some vegetables, such as lettuce. But ranchers here said family history — and profits — had until recently seemed worth holding on to.

One of the regulars to come that day was Mike Mercer. At 54, he has been ranching since his teens. For many years, his land in Mammoth, a village of 1,650, provided for 700 mother cows. Now, he can’t have more than 100 at a time as grass disappears.

“You can’t run cattle. It’s just — everything’s gone,” Mercer said. “A lot of guys are switching into copper mining or welding or trucking.”

These days, Mercer buys skinny, sickly cows, feeds them for a few months on hay in a covered feedlot, and resells them at a profit. On that day, he sold 88 to buyers in Texas and Oklahoma.

The Parsons family's auction house has sold 12,000 more cows this year than last year.
The Parsons family’s auction house has sold 12,000 more cows this year than last year. Many ranchers can no longer afford to feed their cattle because of the drought. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


A Christian who believes God is responsible for the drought, he prayed for a change.

“You just keep saying we can’t have another year this bad and then we have another year even worse…. Leave it in God’s hands. Because I don’t know what else to do. You pray for rain. Oh, God, yeah. Pray for rain.”

Caywood, a former farming teacher at the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources Division in El Centro, Calif., also questions those who say climate change is to blame for her struggles.

I don’t believe in it. I believe things are cyclical. But I can’t believe that it’s happening so quickly,” said Caywood, who has a master’s degree in agricultural education.

Nancy Caywood, left, and her grandson Thomas Hartman, age 14.
Nancy Caywood, left, and her grandson Thomas Hartman, 14, stand at the office of Caywood Farms. Hartman is learning to farm, raising steer and chickens. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


Her son, Travis, built a home on the farm where he lives with two sons. She is thankful that he has continued in the family tradition. But she is more thankful that he is also a firefighter and EMT, a job that provides a stable income. Her `14-year-old grandkids Thomas and Cameron are learning to farm, raising steer and chickens. She has encouraged them but also told them to consider backup plans.

In the good years, the farm would easily make tens of thousands of dollars in profits, more than enough to cover $22,000 in annual property taxes. This year, Caywood, who had hoped to retire, may dip into savings to cover the bill.

Recently, her son leased two 80-acre plots in different irrigation districts that have access to canal water from the Colorado River. Just a few miles from Caywood Farms, corn stalks reach 5 feet into the air. They’ll be chopped up for dairy cow feed.

The family didn’t want more farming land but found it necessary to cover the taxes on its dying historic property.

Except there’s one problem.

Because of the drought, Arizona will have 18% less water from the Colorado River next year. Farms like Caywood’s son’s will be hit hardest because of rules governing how water is divided in the state.

"We have no cotton. It's gone. It's dead. The alfalfa barely exists," Caywood said.
“We have no cotton. It’s gone. It’s dead. The alfalfa barely exists,” Caywood said. She may be forced to use her savings to cover taxes on the farm, which isn’t making money anymore. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


“It seems there’s really no way out of drought,” Caywood said the other week, browsing old photos of her parents and son standing by cotton bales.

Sometimes, she felt as though it wasn’t just a farm but a family and way of life slipping away. Her father, Tommy, died in January at 98. Her 94-year-old mother, Sammie, was in and out of the hospital.

All around her, farms were disappearing. Next door, the Wuertzes sold much of theirs for solar panels. Down the street, an abandoned construction project stood where alfalfa once grew. Caywood had gotten offers from buyers too. She rejected them.

She looked at the barren fields where her grandfather taught her how to examine the changing color of a cotton blossom to tell where the plant was in its life span. She thought back to when water flowed freely in the dried-up irrigation canals where she would sneak away to swim as a kid.

Days like those seemed long gone. She prayed for them to come back again.

Our leaders look climate change in the eyes, and shrug

Our leaders look climate change in the eyes, and shrug

<span>Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock


If you have cultivated an Edgar Allen Poe-like appreciation for the macabre, there is a certain sort of amusement to be had in watching the developed world deal with the insistent onslaught of climate change. Like many horror stories, this one features a main character full of futile determination to maintain a sense of normalcy even as the ominous signs of doom become ever more impossible to ignore. We can chuckle knowing that the monster is going to come for our designated protectors. We stop chuckling knowing that it’s coming for all of us next.

Related: Wildfire fighters advance against biggest US blaze amid dire warnings

It is easy to imagine that a real live existential threat to our way of life would prompt any society to assume war footing and marshal everything it has to fight for survival. Unfortunately, this response only takes hold in actual war situations, where the threat is “other people that we can shoot and kill in glorious fashion”. When the threat comes not from enemy people, but from our own nature, we find it much harder to rise to the occasion. Where is the glory in recognizing the folly of our own greed and profligacy? Leaders are not elected on such things. We want leaders who will give us more, leading us ever onwards, upwards and into the grave.

The latest demonstration of this comes from the G20, that coalition that is as good a proxy as any for the combined will of the world’s richest countries. The latest G20 meeting wrapped up last week without firm commitments on phasing out coal power, or on what steps nations will promise to take to try to hold global warming to 1.5C. This goal is both necessary and, perhaps, unlikely – a report by scientists found that China, Russia, Brazil and Australia are all pursuing policies that could lead to a cataclysmic five degrees of warming.

The G20 is a perfect model of our collective failure to build institutions capable of coping with deep, long-term, existential problems that cannot be solved by building more weapons. On the one hand, the head of the United Nations says that there is no way for the world to meet its 1.5C warming goal without the leadership of the G20; on the other hand, a recent analysis found that G20 members have, in the past five years, paid $3.3tn in subsidies for fossil fuel production and consumption. The same group that claims to be bailing out humanity’s sinking ship with one hand is busily setting it aflame with the other hand. It is not good to be too pessimistic on climate change, because we must maintain the belief that we can win this battle if we are to have any hope at all. That said, it sure does seem like we’re screwed.

As overwhelming and omnipresent as the climate crisis is, it is not the core issue. The core issue is capitalism. Capitalism’s unfettered pursuit of economic growth is what caused climate change, and capitalism’s inability to reckon with externalities – the economic term for a cost that falls onto third parties – is what is preventing us from solving climate change. Indeed, climate change itself is the ultimate negative externality: fossil-fuel companies and assorted polluting corporations and their investors get all the benefits, and the rest of the world pays the price. Now the entire globe finds itself trapped in the gruesome logic of capitalism, where it is perfectly rational for the rich to continue doing something that is destroying the earth, as long as the profits they reap will allow them to insulate themselves from the consequences.

Capitalism is a machine made to squeeze every last cent out of this planet until there is nothing left

Congratulations, free market evangelists: this is the system you have built. It doesn’t work. I don’t want to lean too heavily on the touchy-feely, Gaia-esque interpretation of global warming as the inevitable wounds of an omniscient Mother Earth, but you must admit that viewing humanity and its pollution as a malicious virus set to be eradicated by nature is now a fairly compelling metaphor. Homo sapiens rose above the lesser animals thanks to our ability to wield logic and reason, yet we have somehow gotten ourselves to a place where the knowledge of what is driving all these wildfires and floods is not enough to enable us to do anything meaningful to stop it. The keystone experience of global capitalism is to gape at a drought-fueled fire as it consumes your home, and then go buy a bigger SUV to console yourself.

This year, the G20 is patting itself on the back for “[recognizing] carbon pricing as a potential tool to address climate change for the first time in an official communique”. This would have been encouraging 30 years ago, when we should have established a carbon tax after it became clear that carbon emissions cause tangible damage to the environment. In 2021, this sort of diplomatic marginalia is the equivalent of a child on the Titanic proudly showing his parents his completed homework, just as the ship slips beneath the waves.

Of course we need a price on carbon. Of course we need extremely strict emissions regulations, massive green energy investments, and a maniacal focus on sustainability fierce enough to radically change a society that is built to promote unlimited consumption. But, to be honest, there is little indication that we will get those things any time soon. The path we are on, still, is not one that leads to a happy ending. Rather, it is one that leads to the last billionaire standing on dry land blasting off in his private rocket as the rest of us drown in rising seas.

Capitalism is a machine made to squeeze every last cent out of this planet until there is nothing left. We can either fool ourselves about that until it kills us, or we can change it.

  • Hamilton Nolan is a writer based in New York

As drought cuts hay crop, cattle ranchers face culling herds

Associated Press

As drought cuts hay crop, cattle ranchers face culling herds


STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — With his cattle ranch threatened by a deepening drought, Jim Stanko isn’t cheered by the coming storm signaled by the sound of thunder.

“Thunder means lightning, and lightning can cause fires,” said Stanko, who fears he’ll have to sell off half his herd of about 90 cows in Routt County outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado if he can’t harvest enough hay to feed them.

As the drought worsens across the West and ushers in an early fire season, cattle ranchers are among those feeling the pain. Their hay yields are down, leading some to make the hard decision to sell off animals. To avoid the high cost of feed, many ranchers grow hay to nourish their herds through the winter when snow blankets the grass they normally graze.

But this year, Stanko’s hay harvest so far is even worse than it was last year. One field produced just 10 bales, down from 30 last year, amid heat waves and historically low water levels in the Yampa River, his irrigation source.

Some ranchers aren’t waiting to reduce the number of mouths they need to feed.

At the Loma Livestock auction in western Colorado, sales were bustling earlier this month even though its peak season isn’t usually until the fall when most calves are ready to be sold. Fueling the action are ranchers eager to unload cattle while prices are still strong.

“Everybody is gonna be selling their cows, so it’s probably smarter now to do it while the price is up before the market gets flooded,” said Buzz Bates, a rancher from Moab, Utah who was selling 209 cow-calf pairs, or about 30% of his herd.

Bates decided to trim his herd after a fire set off by an abandoned campfire destroyed part of his pasture, curbing his ability to feed them.

Weather has long factored into how ranchers manage their livestock and land, but those choices have increasingly centered around how herds can sustain drought conditions, said Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of natural resources at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“If it rained four inches, there wouldn’t be a cow to sell for five months,” said George Raftopoulos, owner of the auction house.

Raftopoulos says he encourages people to think twice before parting with their cows. Having to replace them later on might cost more than paying for additional hay, he said.

Culling herds can be an operational blow for cattle ranchers. It often means parting with cows selected for genetic traits that are optimal for breeding and are seen as long-term investments that pay dividends.

Jo Stanko, Jim’s wife and business partner, noted her cows were bred for their ability to handle the region’s temperature swings.

“We live in a very specialized place,” she said. “We need cattle that can do high and low temperatures in the same day.”

As the Stankos prepare to shrink their herd, they’re considering new lines of work to supplement their ranching income. One option on the table: offering hunting and fishing access or winter sleigh rides on their land.

The couple will know how many more cattle they’ll need to sell once they’re done storing hay in early September. They hope to cull just 10, but fear it could be as many as half the herd, or around 45 head.

Already, the family sold 21 head last year after a disappointing hay harvest. This year, the crop is even worse.

“With the heat, it’s burning up. I can’t cut it fast enough,” Jim Stanko said of the hay crop.


The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation for coverage of water and environmental policy. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s environmental coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/environment.


Southwest monsoon rain bringing drought relief — but also dangerous flooding

Southwest monsoon rain bringing drought relief — but also dangerous flooding


Monsoon rain in the Southwest is putting a dent in the extreme to exceptional drought across the region, and portions of Arizona and New Mexico are seeing some of the most significant improvements.

Over the next couple of days, the monsoon rain threat will diminish across those states, the National Weather Service said, and focus instead on southern portions of California, Nevada and Utah.

Rain was reported Monday morning in the Los Angeles area.

Although the rainfall helps diminish the drought, it can lead to dangerous floods.

“The heavy rain will create mainly localized areas of flash flooding, with urban areas, roads, and small streams the most vulnerable through Tuesday morning,” the weather service said. In the San Diego area, the weather service warned that “life-threatening debris flows will be possible near recent burn scars.”

Over the weekend, a flash flood swept away a 16-year-old girl in Cottonwood, Arizona. The girl, Faith Moore, who had been trying to cross a flooded road in her car, was missing as of Sunday evening.

“I want to stress again to the public how dangerous these water crossings can be, even when it looks shallow,” Verde Valley fire district chief Danny Johnson said. “A simple decision to cross the road with running water can quickly turn tragic.”

The body of a 4-year-old girl swept away by floodwaters in southeastern Arizona last Thursday was discovered Monday.

And three flood fatalities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last week mark the deadliest flooding event at least in recent memory in Albuquerque, said Lt. Tom Ruiz, a spokesman for Albuquerque Fire Rescue.

Although there was a slight chance for thunderstorms over Northern California and into Oregon, including where some of the nation’s worst wildfires are raging, the threat of lightning strikes and gusty, erratic winds was not good news for firefighters battling the blazes there, the weather service in Sacramento said.

In Arizona, nearly 99% of the state is in some form of drought, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor, which is published each Thursday.

The extent of the drought improved across the Southwest over the past week because of the rain, according to CNN. “The highest level of drought fell from 58% to 36% and marked improvements are expected again this week, with this current burst of monsoon moisture,” the network said.

Though the rain itself is popularly called a “monsoon,” the term scientifically means a seasonal shift in wind direction. In July, winds shift from the usual dry, westerly direction to the south and southeast, which taps into moisture from northern Mexico.

It’s that moisture that contributes to the summer thunderstorms that cause flash flooding. Even a small amount of rain can cause flooding, because it can’t soak into the rock-hard, bone-dry ground. Still, the monsoon provides more than half the annual rainfall to many communities in the Southwest.

The word “monsoon” is derived from the Arabic mausim, meaning “season,” according to the American Meteorological Society. Monsoon season usually runs from July until September in the Southwest.

The Southwest monsoon is not nearly as intense as the Asian monsoon, which often brings catastrophic flooding to India and other nations.

Contributing: Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic; The Associated Press.

German Greens: Preventing climate disasters will be costly

Associated Press

German Greens: Preventing climate disasters will be costly

July 26, 2021


BERLIN (AP) — The Green party candidate hoping to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany’s upcoming election warned Monday that efforts to better prepare the country against climate-related disasters is going to be costly and will require tapping into additional sources of revenue.

Annalena Baerbock, whose party is trailing Merkel’s center-right Union bloc in recent polls, said the Greens want to invest significantly more in prevention “and that will cost money.”


“There’s no beating around the bush: protection against floods, rebuilding cities to make them resilient against climate change costs money,” she told reporters in Berlin.

Baerbock said the proposed measures could be paid for with money generated from carbon taxes or a softening of Germany’s debt rules — an idea the Union bloc has ruled out.

The debate over climate change and its impact on Germany has been fueled by deadly floods that hit the west of the country earlier this month. Experts say such disasters will become more severe and frequent as the planet heats up.

Baerbock also accused the Union bloc’s candidate, Armin Laschet, of having a “muddled” policy on climate change that she claimed “is a threat not just to the security of the people in our country but also to Germany as a location for industry.”

Laschet, who is the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, has struck a more hawkish tone on climate change since the floods that killed at least 180 people in Germany, including almost 50 in his state. But in an interview Sunday with public broadcaster ZDF he rejected calls to bring forward the deadline for ending the use of coal in Germany from 2038 to 2030.

Baerbock said her party will shortly announce a program of urgent climate measures that would be implemented within 100 days if the Greens take office after the Sept. 26 election.

1972 Warning of Civilizational Collapse Was on Point, New Study Finds

1972 Warning of Civilizational Collapse Was on Point, New Study Finds

​A motel sign destroyed by a wildfire in Oregon in 2020.
A motel sign destroyed by a wildfire in Oregon in 2020. The climate crisis is one example of how a 1972 study warning of limits to growth appears correct. ROB SCHUMACHER / POOL / AFP via Getty Images.


In 1972, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists published an alarming prediction: If industrial society continued to grow unchecked, it would exhaust Earth’s resources and lead to civilizational collapse by the middle of the 21st century.

That study, called The Limits to Growth, sparked controversy and concern when it first emerged. But now, new research published in the Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology says we are currently on track to living out its warnings.

“The MIT scientists said we needed to act now to achieve a smooth transition and avoid costs,” Gaya Herrington, the author of the new study, told The Guardian. “That didn’t happen, so we’re seeing the impact of climate change.”

The original Limits to Growth paper used a model called World3 to predict how factors like global population, birth rate, mortality, industrial output, food production, health and education services, non-renewable natural resources and pollution would interact to shape the future. They used the model to show different potential scenarios for the future, some leading to collapse, or a steep decline in social, economic and environmental conditions.

“Given the unappealing prospect of collapse, I was curious to see which scenarios were aligning most closely with empirical data today,” Herrington, who is also sustainability and dynamic system analysis lead at major accounting firm KPMG, said on its website. “After all, the book that featured this world model was a bestseller in the 70s, and by now we’d have several decades of empirical data which would make a comparison meaningful. But to my surprise I could not find recent attempts for this. So I decided to do it myself.”

Herrington found that we are currently closest to two of the original study’s potential futures: BAU2 (business-as-usual) and CT (comprehensive technology). In both of these scenarios, growth would start to decline in about ten years from now. In the BAU2 scenario, Herrington told VICE, this would lead to collapse starting around 2040. In the CT scenario, the decline would be more gradual, leading to what Herrington called “relatively soft landings” in the paper. However, even though the CT scenario does not indicate total collapse, it does still suggest that the status-quo cannot remain in place.

“Both scenarios thus indicate that continuing business as usual, that is, pursuing continuous growth, is not possible,” Herrington wrote in the study.

Neither of these scenarios are locked in place, of course. However, Vice noted that the data indicates policy makers have about 10 years to meaningfully act to change course. Still, Herrington argued in favor of taking that action.

“The key finding of my study is that we still have a choice to align with a scenario that does not end in collapse,” she told The Guardian. “With innovation in business, along with new developments by governments and civil society, continuing to update the model provides another perspective on the challenges and opportunities we have to create a more sustainable world.”

Ultimately, avoiding decline means turning society towards “another goal than growth,” Herrington concluded in the study.

Arizona ER Doctor Visibly Stunned By Video Of Trump Rally: ‘Dangerous And Stupid’

Arizona ER Doctor Visibly Stunned By Video Of Trump Rally: ‘Dangerous And Stupid’


An emergency room doctor described the behavior of the people who attended a crowded, indoor rally for former President Donald Trump as extremely dangerous and stupid amid soaring COVID-19 case rates in the area.

“If you make a dumb decision about your own health, on one level you could say, ‘Well, it’s your life,’” said Dr. Murtaza Akhter, who works on the COVID-19 frontline with Valleywise Health in Phoenix. “But when it’s infectious disease that’s this contagious and affects so many people, you’re not just affecting yourself, you’re affecting everybody around you.”

Akhter made the comments after viewing footage of the packed “Protect Our Election” rally held at the Arizona Federal Theater over the weekend. Thousands of mostly maskless people crowded together as Trump and right-wing figures took the stage to continue his “stolen election” fiction and push anti-mask, anti-science rhetoric.

Footage on CNN showed MAGA merch-clad supporters yelling at the camera, “No masks! No masks! Take off the masks!”

Akhter said he had no doubt that there would be an increase in cases following the event.

In Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, just 42% of people have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. New daily cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks as the highly infectious delta variant rapidly spreads around the state and country, predominantly infecting and causing serious illness to unvaccinated people.

How many years until we must act on climate? Zero, say these climate thinkers

How many years until we must act on climate? Zero, say these climate thinkers


Peter Kalmus: ‘Zero years’

We have zero years before climate and ecological breakdown, because it’s already here. We have zero years left to procrastinate. The longer we wait to act, the worse the floods, fires, droughts, famines and heatwaves will get.

Related: Don’t blame men for the climate crisis – we should point the finger at corporations

The primary cause of these catastrophes is burning fossil fuel. Therefore, we must shut down the fossil fuel industry as quickly as we can. Fossil fuel subsidies must end today. New fracking wells, pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure can no longer be built; that we continue on this path is collective insanity. Fossil fuel must be capped and rationed, and diverted to necessities as we transition to a zero-carbon civilization. If we fail, the planet will continue to heat up, creeping past 1.5C, then 2C, then 3C of global heating as we keep squandering precious time. With every fraction of a degree, the floods and fires and heat will get worse. Coastal cities will be abandoned. Ocean currents will shift. Crops will fail. Ecosystems will collapse. Hundreds of millions will flee regions with humid heat too high for the human body. Geopolitics will break down. No place will be safe. These disasters are like gut punches to our civilization.

There are tipping points lurking in our future, but it’s impossible to know when they will be triggered. What’s certain is that every day we fail to act brings us closer. Some, like the loss of the Amazon rainforest, may already have been passed.

Jennifer Francis: ‘We cannot wait’

We need to immediately stop subsidizing all aspects of the fossil fuel industry. According to this report, the fossil fuel industry received $66bn in 2016, while renewables (excluding nuclear) only received $9.5bn. We should instead use those billions of subsidy dollars to ramp up the renewable energy industry: generation (wind, solar, nuclear), distribution (smarter grid), storage and electric transportation.

If we do not succeed in changing our destructive behavior, the increasing trends in extreme weather, sea levels, government destabilization and human misery will continue and worsen.

Extreme heatwaves, drought, wildfires and flooding events like those we’ve seen in recent summers will become commonplace. Many coastal cities and communities around the globe will be increasingly inundated by high tides and storm surges. Longer, more intense droughts will destroy cropland and force agricultural communities to uproot their families in search of a better life. The devastation of coral reefs around the world will worsen, wiping out fisheries that provide staple protein for millions of people. All of these impacts are happening now. If we don’t act fast, many communities, cultures and species will cease to exist.

  • Jennifer Francis is senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center
Michael Mann: ‘Strictly speaking, zero’

How many years do we have to act? Strictly speaking, zero – which is to say, that we must act, in earnest, now. We have a decade within which we must halve global carbon emissions. As I argue in The New Climate Warthis requires dramatic systemic change: no new fossil fuel infrastructure, massive subsidies for renewables, carbon pricing and deploying other policy tools to accelerate the clean energy transition already under way.

We are seeing unprecedented public awareness, renewed leadership from the US and diplomatic progress with China, the other of the world’s two largest carbon polluters. There is reason for cautious optimism that we can rise to the challenge. But there is much work to do, and precious little time now to do it. We must now choose between two paths as we face our future. One leads to massive suffering and collapse of our civilizational infrastructure. The other leads to a prosperous future for us, our children and grandchildren. But it requires that we leave fossil fuels behind. The choice is ours.

  • Michael E Mann is distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. He is author of the recent bookThe New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back our Planet
Holly Jean Buck: ‘We need action now’

We need to ramp up action now in order to transform all of our major systems by 2050: energy, transportation, industry, agriculture, waste management. We’ll need to eat less meat, farm in ways that store more carbon in the soils, reforest degraded or abandoned land and restore wetlands.

We need to force companies to outfit cement plants and other industrial facilities with carbon capture technologies. When it comes to energy, we need to electrify everything. This means replacing gas-fired heating systems with an electric heat pump in your home and swapping out gas-fired stoves. It means inventing new types of energy storage for those times when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, and getting used to responding to the grid – for example, turning down your air conditioning when the power company says there isn’t enough power (or letting them control your thermostat).

It means shutting down fossil fuel power plants and ramping up wind, solar, geothermal and probably nuclear, as well as building new transmission lines. Our targets should be 60% renewable electricity by 2030, and 90% by 2050. This means tripling renewable installations by 2030, or installing the equivalent of the world’s largest solar farm every day. If those power lines and solar panels look like they are industrializing the landscape, just think about the less visible but deadly costs of the old infrastructure. Fossil fuel combustion was responsible for 8.7m deaths in 2018.

Fossil fuels need to be phased out around the globe. What will people in those industries do? We will need entire new industries in hydrogen and carbon management, industries that turn captured carbon dioxide into fuels and other products as well as store it underground. We can’t just let fossil fuel companies pivot to becoming petrochemical companies, and find ourselves awash in more plastic. We can recycle, use products made from carbon, and innovate new bio-products. It’s not just an energy transition, it’s a materials transition.

And it needs to be global. If we don’t succeed in transitioning away from fossil fuels globally, we could face an uneven world where a few rich countries congratulate themselves for going green, and a few oil producer nations are supplying the rest of the world with dirty fuel, which they use because they don’t have alternatives. In that world, greenhouse gas concentrations keep rising. Climate change exacerbates the risk of war and conflict. It’s hard to measure or model this for exact quantitative projections, but it’s a serious concern. Phasing out fossil fuels, and supporting other countries in exiting fossil fuels, is the best bet for a peaceful future.

Drought-Stressed Chile Is Reining In Its Privatized Water Model

Drought-Stressed Chile Is Reining In Its Privatized Water Model

Alejandra Salgado and Valentina Fuentes           July 28, 2021


(Bloomberg) — Chilean senators approved a decade-old bill to reform the country’s water code, including setting horizons on entitlements and enshrining access as a human right.

In a unanimous vote late Tuesday, lawmakers pushed through a package of changes that include capping currently unlimited water rights at a maximum of 30 years and empowering regulators to suspend rights that aren’t being used or if supplies are at risk. Agriculture accounts for most water consumption in Chile, which is a major exporter of fruit and wine as well as copper and lithium.

Born in the 1980s Pinochet dictatorship, Chile’s water system relies heavily on private enterprise and market forces to allocate rights and deliver services. Water is expected to be one of the topics of discussion among delegates chosen to draft a new constitution as Chile looks to address lingering inequalities amid a decade-long drought exacerbated by climate change.

The package of changes, which still requires votes on individual articles, establishes water as a national good for public use and sets greater protections for supplies in indigenous communities. Private sector holders of water entitlements will be able to obtain extensions if they’re deemed to be making good use of rights.

“This bill reinforces the priority of human consumption and adds priority to safeguard ecosystems,” Public Works Minister Alfredo Moreno said. “It allows us to advance in the task of facing climate change.”