Dispatch from the Kansas Lek Treks Prairie-Chicken Festival
The birds unveiled themselves slowly, first by sound and then by sight. Despite what you might expect from the term, the “booming” call of the greater prairie chicken sounds, in reality, more like a mournful coo. When several chickens let out the call at once, they meld together into a swirling, plaintive chant.
How many times have we seen this drama play out in the last several decades? Every presidential administration wants to fix America’s “crumbling infrastructure” until they discover the business interests profiting from disrepair.
It felt insane leaving our comrades in the ditch like that. In the hands of the police. In the dry and desecrated earth, under the anger and irritation of the police and the workers and hecklers. Treating us like we’re crazy, and useless, and dangerous, too.
On May 29, 2020, the largest fuel storage tank at Norilsk Heat and Power Plant No. 3 (HPP-3) burst at the bottom and spewed 6.5 million gallons of diesel fuel into the Daldykan River. From there it seeped into the Ambarnaya River, Lake Pyasino, the Pyasina River, and finally into the Kara Sea. It was the largest oil spill in Arctic history.
Even the most obsessive water-law wonks among us will admit to the utter incomprehensibility of the system’s minutiae
Today, water law remains largely unchanged, a residually conservative doctrine that disfigures California’s progressive posturing. It’s all still a dizzying maze of pre- and-post-1914 rights claims, made more dizzying by the steady accumulation of niche contractual obligations, bizarre and dubious exceptions, the overlapping roles of roughly hundreds of county water districts and local agencies, and even the private leasing of rights between landowners.
The solidarity of evacuation, even if each car was its own small ecosystem of panic, grief, and merriment
This walk at the end of the day was meant to cleanse the palette. But as the sky went from pale purple to deep purple, the roiling Gulf of Mexico disappearing into darkness, we again turned to our phones. First to mine, looking at images of the fallen trees, fallen houses, the map that indicated that power was out in all of New Orleans. Then she showed me her friends’ snaps, the ones who were still in New Orleans, “hunkering down,” in the parlance. “Riding it out.” The snap of water coming into the house, under a door; the snap of the doughy cookies that were in progress when the power went out.
Every hurricane that hits, for the ones it fucks up, is the worst one ever
State officials lease our land to petrochemical engineering companies that produce the plastics and poisons that all but ensure we lose everything to climate change, at which point they will find someplace else to go. There are fewer and fewer wetlands to buffer storms on their way to the shore as a result of catastrophic losses to the region’s biodiversity. Don’t get me fucking started on the damming of the Mississippi, which would otherwise naturally rebuild the marsh by continuously depositing sediment it brought down.
Activists get mad at the overly cautious politicians. Politicians get mad at the activists for asking them to do stuff that might cost them their jobs. Various coalition actors get mad that a focus on environmental racism means that some unionized workers might have to stop doing what they’re doing. Environmental justice folks feel that workers don’t think or care enough the impacts of what they do.
Emily Grubert on Texas, energy infrastructure, and the prospects for renewables
It’s not just climate and weather that make these events bad. A lot of the time, it’s really the intersection between unusual events—events that are outside design parameters—and the fact that on the infrastructure side we have a lot of issues with long-term deferred maintenance and obsolescence.