My friend Ed Fallon addresses a subject I’ve written a lot about, the large and rapid migration of people to the Midwest as the west coast continues to experience worsening droughts. And wildfires fed by dried trees and brush. Following are excerpts from a recent email message from Ed.
The highlight of my week occurs every Thursday at 8:00 a.m. Sadly, it’s not a good highlight.
That’s when the National Drought Mitigation Center releases its update about conditions across the US. Sure, I study the map of the Midwest, where things have improved in some areas. But I spend more time analyzing the map of the US West, where drought conditions continue to worsen each week.
The situation in the West is so bad that those of us living in regions blessed with reliable rainfall need to be honest about two difficult truths.
1. West Coast migrants will move to the Midwest
With the prognosis for ongoing and worsening drought, there is simply no way 70 million people can continue to live in the US West. Even before the Midwest sees migration from coastal areas lost to sea-level rise, we need to prepare for the surge of migrants from our western neighbors.
How soon will the exodus from the West begin? Next year. Yup, 2022. That’s my prediction. The situation is that bad.
2. Second, the Midwest needs to commence an overhaul of its biggest industry: agriculture
Second, the Midwest needs to commence an overhaul of its biggest industry: agriculture. Out West, 80-90 percent of the water from the Colorado River is used for irrigation. Without water, farming at its current scale will not survive. As western farms abandon operations, places with adequate rain will need to fill the food-production void.
In the Midwest, instead of fields and fields of corn and soybeans (largely consumed by cars, animals, and laboratories), those fields need to grow actual food. This won’t be an easy transition. It will take innovation, sacrifice, and boldness. It will also take time, which we don’t have a lot of. So we need to get started now.
The only viable solution to the West’s drought problem in the New Climate Era is a drastically smaller population coupled with a radically altered economic model founded on that bedrock of conservative principles: conservation.
My friend Sikowis (Christine Nobiss) of the Great Plains Action Society has written an excellent zine that addresses the need to overhaul agricultural practices in the Midwest. Following are excepts from that zine.
The crew at Great Plains Action Society has a lot to say about resisting colonial-capitalism, taking climate action, and abolishing white supremacy. All our zines are free to use and disseminate to the public as we believe in copyleft–the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify intellectual characteristics with the requirement that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created from that property. This does not, of course, apply to our culture, heritage, and traditions, in any way, which has long been exploited by white supremacist identity thieves.
The problem with iowa: Big-Ag’s Sacrifice zone
This zine provides an Indigenous perspective on the environmental catastrophe known as the State of Iowa where the water is poisoned, animals are dying, the soil is disappearing, and the landscape is turning into a desert. Indigenous concepts such as regenerative agriculture, sustainable land use, and compassion for the earth have been violently oppressed by an imperialist heteropatriarchy to make way for colonial-capitalist farming practices which are now killing us and wreaking havoc on the climate. The only way to heal this land is to adopt Indigenous ways of being and uplift an Indigenous regenerative economy
Long Term Goal in Iowa
Great Plains Action Society’s long-term goal is to rematriate extensive swaths of Iowa in order to revive tallgrass prairie, restore buffalo populations, along with many other insects, birds, fish, and animal species eradicated from these lands. The buffalo is a keystone species of the prairie as their migratory patterns, individual movements, and diet assist in creating hardier flora resistant to sickness and climate shifts or irregular weather patterns.
Prairie reclamation is vital to resolving Iowa’s environmental issues and combating the global climate crisis. For instance, most prairie grasses have deep and extensive root systems effectively holding soil in place and protecting them from drought conditions. This is particularly important due to increased severe recipitation events and eventual large-scale drought caused by climate change. Prairie plants also help to clean water sources. Most importantly, prairie reclamation can recapture billions of tons of carbon.
Short Term Goals
Organize and Change Laws
Along with many others in Iowa, Great Plains Action Society wants to remove and change dangerous laws that allow colonial farming practices to continue. Our collective is lobbying, writing, campaigning for a factory farm moratorium as well as a lift on Iowa’s Ag-Gag law. We are a member of the Iowa Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture who is a leading coalition working on better land stewardship and livestock production practices. We have also worked with other organizations like Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, The Pesticide Action Network, Bioneers, SOCAP, and The Women, Food and Agriculture Network to lobby, speak, and help develop projects. For instance, we consulted on a two-year project with the Pesticide Action Network who released an animation on the global repercussions of Big-Ag, which can be found at https://www.seedsandtruth.com/
Building communities for the (near) future
We need to model how to build sustainable communities not only for climate refugees coming to the Midwest, but also for ourselves. When water no longer flows through the pipes, sewer systems fail and there is no electricity, we will all become climate refugees.
These will become chaotic times as people are forced to abandon the lives of comfort they are familiar with. There will be a great need for spiritual support. Especially as traditional church services will be disrupted, how do we envision spiritual support in the coming time?
There have been numerous experiments to build intentional community. But the model needed now must be created with the intention of being replicated many times over with minimal complexity, using locally available materials—a pre-fab community.
- Community hub with housing and other structures
- Simple housing
- Straw bale houses, sod houses, tents
- Automobiles, buses and RVs
- Passive solar and solar panels
- Stores, school, meetinghouse
- Central kitchen, bathrooms and showers
- Simple housing
- Surrounding fields for food and straw
- Water supply
- Wells, cisterns and/or rain barrels
- Solar, wind, horse
- local networks
- Pedal powered vehicles
- Stockpile common medications
- Essential diagnostic and treatment equipment
- Medical personnel adapt to work in community