Droughts have always been frequent in the Western United States, and in recent years they have been more frequent and lasting longer than was historically to be expected. That is not too surprising.
The atomic bomb testing program in the 1950s and early 60s, in which the United States was attacked by the United States government with nuclear weapons more that 1,000 times, and the widespread use of nuclear reactors to generate electricity ever since then, now employing more than 100 reactors, has resulted in a significant increase in DOR in the environment.
An increase in droughts is only one of the inevitable results and unless a well-conceived cloudbusting program is instituted, can be expected to continue as long as the technological use of radioacxtivity continues.
Much of the West had already been under assault by another devastating form of attack for the past several hundred years, especially in the past 160 years or so. The introduction of cattle ranching, first by the invaders from Spain starting in the 16th century, and then by the American invaders who followed them in the 19th, has had a horrendous effect on the ecology of the entire West.
In addition to the direct devastation from the grazing itself, there are side-effects that do at least as much damage, including the deliberate extermination of predators by a government agency in the service of the cattle ranchers to protect the cattle, the construction of fences that prevent wildlife from following their normal instinctive migratory routes to more available food supplies in winter, and the drawing down of the water table by the numerous wells dug to provide water for cattle at places where no surface water is supposed to be.
The recent increase in frequency and severity of droughts has sometimes led to the understandable but naive suggestion that cloudbusters could be used to end the droughts and restore better climate conditions. That is perfectly true. The droughts are caused by build-up of DOR and it would be possible to reverse that trend with proper cloudbusting over a period of time. And since droughts have a harmful impact on nearly all forms of life in a drought-stricken region, from a strictly atmospheric standpoint, DOR-removal would be the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, things are a bit more complicated than that. The droughts, if they are severe enough and last long enough, can be expected to drive the cattle ranchers into bankruptcy and force them out of business. If a drought is ended by cloudbusting, the ranchers will survive to continue their attack on the West by raising cattle.
Droughts are indeed bad for all living things, but in many cases, cattle ranching is almost as bad, and often harder to get rid of. In the case of the current drought situation in the Southwestern United States, it would be foolish to employ a cloudbuster to end the drought, only to thereby inadvertantly protect the cattle ranchers from insolvency.
If the drought is allowed to go on long enough to drive the ranchers out of business, and then a cloudbusting program used to restore normal conditions, the benefits of such a delay would be greater than the harm from the greater duration of the drought. The elimination of the cattle industry would be a huge gain for the region and the eventual ecological recovery would be far more complete than if the drought were ended prematurely and the ranchers left in place to continue their assault on the land.
This is an example of the kind of wholistic examination of the issues that is needed in the cloudbusting field to take all relevant factors into account, not only metorological ones, but social and economic factors as well.
The following link will provide background information to back up my contention that cloudbusting to end a drought in a region already under attack by cattle ranching should be delayed until the drought itself has ended the rancher's destructive attack on the ecosystem.
(US) Grazing Retirment Legislation on Daily Kos
Posted by: "Mike Hudak" email@example.com mike_hudak
Date: Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:53 pm ((PST))
The Rural Economic Vitalization Act
recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, would
enable the voluntary retirement of federal grazing permits. Where
ranching would cease, significant improvement in wildlife habitat
Read my article about the legislation at
Those of you on Facebook, I encourage to "Like" the article. Thanks.
Mike Hudak, PhD
Chair, Sierra Club Grazing Committee
Director, Public Lands Without Livestock
Author, WESTERN TURF WARS
38 Oliver Street
Binghamton, NY 13904-1542
Phone: (607) 240-5225
Personal website: http://mikehudak.com
Biome Books: http://biomebooks.com
Sierra Club: http://sc.org/grazing-team
YouTube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/MJHudak1952?feature=mhum
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