I get tired of handwringing and whining—my own and others’. This week’s cover story by veteran reporter Brian Bahouth (many of you probably recognize his name from the local NPR station) perfectly illustrates what happens when people spend lifetimes flapping their gums.
Walker Lake has been on the endangered lakes list for almost as long as non-native people have been able to get their mitts on its resource. To me, the lake’s incipient death shows the falsity of the theory that people will ever act against their own best financial interests, even when there is a lot at stake. Walker Lake’s death isn’t something people can blame on any particular presidential administration; every administration (including state administrations) has mostly ignored environmental predation and degradation. We can only blame ourselves, our ancestors and the way our culture looks at the world as something that only has as much value as it has cash value.
You can hardly blame the farmers, who have only used the water in ways their parents and their parents’ parents used the water. They shouldn’t, can’t and won’t be forced to choose between their livelihood and the health of something as abstract, yet tangible, as a miles-away lake.
The government is unready to do what would be necessary in order to conserve a natural resource like Walker Lake; the users of the water are unwilling to do what’s necessary to preserve the resource; the Native Americans are unable to preserve their ancestral lifestyle. The bottom line is that, while everyone seems to accept that it would be good to preserve and conserve the habitat, water resource and human legacy that is Walker Lake, nobody will.
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Ain’t it a shame?
Reason to vote No. 24: People who are elected to government posts must sometimes act against their own best interests to ensure that our children inherit a world that’s worth living in. It’s up to voters to decide who will and can bear that kind of responsibility.