The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery
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Solar Power Plants,
Water, and Climate

by Howard Wilshire
(January, 2011).


Pictures and captions (of slide show images); relevant chapter or appendix is shown in brackets [ ]

Click on thumbnail images to view larger photos with captions. Slide show will allow you to scroll through the photo gallery.

1. Avenue of the Giants, Redwood forest, northern California. August 2001 [1].

2. Badger, Turtle Mountains, Mojave Desert, May 1984.

3. Lupine, Tehachapi Mountains, California, April 1983.

4. Clark Mountain Wilderness, East Mojave National Preserve. View south from Kern River gas pipeline, which cut huge swath across this Joshua tree forest. July 1992 [5].

5. King Range, California coast. This land was designated wilderness in 2006. August 1988.

6. Mine Tailings impoundment, Mineral Park Mine, Cerbat Mountains, Arizona. Erosion has contaminated drainages below impoundment. Tailings, the leftovers from milling and processing ore, have high contents of toxic metals and chemicals used in processing the ore. May 1982 [4] [10].

7. Landsat image of Mt. Adams and surroundings in the Washington Cascades, showing extensive forest fragmentation by clear-cutting and road-building. (Image provided courtesy Dr. John Dohrenwend, .)

8. Nuclear bomb craters at Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site, Nevada. "Sedan" crater, in foreground. U.S. Department Energy photograph. The Sedan experiment was part of the Plowshare program for peaceful uses of nuclear bombs, testing the efficacy of nukes for excavation projects such as building a new canal to replace the Panama canal. 27 Plowshare experiments were conducted under the guise of peaceful applications, but the program was begun to circumvent the Partial Test Ban Treaty [Appendix 6].

9. Golf course in desert, Mesquite, Nevada, a typical water-intensive desert project. October 1989.

10. Betze-Post gold mine, Carlin Trend, Nevada, one of many deep gold mines that will have lasting effects on groundwater levels and pollution. The gold sought is not visible to the naked eye, and requires mining and disposal of 100 tons of rock per ounce of gold obtained. May 2001.

11. Erosion induced by runoff from wind farm roads/tower pads, Tehachapi Mountains. Wind developments in steep terrain are particularly difficult to manage, but all impose some environmental problems. March 1993.

12. Plastic sheet covering agriculture field for methyl bromide fumigation, Wasco, CA. Methyl bromide was, by international agreement, to be phased out in 2005, but as of September 2006 this has not yet been achieved in the U.S. September 2003.

13. Dust plume rises 5,000 feet above the San Joaquin Valley southeast of Bakersfield, CA, in December 1977 windstorm. Dust streams from canyons in the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains (lower left). All anemometers in the southern San Joaquin Valley failed, but pre-failure records indicated wind velocities to 194 mph. Powerlines were uprooted or toppled; orchards, vineyards, and vegetable crops were destroyed; fence posts were cut in two by wind-driven sand; and large areas of the valley-bounding hills were denuded, leading to massive water erosion and debris flows in subsequent rainstorms. Dust from the southern part of the valley, carrying the valley-fever fungus, was blown as much as 400 miles to the north and caused an epidemic of valley fever. Photo by Sam Chase [2] [13].

14. Erosion of grazed land, east of Paso Robles, California. April 1991 [3].

15. Modest home in foreground, two “McMansions” in background. The trend toward ever-larger residences is enormously consumptive of raw materials and energy. Sebastopol, California. October 2001 [8] [12].

16. Oil field, aerial view of drill pads and ancillary developments, Lost Hills, California. April 2003 [12].

17. Pollution from oil field, Lost Hills, California [12].

18. Chained Pinyon-Juniper forest, East of Zion Canyon Utah. Forests are demolished by dragging a heavy ship’s anchor with welded cutting edges through the forest between two bulldozers. This is done to replace the native vegetation with exotic crested wheatgrass for cattle fodder. Other techniques for eradication include herbicide application. April 1989 [3].

19. Desert Gold in a particularly good rain year, Trona, California. April 1993.

20. Yucca flower, Mohave Mountains Arizona. March 1982.

See also: Extra photos


The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery

The American West At Risk summarizes the dominant human-generated environmental challenges in the 11 contiguous arid western United States - America's legendary, even mythical, frontier.

It now faces depletion of many of these resources, and potentially serious threats to its few "renewable" resources.

Purchase Here at Oxford Press



Dr. Howard G. Wilshire, Geologist; Dr. Jane E. Nielson, Geologist; Richard W. Hazlett, Geologist

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