The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery
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Using satellite imagery, it has recently been estimated that there are three times more acres of lawns in the U.S. than irrigated corn. This means lawns - including residential and commercial lawns, golf courses, etc. - could be considered the single largest irrigated crop in America in terms of surface area, covering about 128,000 square kilometers in all.
- Cristina Milesi, NASA, May 2009

My view is that the suburban project, per se, in the United States is over, finished. Like, totally. You can stick a fork in it. What you see is basically all that we're going to get. Not only do we not need anymore of it, but we have way too much of what is already on the ground. We don't need anymore suburban housing pods, and the ones already out there are going to hemorrhage value (and usefulness) as far ahead as anybody can imagine. We need more retail like we need 300-million holes in our heads. Ditto suburban office capacity. Ditto new roads and highways.
- James Howard Kunstler, The Atlantic Free Press, October 2007

Political stability, environmental quality, hunger, and poverty all have the same root. In the long run, the solution to each is restoring the most basic of all resources, the soil.
- Rattan Lal, Soil Scientist, 2008

Taking the long view, we are running out of dirt.
- David R. Montgomery, Geologist, 2008

[Re. Interstate Highway 69/35:] Not since the Gilded Age, when the railroads blazed a trail across the girth of the nation - stealing Indian lands and blasting through majestic landscapes - has a government-sanctioned transportation project of this scale been attempted. Think about it. The biggest highway in the nation is being built after we've already reached peak oil, after the usefulness of a road-centric paradigm has run its course. Further, in the areas through which it is planned, no one wants it but a handful of corporate con men slurping at the public trough.
- Alan Bisbort, Valley Advocate, November 2007

Suburbs represent the biggest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.
- James Howard Kunstler

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.
- Edward Abbey

No wonder the feeder roots of all plants - from magnificent maples to midget mairgolds - choose to live in the topsoil. Here is where roots find a soft bed and a congenial mix of food, water, and air.
- Lee Reich, Associated Press, May 2007

On May 10, 1934, "...the storm measured...1,800 miles wide, a great rectangle of dust from the Great Plains to the Atlantic, weighing 350 million tons."
- Timothy Egan, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, p. 151

It wasn't enough for one farmer to practice soil conservation if his neighbor's land was blowing.
- Timothy Egan, The Worst Hard Time, p. 159

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.
- Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac (p. xviii)

We're investing in the development of fuel the effort and the economic power that we ought to be investing in taking care of our land and our forests.
- Wendell Berry, interview (2006)

Below that thin layer comprising the delicate organism known as soil is a planet as lifeless as the moon.
- Jacks and Whyte, Vanishing Lands: A World Survey of Soil Erosion, p. 4

The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; For they have trangressed laws, violated the statutes, Broken the everlasting covenant.
- Isaiah 24:4-5 (NRSV)

Most of California was alive the way the trail is not too long ago. Probably there wasn't a single patch of the dead and ugly anywhere two hundred years ago. We know more about the dead and the ugly than anyone alive then know more about how to make them.
- Lawrence Collins, Only A Little Planet

It is folly to keep trying to throw this stuff away, because there is no "away."
- Jim Hightower, There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos

Trees and vegetation lie in heaps, torn from the earth by bulldozers, and the earth itself is split, its sedimentary layers exposed like entrails to the desert sun.
- Edward Abbey, Hayduke Lives!

There are few more irreparable marks we can leave on the land than to build a road....
- Mike Dombeck, Forest Service Chief, 1998

The main reason roads are built is to keep the forests healthy.
- W. Henson Moore, President, American Forest & Paper Association

No effect on related environmental values is more adverse than obliteration.
- Federal Court Judge Haden, ruling on mountain-top mine waste dumping

One very small, politically powerful industry is destroying our land. But the salt in the wound is that we're paying them to do it.
- John Horning, Forest Guardians, quoted by Rogers & Lafleur, San Jose Mercury News, November 7, 1999

[Phoenix]...the blob that ate Arizona.
- Edward Abbey

The only trouble with the movement for the preservation of our forests is that it has not gone nearly far enough, and was not begun soon enough.
- President Teddy Roosevelt, 1908

When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tame, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. And what is it to say goodbye to the swift and the hunt, the end of living and the beginning of survival.
- Chief Seattle

This we know, The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. All things are connected, like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.
- Chief Seattle

"Smart growth" [is] a euphemism for predictable and voluntary disaster.
- A.R. Palmer, GSA Today, March 2000

This threat of barenness, latent, coiled within and waiting to avenge any offense, is worldwide.
- Sam Bingham, The Last Ranch

He [Maurice Strong] foresaw the river of prosperity pouring out into a desert of environmental disaster and drying up.
- Sam Bingham, The Last Ranch

The deserts are not invading from without; the land is deteriorating from within.
- Andrew Goudie, The Human Impact on the Natural Environment

How much will be lost, commercially and spiritually, when too great a part of [old-growth forests] has passed on?
- Charles F. Wilkinson, Crossing the Next Meridian

«Les forêts précèdent les peuples, et les déserts les suivent.» [Forests precede civilizations and deserts follow them.]
- Chateaubriand, quoted by Aldous Huxley, The Human Situation

[The] business of mining... sharpens the faculties and dulls the conscience.
- George Julian, Political Recollections (1884) Note: quoted by Leshy, p. 356

We have built these monster suburbs all over hell and the aquifer, and the result is no one can get anywhere any more. They sit there in their SUVs, fuming about the traffic while, of course, the air quality gets worse and worse.
- Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate columnist May 24, 2001

Now here comes another clown with a scheme for the utopian national park: Central Park National Park, Disneyland National Park. Look here, he away with the campgrounds altogether, they only cause delay and congestion and administrative problems - these people want to see America, they are not going to see it sitting around a goddammned campfire; take their money, give them a show, send them on their way - that's the way to run a business.
- Edward Abbey Desert Solitaire

The promotion of growth is simply a sophisticated way to steal from our children.
- David Brower, "Not Man Alone," Friends of the Earth, v. 6, No. 20, November 1976)

The soil is the one indestructible, immutable asset that the nation possesses. It is the one resource that cannot be exhausted, that cannot be used up.
- Federal Bureau of Soils, 1878, quoted by Timothy Egan, The Worst Hard Time, p. 51

We went to the mountain top, but it wasn't there.
- Wendell Berry, Missing Mountains, 2006

The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt


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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