Both farming and water management will be affected by these changes in coming decades, the team noted. Traditionally, the researchers wrote, the Midwestern farm economy has reflected the east-west aridity gradient: the density of farms is highest between the 90th and th meridians at all latitudes, and uniformly lower west of the th meridian, where far more extensive irrigation is used. This sign in Dodge City, Kan.
Crossing the Next Meridian: Land Water and the Future of the West
That is because, in arid areas, farms must be larger to be profitable, Seager says. The Dust Bowl droughts of the s led to larger farms amid the Great Plains for that reason, he says. What farmers plant is also determined by the aridity of their land, the researchers note. At present, corn is the dominant crop in the east, especially in the northern Plains. There, it constitutes up to 70 percent of cropland, but to the west of the boundary, corn accounts for less than 20 percent of cropland, according to the researchers.
Wheat, in contrast, covers about 40 percent of cropland west of the line but drops to less than 10 percent in the east. That is because wheat grows better in drier climates, whereas corn requires a warm, humid climate. Southern Nebraska is an exception, Seager notes, in that corn is grown well west of the th meridian there due to extensive irrigation made possible by the Ogallala Aquifer.
Department of Agriculture USDA provided support for the idea that corn production will decrease, while wheat increases, in the newly arid areas. However, according to the USDA model, farmers in the transition area may end up adapting to the climate change by bringing more acreage of corn under cultivation to compensate for lower yields, rather than swapping corn for other crops.
This sign indicates why: People west of the line had trouble obtaining insurance and loans for farms. Credit: Robert Ashworth.
Crossing the Next Meridian: Land, Water, and the Future of the West
The th Meridian Initiative is a scientific project to prevent the spread of invasive species, like zebra mussels, from east to west. Zebra mussels can smother native mussels by covering the openings of their shells. Since the demarcation of the th meridian was first observed by Powell years ago, some states that straddle it have embraced their association with it, but others have disparaged it.
A sign on the Texas-Oklahoma border notes that the th meridian at that spot was originally part of the border between the Texas Republic and the Louisiana Purchase. Neither the [unnamed] geographer nor the Insurance Companies had been west of degrees. Memory or not, the th meridian still demarcates certain dividing lines and continues to attract the attention of scientists, historians and even artists.
The th Meridian Initiative , for example, is a project among local, state, provincial, regional and federal agencies to prevent the spread of invasive species, like zebra mussels, from the East to the West. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the expressed written permission of the American Geosciences Institute is expressly prohibited.
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Enter your search terms. Dividing line: The past, present and future of the th Meridian. Harvey Leifert Leifert is a freelance science writer based in Bethesda, Md. Monday, January 22, - Folding drone flies into tight spaces. Geoethics in the Field: Leading by Example. Inside the inferno: How large firenadoes form. He relates stories of Westerners who face these issues on a day-to-day basis, and discusses what can and should be done to bring government policies in line with the reality of twentieth-century American life.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 1st by Island Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Crossing the Next Meridian , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Crossing the Next Meridian.
Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 27, Debocracy rated it it was amazing.
Charles Wilkinson is a professor of Law at the University of Colorado. I got this book from the clearance table at my law school.
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How shameful! Every law student should read this book. Professor Wilkinson, a splendid writer, tells the story of how the laws governing land and water use in the West have given rise to poor policies and poor outcomes for the health and survival of the region. After reading it, I felt that I had a beginner's grasp of the problems created by current laws.
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I also felt that the laws on the books will not be favorably altered in my lifetime. Our solution to that problem? Start relocalizing all of the resources we can relocalize, especially in view of the increasingly intolerable costs for energy. The serious problems for the West in terms of pollution, conservation, and poor water policy can be managed, but the solutions will come from the grassroots, not Congress or the Executive Branch.
Nov 20, Les Aucoin rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. This book, written by an acquaintance of mine, stands as one of the two iconic works that examine the nexus of politics and the natural environment. Anyone who cares about the landscape of the west and its flora and fauna should have it in their library.
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May 24, John Nelson rated it liked it. This book was authored by my friend and former law professor, Charles Wilkinson. Wilkinson draws a dichotomy between the traditional users of public lands, such as miners, grazers, timbermen, and others, on one hand, and recreationists and Indian tribes, on the other. The laws governing traditional uses are dubbed the "Lords of Yesterday.
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Wilkinson advocates that these "Lords of Yesterday" be deposed in favor of a new legal regime favoring the latter group. Although the conflict is n This book was authored by my friend and former law professor, Charles Wilkinson. Although the conflict is not framed in terms of socioeconomic class and background, that is where the true conflict lies. The "Lords of Yesterday" were drafted to provide access to public lands for working people, and most people who make use of these laws today remain mostly blue collar and live in the rural west.
In contrast, those who place the highest value on recreation and environmental preservation typically are college educated, upper income, and live in cities, only occasionally visiting the back country. Indian tribes occupy an unusual niche in this conflict. On one hand, Indians typically want to engage in timber cutting, mineral development, commercial fishing, and other economically valuable activities. After all, they are human beings like the rest of us, and need to make a living.
On the other hand, the "virtue signaling" many people learn in college or graduate school require them to support tribes, even if they would vehemently oppose the same activities if undertaken by anyone else. As a result, they are lumped on the "new" side, even though most of their activities belong with the "lords of yesterday. Wilkinson is to impose new restrictions on traditional economic activities on public lands and to impose new layers of review before any such activity may be approved.
No such restrictions are suggested for the favored "new" uses. In my view, no new layers of review are called for. In the s, Congress enacted the National Environmental Policy Act "NEPA" , which requires that an environmental impact statement be completed before any "major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment" may be carried out. In practice, this process often requires years of litigation and many millions of dollars to complete.
Congress also has mandated comprehensive land use planning for public lands, most prominently through the National Forest Management Act. I also am skeptical of imposing new substantive restrictions on traditional uses of public lands. Most such uses impact relatively little land and provide valuable benefits for local communities and the nation as a whole. Public land grazing, which requires very large amounts of land to produce very little beef, may be an exception.
The real threat to the environment in the rural west is resort and second home development and the like.
The epitome of the "new" West advocated by this book are the thirty-five acre ranchettes which sprawl across the scenic parts of the West, impacting far more ground than mineral development ever has or will. In other words, as the wag once said, we have met the enemy, and he is us i. A more rational policy might be to require every user to pay his or her own way.
This policy would eliminate the below-cost timber sales and grazing leases which are , or at least formerly were, so controversial.