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Posts published in “Day: January 16, 2022”

The lone farmer and the ponderosa


This column first appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle on January 14..

Here’s a recipe for concentrated depression:

The embattled and seriously troubled Klamath Basin, a center of social and environmental pathologies for two decades and more, facing a future, three decades hence, where climate change could make conditions far worse.

You could spin a dystopian novel from that. Or you could tell a more optimistic story. In a project the Klamath Falls newspaper, the Herald and News, released last week, it did both, in the form of a pair of short stories. (It was funded in part by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Environmental Solutions Initiative.)

It did more than tell stories. It also suggested ways out of the area’s bitter water and environmental conflicts while painting a specific picture of what a climate changed future actually may look like. The report showed that how people respond to the coming changes could make a vast difference.

Much of what we hear about climate change sounds theoretical: A temperature change of a couple of degrees (doesn’t sound like a lot) or an iceberg cleaved off in Antarctica. What about where I live?

The Klamath report got specific about that, about wildfires - of which last summer’s immense Bootleg Fire, just east of the Klamath area, was only a foretaste - major weather swings, frequent severe drought years, and hotter summers.

The Klamath River Basin seems ill-prepared for any of this. The drought year 2001 was a turning point, when the Basin’s water supplies dropped enough that conflicts involving irrigators, environmental interests, nearby tribes and others exploded, and the area has been on edge for years since with little relief in sight. It has attracted outside attention which often has added to the area’s troubles.

So what might happen in the next two to three decades?

The newspaper project outlined the current situation and then, out of many plausible possibilities, sketched out a couple of fictional but fact-infused scenarios.

One was “lone farmer.”

It begins in an upcoming drought year (maybe this one), as water is shut off or severely limited to many users, and anger rises to a flashpoint. Agitators - apparently connected to out-of-area provocateurs like Idahoan Ammon Bundy - seize the Klamath system headgates and open the water to the irrigation canal. But there’s little water, and the incident is the last straw for the feds, who cut off environmental and assistance for the area. Diminished water both on the surface and in local aquifers leaves fish dying, vast acreages of crops unwatered and houses by the hundreds without running water. Many of the endangered species in the area become extinct. Local farmers become endangered too, nearly all selling out to an international corporation which takes over almost all the area’s farm land. Only the local tribes remain, a significant political or legal factor, though after ongoing environmental hardship and the loss of fish runs, many tribal members move out of the area. Wildfires like the massive Bootleg Fire recur. The area's population falls by a third or more, as farm families move out of the area or to a corporate-built residential community.

The second story, “lodgepole and ponderosa,” led with this: “Young people are hard at work restoring and protecting the Klamath Basin’s wetlands, forests and waterways. Despite intensifying climate change impacts, a 30-year effort has put the basin on a path toward resilience."

The climate change assumed in both stories is the same. But in this one, a different trajectory is sketched for the next decade on the local and federal levels. Nationally, “The Interior Department establishes a climate corps program for each watershed in the Western U.S., inspired by the Civilian Conservation Corps created a century earlier." Locally, a new cooperative agreement between the various interests in the area - agricultural, tribal, residential, environmental and others - evolves a series of compromises on water and land use. The local group acquires some water from the federal government under an agreement on how it will be used, and water use in many places changes.

The end result is happier than in “lone farmer”: More local control, more prosperity at least for local businesses, and more local people, albeit with close discipline needed on everyone’s part.

The report suggested that, “The Klamath still has the ingredients of a successful watershed: Land, water, plants, birds, fish and people who care deeply about their homes and communities. But those things must be intricately connected in order to survive.”

The two scenarios seem to suggest as much.

How dare you?


How dare you?

How dare you deface this sacred symbol with your crybaby nonsense? You made a choice to refuse a vaccine that countless health professionals from all over the political spectrum say you should get.

I’m cool with your choice. It’s a free country, after all.

This month, many jurisdictions will see vaccination requirements of some sort kick in. While many people believe this is an entirely new tyranny, I wonder where their kids were when they were required to attend public school. Surely they weren’t all home-schooled?

We’ve had vaccine requirements since before I was born — this is not new. Further, I understand some of the reluctance to get the vaccine; I would’ve preferred to go without, too. But I live in an imperfect world and enough highly-educated health care professionals are telling me to get vaccinated. So I’m vaccinated.

I chose to be vaccinated.

You can choose to remain unvaccinated and you can either accept the consequences or you can complain like there’s no tomorrow.

But how dare you vandalize the holy image of this yellow star?

You chose not to get a vaccine. Yes, you might be refused entrance to a restaurant but there are other restaurants that will welcome you. You might not be able to attend church or a concert but you should know by now that your choices have consequences.

You chose not to get a vaccine.

You were not fired or prevented from working because of who you are — if you did lose your job, you had a choice.

You were not kept out of restaurants or theaters because of who you are — you had a choice.

You did not have your business ransacked and looted before it was confiscated by the government.

You did not have your place of worship set alight as the fire department watched and laughed, making sure neighboring structures didn’t burn. You did not have to watch while holy objects from within your church were desecrated in the street. You did not see your grandparents’ graves vandalized and violated.

You were not forcibly loaded aboard cattle cars along with your children, denied food and water, one bucket serving as a toilet for dozens of people on a journey to hell. You didn’t arrive, freezing, stinking and terrified at camps where thugs in Hugo Boss uniforms decided you would live or die with the flick of a wrist.

You did not see an S.S. officer hold your infant child by its hind leg and bash its head against the steel of a truck when the child wouldn’t stop crying.

You weren’t forced to hold your infant child up in front of you so the barbarian about to kill you could get you and your child with one bullet.

You didn’t see your family forcibly separated from you, your spouse and children sent to a killing chamber disguised as a shower, where gas caused people to claw atop each other in attempts to find air to breathe that didn’t choke them. Your children weren’t found buried beneath the human mountain of death that remained once the poison had done its job.

You weren’t housed on wooden pallets, no comfort, no heat, in vast dorms of filth, with more than triple the number of human beings for which the space was designed. You weren’t given a scoop of dirty, lukewarm water ­— with hunk of turnip in it if you were lucky ­— for your daily meal. You weren’t forced to stand for hours in freezing rain while monsters obsessed with counting counted you, over and over.

You weren’t infested with lice and disease then denied even rudimentary health care.

You weren’t forced to work in a crematorium feeding body after ghoulish body into the hellish flames, sometimes recognizing a dead friend, neighbor or even child before you burnt them to ashes. You weren’t then forced to feed the funeral pyres when the ovens couldn’t keep up with that Teutonic efficiency.

You weren’t eventually liberated to find everything you once had gone — your home, your business, your family, maybe even your town.

The Judenstern represents a horror beyond what you can imagine. How dare you raise your pathetic “suffering” to the level of the Shoah — the most monstrous atrocity in human history.

You are free to complain, to cry, to declare how terribly unfair it all is. You are free to magnify your vaccine-free suffering as much as you like.

But you are also free to get the vaccine.

What you are not free to do is to hijack the sacred symbol of a people who had no choice, who know what true suffering is — the suffering of unspeakable sorrow, of unimaginable genocide.

How dare you equate your small suffering with the horror of the Shoah? How dare you take this liberty?

If you want to remain vaccine-free, so be it. Buck up and accept the consequences of your choice.

Do not create repugnant false equivalencies by elevating your self-imposed suffering with the Holocaust.

Just don’t.

How dare you?

Matthew Meador is a former food and wine writer, senior editor and a rare moderate Republican who now writes political commentary. Previously, Matt was an award-winning graphic artist who often put his skills to use during election seasons. Matt has served in various capacities on political campaigns, for pollsters and for elected officials. Contact him at

Photocomposite unknown provenance