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America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

George Wuerthner has been called a brilliant provocateur who knows how to get under the skin of Western ranchers. With this essay, one that is certain to incite a strong reaction from readers, he examines the costs of America's cheap food policy on both the U.S. Treasury and the environment. Wuerthner writes: "Agriculture is the most destructive land use in America." As an activist, trained biologist, photographer and environmental writer, he has become a prominent figure in the campaign to eliminate livestock from public lands. The author of several dozen books, Wuerthner also has written prolifically about forest ecology, wildfire, the impacts of ATVs and, of course, the effects of non-native cattle and sheep on native species. His coffee-table picture book,Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West, set off a firestorm of debate over the impacts of livestock and the multiple ways that beef production is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. His most recent book is Wild Fire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. With this first piece, NewWest.Net is debuting a regular column from Mr. Wuerthner that will run twice a month on all things nature-related and anything that suits his fancy.

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Making Backyard Ice In An Age Of Global Warming

While you are reading these words, I am putting our Montana backyard on ice. I've been out past midnight for a couple of weeks now trying to make peace with the natural elements and uneven contours of frozen sod in order to make a skating rink for the kids. I must say that it is starting to look sweet as it shines in the end-of-day sunlight. What passes today as a modest extravagance in attempting to defy the gusts of warm Chinook winds that blow through in January and inevitably will turn this project into puddles is nothing compared to the epic struggle in the mountains between glaciers and the rising global thermostat. Decades from now when the glaciers are memorialized in our oral tradition, the same way that Native Americans speak of free-ranging bison in their origin stories, what will our kids remember of winter?

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