Monday, March 18, 2013

The Death Trap Awaiting in the Desert....

Some people have predicted that more long-distance-travelers will be coming through the area in anticipation of an upcoming immigration reform bill.  Given the current economic state I wonder what jobs, other than the most menial, are available.  Perhaps they will simply be coming north on faith alone.  Faith that anyplace is better than the turmoil they currently experience.  The previous administration’s economic debacle which essentially gave us a near depression in 2007 into 2008 will probably take 20 years to resolve or perhaps even longer given uncontrolled increases in population and concurrent political obstruction.  The idea that anyone might fix the problem in four or even eight years is na├»ve and we can look forward to years of economic instability even as elected officials argue over matters more often than not chosen to buttress the few at the expense of the many.  All the while, those living in outlying areas along the US southern border need to be watchful in case travelers increase significantly in numbers.  Of course, any upcoming immigration reform bill will not mirror the outright amnesty program the late president Ronald Reagan unloaded on the country in the mid-1980s.  Reagan’s amnesty ushered in nearly 40 million people who in many places overwhelmed infrastructures and greatly increased human population pressures.  The proposed bill, if passed, will hopefully eschew that sort of chaos.  But whether in the deserts of southern Arizona or southern New Mexico or West Texas or South Texas people will enter, as they have entered, and many will burn up in the heat or die for lack of water.  I’ve been told some people leave water containers in the desert for travelers.  We give people water on the rare occasion that they stop by thirsty and lost.  But we’ve been warned to be exceedingly careful and not take anything for granted.  When I was a kid we’d run into travelers all the time.  I remember one night when a friend and I walked thirteen miles down an isolated South Texas caliche road after getting a pickup truck stuck on a ranch.  It was nearing midnight and we heard voices.  Four men were walking north but at first we couldn’t see them in the dark.  I called out in Spanish asking who goes there and one of the men answered back, “Gente buena.”  That means, “Good people.”  Yes, they were good people and we talked to them for a few minutes.  I imagine they walked on for perhaps another twenty miles or so before bedding down for a few hours rest.  But these days they are not necessarily gente buena and we must always be on guard.  I think back on what a Border Patrol agent told me a few months ago.  At that time they had reached a body count of one-hundred in the desert to the north, The South Texas Sand Sheet.  It is an unforgiving land with no surface-water and miles of fine-grained sand making walking all the more difficult.  Why people would choose to traverse that country on foot is mindboggling but they do every year and likewise they die every year.  I never venture anywhere around here without at least a 2-quart canteen slung over my shoulder.  Even then I’m careful to keep to the shade (shade is sparse) and to move slowly so as not to overheat.  When my canteen is half-full it’s time to turn around and head back.  One can suffer heat exhaustion in minutes when temperatures rise over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and as amazing as this might sound today’s temperatures (remember we are still in Winter!) are expected to peak at 100° Fahrenheit.  People are now suggesting that this coming summer will break last summer’s record as the hottest in recorded history.  But we had hardly any winter here to speak of and we are simultaneously suffering an “extreme drought.”  Many people are noticing these horrific temperatures and the never-ending droughts and now more and more people are beginning to ask, “Can we afford not to act prudently and take the advice of honest and reputable scientists worldwide who are suggesting that the causes of this chaotic climate are manmade?”  It’s not as if we get another chance to run this experiment, folks.  Nonetheless, others continue with their heads in the sand.  Only problem is that here in South Texas that sand is getting really hot.  Now several cities to the south of us are enforcing water restrictions and the ongoing drought is expected to exacerbate.  That’s bad news.  But to quote Forrest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does,” and the leaders of those communities continue touting endless growth and development.  It’s all about short-term economic gain but sooner or later (probably sooner than later) it will come crumbling down.  There are simply too many limiting factors that might come into play.  Best hunker down I suspect.  Only problem is that those same “growers and developers” will scream the loudest when their foolishness backfires on them.  Ain’t that the way it always is….

                     Last Year this spot was covered with wildflowers.  

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