All Hate, No Cattle: Red State Devastated by Climate Extremes
October 16, 2013
South Dakota Senator John Thune is one of Congress’ leading climate deniers. The South Dakota legislature has become renowned as a bastion of anti science enthusiasts, who famously proposed a resolution not long ago calling for “balance” in science education, and declaring
“..carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life on earth
.. That global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact;..That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative;
Last week the state was hit with the kind of destructive extreme weather event – an “early and unusual” blizzard, that climate science has predicted will increase in coming decades.
The government shutdown, supported by many in this conservative enclave, means that no federal help is available when needed.
The blizzard hit just days after 80-degree weather, before ranchers had moved their herds from less-protected summer grazing lands. Most ranchers were set to bring calves to market — the satisfying payday after another year of grueling labor. Thousands of head had been recently relocated here from Texas and New Mexico to escape punishing droughts in those states.
“Some ranchers lost all their cattle. They’ve yet to find one alive,” Christen said. “They’re facing absolute destruction.”
Yet Washington’s shutdown has deprived people here of a traditional safety net: Congress hasn’t passed a new farm bill to subsidize agricultural producers, and the lockout means legislators won’t be voting on the topic any time soon.
These days, Reder passes a federal Farm Services Administration office whose doors are closed. Like most American ranchers, the 47-year-old is a resilient small businessman used to tending to his own problems, with help from neighbors whose families settled this land generations ago.
Still, he’s frustrated and feels that federal lawmakers have turned their backs on the nation’s heartland in a time of need.
“We’re just a bunch of ranchers from South Dakota — it’s hard for our voices to be heard,” he said, sitting at the kitchen table at dawn Friday, drinking coffee, fielding calls from fellow cattlemen. “You see crises across the country, the hurricanes and tornadoes, and officials are right on top of it. But something of this magnitude, that has just about leveled this part of the country, and there’s nothing.”
Many residents in this conservative region had supported the government shutdown as a way to make Washington more fiscally responsible. “But one appropriate role for these guys is to lend a hand after disasters like this,” Christen said, “and they’re not here.”