Thursday, October 22, 2015

USA, California: Beautiful Essay on the Problems of Restoring the Salton Sea

High & Dry: The Salton Sea and the Search for Solutions to the West's Problems (

"Dead Tree, Nests & Thermal Plants," infrared exposure. Salton Sea, CA. 2014. | Photo: Osceola Refetoff.
The Salton sink in California's Imperial Valley is a giant geological laboratory retort into which most of the problems challenging the West have been distilled. Now residents, officials, and scientists work to find the right combination of chemicals, strategies, apparatus, and protocols to identify workable solutions.

It is fashionable for journalists to write of the Salton Sea and nearby communities in post-apocalyptic terms. While not inappropriate, this is only half the story. The area, as it struggles with water problems, the border, chemical and air pollution, Native water rights, geothermal green energy repercussions, pesticide toxicity, unskilled labor force, climate change, and exploitative development, is mirroring California and the West's growing trials as they confront the future. For some, it is a depressing landscape, yet seen from a neutral perspective, aesthetically beautiful in varied ways. It sets the bar high in search for human solutions to mostly human-caused problems.

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