Climate Change Threatens the American West | Rolling Stone
The cornerstones of the American West – from cowboys and their cattle to mountains and their forests – face a grave threat from global climate change. In the latest issue of Men's Journal, Rolling Stone contributing editor Mark Binelli explores the risks and realities in a feature titled, "Will the West Survive?"
How will people living in the West adapt to a new world where extreme weather conditions are an everyday occurrence? Writes Binelli, "The new normal never seemed to refer to anything remotely desirable and now had extended its reach to the very elements: fire and drought and triple-digit heat waves."
Yet another huge task facing the West is turning residents on to the notion of climate change as cause of their newfound hardships. Binelli notes a sharp scarcity of believers, despite environmental scientists' recent victories in defining climate change. The story documents the attitudes of some local leaders who see a bright side in destructive wildfires – the financial boom that follows with reconstruction. Others resist innovative wind energy production because they remain faithful to the old ways of coal power.
"The West has been such an important part of the American mystique for so long that the changes that might occur would certainly affect our collective psyche," Binelli writes. "If that place becomes exhausted, or spoiled, or simply too unfriendly a landscape, well....what, exactly, will we have lost?"