Glen Canyon, Arizona/Utah

I arrived at Page, AZ on Saturday night exhausted but feeling happy that I got the heck out of Flagstaff. Sunday was a low key day where I tried to fix the usual mapping issues with Delorme, I spend a lot of time fixing Delorme mapping issues. I half-heartedly stumbled down to the Lake Powell Dam where I realized that I was a stone's throw from Glen Canyon. Backpacker magazine has been yammering about this place since I don't know when, I haven't paid much attention because I live in the east and Glen Canyon is, well, I didn't know where it was. But I was here and excited. There is a politically correct story about this place, but instead, I will tell my version.

Back in the last century the evil American politicians decided that hoarding water was a good idea. So they took this beautiful utopian place called Glen Canyon and decided to flood it, in order to keep water in Utah and Colorado, and away from the starving Mexicans who depended on it for sustenance. Ignoring the wishes of everyone who loved the place the politicians conspired to build this monstrosity and, in order to pay for this boondoogle, they would create hydroelectric power. This was good news for Las Vegas who needed lots of water for the fountains over at the Bellagio.

However, the politicians (most likely Republicans) did not count on global warming global climate change. The big lake filled to capacity in 1980 but since then has shriveled to half its capacity since water is now scarce in the desert. The beautiful arid canyon is returning, and many people want it back. I must say, the place is quite beautiful and could probably do with a few less obnoxious house boats, cigarette boats and partyers.

I have always wanted to hike in the desert, and here you can hike and go anywhere you wish. There are no trails and with the cool temperatures the rattlers and scorpions stay in their little holes.



Some Guy In Tucson said...

The dam (and many others) was a public works program. FDR/Democrats. Both sides do stupid things; I'm with your friend in the other posts: Vote Libertarian (or anything but dem/repub).

Back then *no one* knew about global warming, it was not even considered. Even if it was, the dam probably would have gone ahead as clean power that reduced emissions. Nowadays that's countered by what it does to the native species, thus we're actually tearing down more dams than we build now....and burning more coal and gas to make up for it.

And the Mexicans share their love now. They flow the Colorado backwards, as a sewage drain. The good news is that keeps it from poisoning the Baja and the endangered sea turtles.

Hopefully, they'll knock down the dam (and it's clean energy, unfortunately) and over the next few decades the sludge will get washed away and the beauty will return.

And yes--many less "drunk idiot" boats would be nice.

Issues are often complex. California replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL's will mean that they throw away 20 tons of mercury into the dump every year when the bulbs break/burn out (that's from NPR, and they meant the whole USA based on the amount of bulbs shipped over from China). We could properly dispose of them as hazardous waste, but I can't even get people at work to put cans in the recycle bin that's next to the trash can.

The mercury will then poison the groundwater, then people. (Think of the Mad Hatters--mercury poisoning) And don't forget all the Chinese we poison making the bulbs (there's a lot of processed electronics in there) in dirty factories (but poisoning other lands and people, especially brown people, dying elsewhere isn't an environmental concern.) But we will save a little bit on electricity and that's what's important.

Obviously, there's much humorous irony/sarcasm in the above to highlight the difficulties of solving our energy problem.

some guy in tucson said...

The answer is, of course, use less energy. ;-)

I wanted to give a more researched follow-up to the above so you don't think I'm a kook. A report from Canada on the US and our love of CFL's has them puzzled. Meet the lady who dropped one--and the cleanup bill to remove the mercury to levels safe to be in the house was over $2k.

I know this is the wrong thread, but I love the slot canyons. Guess I better repost that up there.

Cham said...

There is no easy answer to this energy problem. Hydropower screws up the ecosystem. Windpower kills birds and ruins the mountains and landscapes. Fossil fuel is just a seriously crappy choice and we all might fry ourselves with nukes. Don't even get me started on coal, I have too close a kinship with the wild and wonderful West Virginia(what nut invented mountain topping anyway, sick!). From all my reading and studying, our best course of action is solar and learning how to do more with less.