Truth at 102 Feet Per Second

An I-5 Interlude

Irrigation depleted Klamath River north of Yreka, California.

This week I drove down I-5, dodging Amazon Prime semi-trailers from Oregon City to Burbank. The 916-mile drive south offers a kind of triptych of what the West has been doing to itself all of these years, truth (to reformulate Godard) at 102 feet per second. I crossed depleted rivers, from the Santiam, Willamette and Umpqua to the Rogue, Klamath and Sacramento, mercilessly drained to irrigate alfalfa fields, pistachio orchards and rice paddies. And fresh clearcuts defaced the Siskiyou and Cascade Ranges.

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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3

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