Week in review: March 31

Essential stories for understanding Trump’s climate order; plus a few weekend reads.


A catastrophic climate order 

This week President Donald Trump signed a sweeping order that wipes out much of former President Barack Obama’s climate legacy, including his signature Clean Power Plan. High Country News D.C. Correspondent Elizabeth Shogren has been writing about how that order might impact the West, with a story looking at the greening trend of the region’s electricity grid, and another on the Interior Department’s stand-out role in the theatrics of Trump’s promises.

For more around the web, here are some of Shogren’s top picks for understanding implications of Trump’s rollbacks: For a basic primer on what the heck the order does, Vox provides explanations of many of the rollbacks in Trump’s far-reaching plan. It also includes an analysis that shows that if Trump is successful, he will stall progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

For a deeper dive on the symbolism of Trump’s order, this Washington Post story sets the scene at the EPA, the place the White House pointedly chose for the president to sign the executive order. “It hones in on just how devastating it was for some EPA staffers that Trump used their headquarters as a backdrop for dismantling some of the agency’s most important work of recent years,” Shogren says.

HCN Editor-in-Chief Brian Calvert also recommends this article that helps outline what’s at stake with the environmental order. “While the order is being touted as a job creator by the Trump White House, it’s important to note that it sends a clear signal to agencies across the federal government: climate change is no longer something that should be considered a priority when making decisions,” the story reads — and that could make Western communities more vulnerable to climate change. 

Want something a little lighter? This opinion piece has colorful cartoons that all the renewable energy that won’t be created since Trump killed the Clean Power Plan.

 In other news...

Here are a few other reading recommendations, in case you’ve had your fill of energy headlines:

A round-up in Cimarron, Colorado.
    • Carvel Wallace visits the annual cowboy poet gathering in Elko, Nevada, and mulls the roots of cowboy music and poetry, and blackness in the West. A snippet: “But when I sat with Flemons and Farrow and we traced the roots of cowboy music all the way back to our great-grandparents and the songs they sang, songs that they had probably learned from their parents, who would have been born into slavery, I didn’t just feel like I had a right to be here. I felt like I belonged here. Like this was my home as much as it was anyone else’s.” MTV

    • You’ve probably heard of flash floods. But have you heard of flash droughts? They’re rapid onset periods of dry conditions, driving by high temperatures and low soil moisture. They come on quickly and typically end quickly, but they can cause quite a bit of damage in the meantime. Parts of New Mexico and Arizona have been experiencing flash droughts this spring, thanks to dry, windy conditions. Get all your science-nerd needs met on the phenomenon with this explanation from NOAA.

    • New research on the social structures of the ancient Puebloan peoples who settled Chaco Canyon has sparked controversy. The research team behind the new findings did not consult with modern Pueblo tribes before extracting or analyzing DNA, Sapiens writes“In recent decades, archaeologists have been working hard to build trusting, collaborative relationships with our Indigenous colleagues,” archaeologist Ruth Van Dyke said. “Any research that fails to respect Native rights and sensibilities can only undermine this progress.”

    • This week, we launched the first in a series of essays looking at how the state of California is responding to Trump’s policies and governance, by contributing editor Ruxandra Guidi. Read the first one here (available both in English and Spanish).

    • And finally, a Twitter tip-off:
High Country News Classifieds