Monday, December 6, 2021, 11:22 AM
The vast rangelands of the American West have been the site of competition and conflict for hundreds of years. And drought has been an integral part of that landscape for centuries. But going forward, the climate emergency threatens conditions completely foreign to modern agricultural producers in western North America; the federal measures needed to mitigate their devastation may conspire to heighten the risk of conflict over federal management of the region’s most vital resource. In an era in which an increasing portion of the American public views violence as a legitimate means of resolving political disputes, the risk of land-centered enmity motivating conflict cannot be ruled out. As extreme drought withers livelihoods and the federal government moves to limit the suffering in an equitable manner, the chance that dismay and anger escalate into violence grows.