Angry Dirty Water: The Uncompahgre River

Along the western edge of Ouray, Colorado, and sourced some 12,000 feet above at a lake called Lake Como, there flows a greenish-yellowish-reddish river named the Uncompahgre River.

The word is pronounced un-COME-pah-GRAY.

It’s a Ute Indian word that means “dirty water” or “angry water” or “red lake,” because mountain minerals color the water, as they always have.

Long before the mines existed, the Utes observed this.

This is Red Mountain, near the river’s source:

Red Mountain is very beautiful, and it’s naturally this color.

It is not this color because of mining or pollution.

Ouray, however, which is where I grew up, is a mining town.

In the early nineties, when the environmental movement began to really take hold, we natives (and by “natives” I mean Ouray locals) rather suddenly began hearing that the reason the Uncompahgre River is colored this way is that the mines had polluted the river water.

In fact, this rapidly became a common environmentalist talking-point, repeated and passed along without any critical questioning.

And yet it’s totally, provably, patently false, and I, who was all for environmentalism at this time, I knew for a fact that this talking-point was a total fabrication.

It was pure propaganda made up out of whole cloth, and I, along with many others, watched this fabrication materialize and grow into a monster that, to this day, certain true-believers will fight you to the death over.

Other outright lies cropped up: lies about the mines being “mined out” (they’ve barely been tapped, in fact); lies about pollution and environmental degradation; lies about what the miners did to the environment. Some contained kernels of truth but were wildly exaggerated.

The question for me became: why?

The answer: Noble Cause Corruption.

At the time, being a kid, I didn’t of course know about this. But watching outright lies materialize before your eyes will certainly make you start looking far more critically at subsequent claims — or, at least, it should.

It turns out that the lies and exaggerations are part-and-parcel to the cause. They’re commonplace, as a matter of fact, and the leaders of the environmental movement make no real secret of this.

Most environmentalists I know are genuinely good people.

Most of my hippy-dippy friends are excellent sweet people, with excellent sweet intentions, and that’s why we’re friends.

But I can say also, without any hesitation or doubt, that most don’t have any idea about the philosophical-political-economic underpinnings of the movement they espouse, which is pure Neo-Marxism.

The truth is that I know no serious person who doesn’t care about the state of the planet.

The only real question is, how best to deal with environmental and societal issues?

And I can absolutely promise you this much:

It’s not through an elite bureau of centralized planners.

It’s not through subsidizing “renewables” and making them mandatory — and then claiming that renewables are “sustainable” because they’re more efficient, and look: they are everywhere now.

It’s not through majority rule, and it’s not through the majority having power to vote away the rights of any individual — which is to say, through vox-populi-democracy.

It’s not through subordinating individuals and their property to a collective — of any kind — and when you hear that proposed, every single time, no matter what, you can be 100 percent sure that it is a false and dangerous doctrine.

It’s not through wealth destruction and “bringing down all industrial society,” as environmental leader Maurice Strong put it, and it’s not through retrogressing back to that point in human history, not so long ago, when over ninety percent of populations were necessarily devoted to farming — when sickness and disease were rampant and unchecked and lifespans were dismally short, water and food dirty, and medicine was still in the dark ages, and even short-distance travel sheer drudgery and danger.

The solution is through human progress and innovation, which comes through fully and legally recognizing each individual’s unalienable right to person and property, allowing people to flourish and prosper and create new wealth, and also in holding people fully accountable for breaching either, whether through pollution, expropriation, eminent domain, extortion, murder, fraud, rape, or any other form of violence, direct or indirect: because human progress comes about through conditions of freedom.


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