But we don't have to look to China or anything futuristically sci-fi to see what kind of hell bad policy can create. We only have to look to the recent past. We still talk about the "dust bowl" because it was a catastrophe. Environmental factors drove tens of thousands of people, like the Joads in Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath," which I can't stop thinking about, from their homes. It was an environmental crisis that was exacerbated, if not created, by humans, who depleted the plains and loosened the topsoil with aggressive agricultural practices. When big winds came, all the loosened dirt blew away, swirling around.