Students in Johannesburg, South Africa are connecting the dots. (Photo by 350.org.)

A version of this post originally appeared on TomDispatch.

The Williams River was so languid and lovely last Saturday morning that it was almost impossible to imagine the violence with which it must have been running on Aug. 28, 2011. And yet the evidence was all around: sand piled high on its banks, trees still scattered as if by a giant’s fist, and most obvious of all, a utilitarian temporary bridge where for 140 years a graceful covered bridge had spanned the water.