Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 6, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

WATER WARS....Remember that stuff about how the third world is going to get hit by global warming before us rich folks? Apparently that's not completely the case:

The driest periods of the last century — the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the droughts of the 1950s — may become the norm in the Southwest United States within decades because of global warming, according to a study released Thursday.

....The study, published online in the journal Science, predicted a permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest — one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation.

...."This is a situation that is going to cause water wars," said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

I guess that leaves us Californians no choice: it's time to declare war on Arizona. And Las Vegas. All we need now is a good excuse.

Kevin Drum 12:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (84)

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Comments

Yeah, but you guys have a whole ocean to pump dry. Get started!!

Posted by: Tony Shifflett on April 6, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to realize the true catastrophic nature of what is going to happen. It's one thing to talk about global warming and it's effects in the abstract, but I don't think any of us are truly able to realize what is actually going to happen.

Posted by: bobbyk on April 6, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK
Remember that stuff about how the third world is going to get hit by global warming before us rich folks?

No.

I do remember stuff about it causing more extreme problems there because the developed world is more able to deal with problems, if nothing else by increasing coercive pressures on the third world. I don't recall any claims that generally the direct impacts would initially be focussed on the third world, though.

I guess that leaves us Californians no choice: it's time to declare war on Arizona. And Las Vegas. All we need now is a good excuse.

Well, Las Vegas is pretty much an excuse on its own.

Arizona may be harder, though.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

who needs a good excuse when we could just change party affiliation and declare preemptive war!

Posted by: A different matt on April 6, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Get the Brits to station 15 naval men just a little too close to the "employees only" door at the Bellagio...

Posted by: brent on April 6, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

While you're fighting your little war with Arizona and Vegas, we'll just be building a tidy dam on our western border to sell Colorado River water at market price to all of you ridiculous desert-living lower basin water buffalos.

Posted by: Colorado on April 6, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

More scare tactics by Kevin Drum.

Prof Ball is a climatologist in Canada. He admits Global Warming is fraud perpetrated by an entrenced scientific orthadoxy. Look it up.

Posted by: egbert on April 6, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

The study, published online in the journal Science, predicted a permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest -- one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation.

Kevin, models of global warming are quite poor in their predictive power. We should not trust them without more evidence. This is explained by Justice Antonin Scalia.

Link

"The science of climate change is extraordinarily complex and still evolving. Although there have been substantial advances in climate change science, there continue to be important uncertainties in our understanding of the factors that may affect future climate change and how it should be addressed."

"Reducing the wide range of uncertainty inherent in current model predictions will require major advances in understanding and modeling of the factors that determine atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and the processes that determine the sensitivity of the climate system..."

Posted by: Al on April 6, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't you (LA) already declare war on the Owens Valley?

A friend who lives in Phoenix noted that all water runs downhill towards money. Who has more money, LA or Vegas?

Posted by: PetervE on April 6, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I guess that leaves us Californians no choice: it's time to declare war on Arizona. And Las Vegas. All we need now is a good excuse. —Kevin Drum

Actually, as most of SoCal's water comes from some place far, far away, it would be Arizona and Nevada declaring war on you. That is unless my geography is a askew and the Colorado River actually flows through California.

Ecotopia now! Let's give the desert SW back to Mexico.

Posted by: JeffII on April 6, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

...realize what is actually going to happen.

Not going to happen. It's already happening.

I know Kevin was making a (grim) joke, but going to war won't make more water available. Rationing and conservation might.

Posted by: skeg on April 6, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is pretty clear Nevada is developing a large stockpile of nuclear waste which could in theory be turned into dirty bombs.

Is this reason enough? I think I've heard something like this before but I can't remember where.

Posted by: TSax on April 6, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

"The science of climate change is extraordinarily complex and still evolving. Although there have been substantial advances in climate change science, there continue to be important uncertainties in our understanding of the factors that may affect future climate change and how it should be addressed."

"Reducing the wide range of uncertainty inherent in current model predictions will require major advances in understanding and modeling of the factors that determine atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and the processes that determine the sensitivity of the climate system..."

That's rich. A Supreme Court Justice, with no scientific background, lectures everyone else about the pratfalls of scientific models. Yes, his legal background gives him all the justification he needs to debunk actual scientists who have been studying the climate and using models for years.

The only thing worse than a pundit is a lawyer. Both think they are experts in anything they wish. Fact is, both don't know jack.

Posted by: NSA Mole on April 6, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for Washington and Oregon to secede and form Ecotopia with British Columbia.

Posted by: Ekim on April 6, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
It's time to move. We've got plenty of water where I live north of Boston. I mean, I still have 3 inches of snow in my backyard. Of course, it was 19 degrees on my back porch this morning, too. So, hey, buy a coat, it's better than being thirsty.
Cheers,
Ralph

Posted by: Ralph on April 6, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

But I like my green lawn here in Tucson!

Posted by: thersites on April 6, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ekim, I think most of us (West of the Cascades anyway) prefer the term "Cascadia".

The flag has three horizontal bars of blue, white, and green (from top to bottom) and an evergreen smack in the middle. ^_^

Posted by: Everblue Stater on April 6, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

And the Cascadian motto is:

"Live Green or Die"

Posted by: tiparillo on April 6, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

That's fine with me--even here in Cheney. The utopian book Ecotopia included northern California rather than BC anyway.

Posted by: Ekim on April 6, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

-- Gentlemen, today you can walk
out that door, turn right, hop on
a streetcar and in twenty-five
minutes end up smack in the Pacific
Ocean. Now you can swim in it, you
can fish in it, you can sail in
it - but you can't drink it, you
can't water your lawns with it,
you can't irrigate an orange grove
with it. Remember -- we live next
door to the ocean but we also live
on the edge of the desert. Los
Angeles is a desert community.
Beneath this building, beneath
every street there's a desert.
Without water the dust will rise
up and cover us as though we'd
never existed!

Posted by: Chinatown on April 6, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Forget it, Jake. It's Phoenix."

Just keep your damn hands off the Columbia.

Posted by: biggerbox on April 6, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

All those folks who made phoenix amurika's 5th largest city are going to have to give up their green lawns, and showers.

Posted by: klyde on April 6, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Just learn to take the salt out of sea water.

I mean, with all the ice melts - there will be more ocean to go around.

Posted by: Cheryl on April 6, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

I guess that leaves us Californians no choice:

Most of California's coastal power plants waste their waste heat completely. The San Onofre nuclear plants, for example, pump their waste heat out several miles into the Pacific Ocean. With some modifications, at less cost than a water war, these power plants could be adapted to desalination plants, and produce a few hundred thousand gallons of fresh water every month. that's not a complete solution, but it's a start.

Another part of the solution is to build many small solar-powered desalination plants in all coastal communities.

Another part of the solution is to end or dramatically reduce the subsidized use of water for rice and maize cultivation. Growing fuel and sequestering CO2 are more important (and more economical) than exporting tax subsidized rice at a net cost to the taxpayers.

By 2050, the target date for the perpetual drought, San Diego and the other coastal cities could be getting their entire drinking water supply from the ocean. Similarly Tijuana, Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 6, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

OK, why don't we start planning now so our kids are not fighting then? Just a thought.

There are obvious fixes. Desalinization, wind powered pumps moving that desalted sea water in land, conservation, recycling of the rain that does fall. All kinds of things pop in to my mind. War the Arizonia won't do anything except further poison our nest.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 6, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Prof Ball is a discredited oil-industry shill in Canada.

Fixed it for ya, eggs-for-brains.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 6, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kids always bother me. Crying in theaters, running around in restaurants yammering and fighting. Keeping adults from enjoying some of the more risque' pleasures in life because every goddamned moralizer on the planet says we have to "Protect the children!" Basically a pretty repugnant, burdensome segment of society. The only satisfaction I can draw from the coming ecological disasters is it's today's kids that'll have to deal with it.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 6, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Prof Ball is a climatologist in Canada. He admits Global Warming is fraud perpetrated by an entrenced scientific orthadoxy. Look it up. Posted by: egbert

Regardless of the cheeseheads credentials and beliefs, hydrologists in the U.S. have been concerned with Western drought for more than five years now as average snow pack has declined, temperatures have risen, and spring melt accelerated.

Chinatown wasn't just a movie. California's (hell, the whole SW of the US) growth in the 20th century has been based almost entirely on federally enabled mismanagement of water, whether it was diverting it to the central and southern valleys for irrigation or for municipal development along the coast.

Posted by: JeffII on April 6, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I very reluctantly moved to Arizona from California due to a child move-away case from the now overturned Marriage of Burgess.

Please do declare war on Arizona. There ain't no more horses here. We do have a meth epidemic. We have mayors (and democratic governors) that believe the more surveillance cameras the better. Our city counsels are owned lock, stock, and barrel by developers. It's so hot that communities are forced to build for cars and not for walking. Lots of malls. Lots of fast foods. The best restaurants are AT the malls. Lots of obesity. Lots of very bored kids that have little to do but buy things at malls, eat fast food, do drugs.

Lots of pollution. The nation's biggest nuclear power plant AND one of it's worst in terms of safety ratings.

Very little fresh food. Skin cancer ratings that rival only Australia. Dust & Particulate pollution.

Very little in terms of diversity of employment. You're and engineer and you don't like the company you work for? There are not a whole lot of choice. Engineers basically cycle from Intel->Motorola->Honeywell->American Express->Schwab. Not a lot of diversity in choice of industries, and most of these companies are located very far apart.

Please! Declare war on us. Nuke us from orbit.

Posted by: anon on April 6, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, with all the ice melts - there will be more ocean to go around.

And it will be much closer to Arizona.

Posted by: klyde on April 6, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for Washington and Oregon to secede and form Ecotopia with British Columbia.
...and Minnesota and Michigan will join Ontario to form VeryExpensiveWaterLand.

Posted by: apm on April 6, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Chinatown wasn't just a movie.

In fact, the manipulated "water shortage" actually happened; as did the use of the manipulated "water shortage" to enable LA bigwigs to buy San Fernando Valley properties at low prices, and take advantage when the bond to bring water to LA was approved by voters. It was basically a criminal conspiracy by all LA civic leaders, including the owners of the LA Times.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 6, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

You don't need a good excuse to declare war...just draft duh byah for governor in 2009 and Cheney for lieutenant gov. They'll take it from there. By 2010 all the media will be carrying pictures of the citizens of Las Vegas pulling Vegas Vic down under the watchful eyes of California National Guard.

Posted by: majun on April 6, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

If CA can pump water OUT of the Pacific at the same rate as the melting polar ice-caps are putting it IN, everything should work out OK, no? Heck, given the dangers of rising seas, it's practically a moral imperative. De-salinization, here we come!

Posted by: MadLad on April 6, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

The late great Ed Abbey wrote a book about this. Arizonans led by a brain damaged general marching to the northeast to find water. It wasn't his best, but it was thought provoking. Too bad no one ever listened to Ed when he was alive.

Posted by: stuart on April 6, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks blue girl. Quoting professor Ball and believing what he says is akin to believing that guy who was the info minister for Iraq while american forces were bearing down on Baghdad he kept saying were winning. It's the usual big oil and repub tactic. If you say something often enough there's a whole lot of dumbasses that'll believe you.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 6, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

This might take care of the illegal alien problem and save the expense of erecting a fence. If those to the south have to cross 500 miles of inhospitable desert to get into the habitable portions of the U.S. the trip might be too deadly to attempt.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 6, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"All we need now is a good excuse."

Nonsense -- We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. We need no excuses -- and if there is even a one percent chance that Arizona and Vegas could interfere with California's God-given water, then we are not only permitted, but required to act accordingly. If we don't fight them there, we'll be fighting them here.

Posted by: smartalek on April 6, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Given that the Colorado River Compact was negotiated in the 1920s - one of the wettest periods in the geological record of the Southwest - the Water Wars will become real as upstream states start claiming their "due". This will be particularly difficult when the amount of water each state can take is already at 150% of what the Colorado River has in it now.

Watching all those Republican ex-urbs dry up and blow away doesn't make me particularly sad, though. We need to hang out the "No Vacancy" sign on the California border now.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 6, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I don't plan on leaving the Great Lakes watershed.

The downside is that we'll have to develop our own GL military to protect the largest fresh water supply in the world.

Posted by: Disputo on April 6, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

All we need now is a good excuse.

You mean a good excuse like Bush had for Iraq?

Posted by: tomeck on April 6, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK
With some modifications, at less cost than a water war, these power plants could be adapted to desalination plants, and produce a few hundred thousand gallons of fresh water every month. that's not a complete solution, but it's a start.

A few hundred thousand gallons a month wouldn't even begin to be noticeable in this state: California has a per capita freshwater use somewhere on the rough order of 1,000 gallons per day, and a population on the order of 30 million, a total freshwater consumption in the neighborhood of a trillion gallons a month.

A couple hundred thousand gallons more supply per month isn't even a start at addressing any substantial supply problem in a system on that scale.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

We should probably levy a tax on living in the southwest, such as southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. It is the best way to reduce the population there.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on April 6, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

A few hundred thousand gallons a month wouldn't even begin to be noticeable in this state

True, but it would help irrigate a nice little vegetable patch near the side door of San Onofre where workers could grow giant growing lettuce heads for their sandwiches.

And what is Matthew Marler but a giant, glowing lettuce head?

Posted by: I ask you on April 6, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"I guess that leaves us Californians no choice: it's time to declare war on Arizona. And Las Vegas. All we need now is a good excuse."

Some people say that Osama bin Laden was spotted at the craps table at Caesar's Palace last Thursday.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 6, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Good excuse? Let's get the Maloof's to move the Sacramento Kings there, then claim that the team had been 'captured and detained' by the Las Vegans. Storm up through Barstow before you can say "Gulf of Tonkin." Reno will probably ditch NV for CA at the first show of force. They'll welcome us with open arms...

Posted by: collin on April 6, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"We should probably levy a tax on living in the southwest, such as southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. It is the best way to reduce the population there.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on April 6, 2007 at 2:17 PM"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
How about offering incentives to get sterilized? Pay citizens to get a tubal ligation or vasectomy combined with a permanent tax break for those abstaining from having children. Personally I'd like to see this offered in all 50 states but the SW is a good region to start.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 6, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

steve duncan,

Why stop there? A quicker way to keep from using up all the water would be to subsidize homicide and/or suicide.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on April 6, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, homicide I'd favor if they were registered Republicans. I guess suicide would be OK for everyone regardless of party affiliation. Another great proposal to eventually extend to all 50 states!!

Posted by: steve duncan on April 6, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

No, Kevin, it's time to remember coastal LA is semidesert, and Riverside and San Bernardino are totally desert, and MOVE, or cut your water use drastically, by lots of wastewater recyling, etc.

Of course, when you DO move, many of you go to Vegas or Phoenix, which is stupider yet.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 6, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

As the recent book about the Dust Bowl points out, the dust wasn't due to drought alone but due to the plowing up of drought-resistant plants in order to plant wheat. Fields were abandoned when the price of wheat was no longer subsidized by the war effort, mortgages couldn't be paid, so fields were abandoned instead of planted and the top soil blew away. There is no reason why a simple drought (which happens many times) should result in huge dust storms, unless there is also poor soil management. Presumably that lesson was learned -- I do not see conditions for dust storms materializing, unless you know something more than what you said in your post.

Posted by: Perry on April 6, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK
And the Cascadian motto is: "Live Green or Die" Posted by: tiparillo on April 6, 2007 at 1:03 PM

I love that motto!

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 6, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: We should probably levy a tax on living in the southwest, such as southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Tax? Where's your faith in the market? We here in the rain soaked East will be happy to sell our desert dwelling friends some water, for the low, low price of $1/gallon.

Have a sunny day!

Posted by: alex on April 6, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I guess that leaves us Californians no choice: it's time to declare war on Arizona. And Las Vegas. All we need now is a good excuse.

I've forgotten the title, but I recall a SF story where two arcologies , Ellay and Denv, fight a perpetual war that it turns out started over water rights.

Posted by: Paul on April 6, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Found it!

C.M. Kornbluth’s short story "The Luckiest Man in Denv"

Posted by: Paul on April 6, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Remember that stuff about how the third world is going to get hit by global warming before us rich folks?"

cmdicely replied: "No. I do remember stuff about it causing more extreme problems there because the developed world is more able to deal with problems, if nothing else by increasing coercive pressures on the third world. I don't recall any claims that generally the direct impacts would initially be focussed on the third world, though."

Kevin is correct on this one. The most recent IPCC reports do indeed project that the worst and earliest impacts of anthropogenic global warming will likely affect the regions of the world that happen to be inhabited by the world's poorest people -- "the developing world".

Southern Africa and Southern Asia are expected to be particularly hard hit by floods and droughts, resulting in famine and water shortages. South America could be dramatically impacted by the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, which is now known to be more vulnerable to climate change than was previously thought. And many of the world's largest coastal cities that will be the worst affected by sea level rise are in the developing world.

It is also true, as cmdicely notes, that the developing world will suffer more from these impacts due to the lack of resources for dealing with them.

The developed countries will still have serious impacts to deal with, which will increase over time due to the additional warming that is already locked in, for centuries to come, from the greenhouse gases that we have already added to the Earth's atmosphere.

If we fail to drastically reduce (by 60 to 80 percent) global GHG emissions within a very few years, and/or if self-reinforcing feedbacks kick in, the impacts of global warming will be such that even the richest and most developed nations on Earth will be overwhelmed, and anything resembling what we think of as "human civilization" is unlikely to survive.

Indeed, anything resembling the rich, diverse biosphere whose benign abundance the human species has enjoyed for tens of thousands of years is unlikely to survive.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 6, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler: Another part of the solution is to end or dramatically reduce the subsidized use of water for rice and maize cultivation.

No, no, no! Farmers are holy. It's their independent spirit that built America. That's why they need their government subsidies.

P.S. You forgot cotton. They grow that incredibly thirsty plant in Arizona. There's a world glut, and they get cotton subsidies on top of the subsidized water. "Free markets" are only for those un-American chumps that don't farm.

By 2050, the target date for the perpetual drought, San Diego and the other coastal cities could be getting their entire drinking water supply from the ocean. Similarly Tijuana, Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland.

Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland? Methinks the Cascadians are in much better shape than the desert dwellers.

Posted by: alex on April 6, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "I guess that leaves us Californians no choice: it's time to declare war on Arizona. And Las Vegas. All we need now is a good excuse."

You say this now with levity, but I think it is likely that there will be shooting wars over water supplies in the American west in our lifetimes.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 6, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

If you haven't read it yet, now would be a good time to get a copy of Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner. This is an old problem, it's just getting worse much faster than most of us imagined it would.

Posted by: rod on April 6, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't just the SW that may be experiencing water wars. Today's St Paul Pioneer Press predicts that Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, is also facing water shortages.

"The study, the first of its kind here, said counties from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud already place significant demands on water supplies. With the state's population projected to grow by 26 percent by 2030, those demands will increase, putting more pressure on governments to make better use of available water, Wells said."

And I bet that that prediction of 26% population growth (yowsers!) doesn't factor in a couple million refugees from the SW water wars.

Posted by: PTate in FR on April 6, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland? Methinks the Cascadians are in much better shape than the desert dwellers. Posted by: alex

One of the great myths about the PNW is that it rains 300 days a year here. The Puget Sound Basin's summer climate is turning positively Mediterranean - we get very little rain July-September. Seattle averages less than 35" of rain a year. Chicago, SF, and NYC all get more rain than Seattle. Yes, portions of the Olympics and Cascades get more than 100" of rain and anywhere from 20'-40' feet of snow over the winter. But cross the Cascades, and Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon are semi-arid, and the population there is growing at the same rate as west of the mountains.

Ice caves and glaciers are receding rapidly on Mt. Rainier. We used to have an 8,000' snow line with a snow pack sufficient for skiing into May and summer ski camps in June. The snow line is probably closer to 10,000' now, and most areas have no snow by the end of April.

Stream flows for the Columbia River Basin (with the bulk of the water in the river coming from Canada) are fought over by farmers, power generators, and fish management people. Guess which group has been on the short end of the stick for the last five decades?

No. We are beginning to have water problems here as well that will only get worse as the population grows and global warming reduces the winter snow pack.

Posted by: JeffII on April 6, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I don't plan on leaving the Great Lakes watershed . . . The downside is that we'll have to develop our own GL military to protect the largest fresh water supply in the world.

You know it, dude. A while back, round about the Reagan administration, the SW states had a plan to run water pipelines all the way from the Great Lakes to Arizona. So the SW was taken all the jobs away from the Midwestern "rust belt" and wanted us to pay for a pipeline to carry off our water along with even more jobs.

The Midwestern pols figured that one out in time and would not be bought off by the Reaganites.

"If you want our water, you will have to lick it off our cold, wet . . ." something or other.

Posted by: Berken on April 6, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

"...but going to war won't make more water available."

In fact, it has a nasty tendency to make it less available.

Posted by: s9 on April 6, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"This is why I don't plan on leaving the Great Lakes watershed.

The downside is that we'll have to develop our own GL military to protect the largest fresh water supply in the world."
Posted by: Disputo on April 6, 2007 at 2:08 PM

Maybe this could be the beginning of a turnaround for Michigan and the Detroit area in the future?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 6, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Or a reversal of the race to the "Sun Belt" that started in the '80's? Everybody racing away from it back to the "Rust Belt". Air conditioning is going to get more expensive.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 6, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

moved to Arizona from California

Arizona has many Californians now. Two things caused them to leave California and migrate to Arizona: earthquakes and the Rodney King race riot. Now Floridians are moving to Arizona beacause of all of the hurricanes.

I have been taught the Sonoran Desert is one of the most fertile places on earth, just add water. Perhaps Phoenix will become another Angkor Wat.

Posted by: Brojo on April 6, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK
Two things caused them to leave California and migrate to Arizona: earthquakes and the Rodney King race riot.

Every Californian I've known that's moved to Arizona, or even talked about considering moving to Arizona, has done so because they could sell a home in the part of California they live in and get a bigger one, on a larger plot of land, in Arizona. Or at least that's been a major consideration: being closer to family or attending a particular school has also been a factor in some cases.

None have mentioned earthquakes or Rodney King, though, again, most of them have been from someplace between the Bay Area and Sacramento, where earthquakes may be a concern, but the Rodney King riots less so in the kind of immediate sense it might be to people who lived closer to where they occurred.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

You know it, dude. A while back, round about the Reagan administration, the SW states had a plan to run water pipelines all the way from the Great Lakes to Arizona.

There's still talk of that.

The first thing we gotta do is stop giving it away and reverse the reversing of the flow of the Chicago river.

Posted by: Disputo on April 6, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo: I have been taught the Sonoran Desert is one of the most fertile places on earth, just add water.

Uh-huh. One of the most fertile places on earth, just add fertility. Similarly, Antarctica is very fertile, just add warmth.

Posted by: alex on April 6, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't read any of this. Just jumkping in so I'm sure this has all been said before.

Water wars already exist in the courts. I'm sure I remember articles about the coming conflict from the 80s at least, probably the 70s. Aquifers are being depleted with no idea about replacing the resource in the future. Vaste stupid use of water for agriculture, golf courses, and green grass in the desert.

And since it all came up so many years ago and NOTHING has been done, it says a lot about humans ability to deal with upcoming problems in a logical and timely way.

Which makes global warming almost a lost cause.

Alright. NOw I'll go read some.

Posted by: notthere on April 6, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: None have mentioned earthquakes

Of course they don't mention it. Ever since my brother moved out there 30 years ago, he hasn't enjoyed the rest of the family's jokes about buying beach front property in Nevada. And for some reason, he got downright testy about them around, oh, say 1989.

Posted by: alex on April 6, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Some Californians I know in AZ moved from LA because they were afraid.

It is true, though, that many Californians sold their homes and bought one in Phoenix and another in Prescott, or elsewere up north, for a summer retreat. I met someone while on jury duty who sold her CA home and bought a business in AZ.

Posted by: Brojo on April 6, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I should have said the Sonoran Desert has some of the most fertile soil on earth, but that it requires water.

Posted by: Brojo on April 6, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I don't plan on leaving the Great Lakes watershed....

Posted by: Disputo on April 6, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Can't say anything about the other lakes but Lake Superior is going down, evaporation is going up, particularly as winter freeze-over is shortening, summer teperatures going up, and N. MN rain going down. Last I heard the lake was about as low as it's been recorded. Then water demand has been rising, too.

Climate wise, there is always the possibility of this becoming different, but, right now, it's not pretty.

Less people, please.

Posted by: notthere on April 6, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

If the ocean is rising and the land is drying out the obvious answer seems to be to pump the water inland.

I think we should ring all the desert regions with New Jersey sized desalination plants.

It puts everyone on Earth on the same page.

Posted by: cld on April 6, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

I suggest we team up with the mormons and the casino owners and suck the Colorado dry at Lake Powell.

Posted by: B on April 6, 2007 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: A few hundred thousand gallons a month wouldn't even begin to be noticeable in this state:

That's just from two powerplants, and that would supply Camp Pendleton and the settled areas near Laguna Beach, plus the farming areas nearby. A few hundred thousand here, a few hundred thousand there, and soon you are talking about a lot of water. The water from San Onofre could be as noticeable as the electricity from San Onofre.

As with fuels to replace oil, the solution to this problem will entail many small and large sources of water.

Alex, glad you mentioned cotton.

Somebody up above wrote that air conditioning would probably get more expensive. However, when the price of PV cells falls, A/C will gradually start getting cheaper.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 6, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

That's just from two powerplants, and that would supply Camp Pendleton and the settled areas near Laguna Beach, plus the farming areas nearby.

No, it wouldn't. Look, at the per capita rate California consumes water, each 100,000 gallons/month supplies about 3 people. "Hundreds of thousands of gallons per month" is several orders of magnitude less than what would be necessary to supply Camp Pendleton, Laguna Beach, and nearby farming areas.

A few hundred thousand here, a few hundred thousand there, and soon you are talking about a lot of water.

A few hundred thousand gallons a month here, a few hundred thousand gallons a month there, and before too long you might get enough water to supply a small neigborhood. But there aren't enough coastal powerplants in CA for a few hundred thousand gallons a month from each to make a noticeable difference, in total, to California freshwater supply.

The water from San Onofre could be as noticeable as the electricity from San Onofre.

From looking around at various sources, San Onofre has a power generation capacity of somewhere between 2.15 and 2.35 GW. The historic peak demand for energy in California was 50.27 GW, of which San Onofre can supply over 1/25th.

Conversely, even reading "hundreds of thousands of gallons a month" generously as 1 million gallons/month, the water you suggest from San Onofre would still supply only on the rough order of 1/1,000,000th of California's water needs.

No, I don't think the water from San Onofre could be "as noticeable as the electricity" from the plant.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

The Wall Street Journal smears Al Gore:
"Consensus Science, the law, and Al Gore"

A response written by a Rapid Response Team member at AlGore.org

http://www.algore.org/blog/ suzan...am_contribution

Posted by: Suzanne Smith on April 6, 2007 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Conversely, even reading "hundreds of thousands of gallons a month" generously as 1 million gallons/month, the water you suggest from San Onofre would still supply only on the rough order of 1/1,000,000th of California's water needs.

that's enough water for 33 people. Plus the occasional golf course, I suppose.

I do agree with what I think is your main point: Each particular source of water is seemingly negligible. It hardly follows that no particular solution should be pursued. I started off talking about all of California's coastal power plants, all of which can be put to use in desalination water.

A few hundred thousand gallons a month here, a few hundred thousand gallons a month there, and before too long you might get enough water to supply a small neigborhood.

That's a good start. Especially if we do it before the water actually all runs out, or whatever. In my earlier posts I also referred to better use of the subsidy to agriculture, and to solar-powered desalination by the coastal cities. If every desalination plant, or other source/offset, as small as San Onofre or smaller is ignored, then the problem won't be solved.

Out in the Imperial Valley, San Diego County buys drip lines for farmers who are used to spray irrigation. It frees up a few hundred gallons here, and a few hundred gallons there, which San Diego buys. Over the whole valley, that's a lot of water. When the amount lost to the reduced flow and redistribution of Colorado River Water matches the amount that could be delivered from San Onofre, San Diego County will probably wish it had installed more desalination capacity, and perhaps someone will notice the wasted heat at the nuclear power plants.

If produced, the water would certainly be noticed.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 7, 2007 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

What's that 33,000 gallons per person per month? Does that include agricultural and industrial use on a per capita basis?

It can't possibly be an actual per person personal usage. 1,000 gallons per day!

Could it?

Anyway, off the top of my head, of the total useage agricultural use is disproportionately high, subsidised and wasfeful, unless things changed the last few years.

Of course, personal use is wasteful too but so is grass and golf courses, or building cities in the Arizona and Nevada deserts.

Makes me think back to the outdoor air-conditioning in Texas in the 70s. Before the gas crisis.

Yeah. That's really how clever we are. Too smart for our own survival.

Posted by: notthere on April 7, 2007 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

Just to echo MRM: cmdicely, your argument sounds a lot like, "that idea won't make the entire problem go away, therefore it isn't worth pursuing." It's the nature of conservation: every little bit counts, and it can only count if every little bit of waste is addressed. It isn't even about water, really. It's about energy use: waste heat is energy that could be used constructively for, among other things, desalinization.

Posted by: RobW on April 7, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

check out these:

http://www.lifestraw.com/en/high/maincont2.asp

Upscaled they can probably provide drinking water for communities.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 7, 2007 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't the Ogalla aquifier also getting sucked dry? I wonder how vast the water rights the Carlye Group owns are.

Posted by: private H20 on April 8, 2007 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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