Coming to a Theater Near You: The Greatest Water Crisis in the History of Civilization

WildfireWilliam deBuys writes at TomDispatch:

Consider it a taste of the future: the fire, smoke, drought, dust, and heat that have made life unpleasant, if not dangerous, from Louisiana to Los Angeles. New records tell the tale: biggest wildfire ever recorded in Arizona (538,049 acres), biggest fire ever in New Mexico (156,600 acres), all-time worst fire year in Texas history (3,697,000 acres).

The fires were a function of drought. As of summer’s end, 2011 was the driest year in 117 years of record keeping for New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, and the second driest for Oklahoma. Those fires also resulted from record heat.  It was the hottest summer ever recorded for New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, as well as the hottest August ever for those states, plus Arizona and Colorado.

Virtually every city in the region experienced unprecedented temperatures, with Phoenix, as usual, leading the march toward un-livability. This past summer, the so-called Valley of the Sun set a new record of 33 days when the mercury reached a shoe-melting 110º F or higher. (The previous record of 32 days was set in 2007.)

And here’s the bad news in a nutshell: if you live in the Southwest or just about anywhere in the American West, you or your children and grandchildren could soon enough be facing the Age of Thirst, which may also prove to be the greatest water crisis in the history of civilization.  No kidding.

Read more here.

, , , , ,

  • Anonymous

    Cue climate change “skeptics” in 3… 2… 1…

  • razzlebathbone

    Cue climate change “skeptics” in 3… 2… 1…

    • Frogboy

      0… -1… -2…

      By the way, why did you put “skeptics” in quotes?

      • razzlebathbone

        A skeptic changes their views to fit the available facts.

        A “skeptic” distorts, cherry-picks and ignores the available facts to fit their views.

        • Frogboy

          Ah, I see.  Makes sense.

  • BP_Sucks

    The above article does a good job point out climatic impacts to the hydrologic cycle, but water usage needs to be addressed in the west, the common water law of, “use it or lose it” is counter to allowing population centers to exist much longer in the area. The hydrological cycle is no longer viewed as
    infinite but instead finite. The reason is due to our life style choices, i.e.,
    poor agricultural and industrial practices, urbanization, and personal
    consumption decisions, etc. Simply, we are using more than can be replenished
    naturally. An example is the use of aquifers, which provide a reliable fresh
    water resource. The withdraw rate happens at an exponential rate compared to
    the amount of geologic time required for complete replenishment.  Scientists have calculated that
    after depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, complete recharge by natural processes
    can occur within six thousand years. The Ogallala Aquifer supports a total of eight states, two of which are discussed in the above article (NM and TX). This time frame will make living
    in areas that use the Ogallala Aquifer no longer feasible.  Additionally, the lack of Best Management Practices for farmers,
    industries, and municipal uses is appalling. In California, poor BMPs have
    resulted in water usage being subsidized for agriculture and municipal uses.
    The result, water usage is basically a free ride for all users and therefore
    encourages wasteful practices. Even during droughts many cities still apply a flat
    fee; meaning conservation could not be created nor enforced. These are just a
    few issues regarding humans and water. The sooner humanity collectively
    realizes that water is a finite resource and water usage practices combined with climate change are some of
    the greatest threats to the survival of our species, the sooner meaningful and
    lasting change can occur….Maybe that is too optimistic to think.

  • BP_Sucks

    The above article does a good job point out climatic impacts to the hydrologic cycle, but water usage needs to be addressed in the west, the common water law of, “use it or lose it” is counter to allowing population centers to exist much longer in the area. The hydrological cycle is no longer viewed as
    infinite but instead finite. The reason is due to our life style choices, i.e.,
    poor agricultural and industrial practices, urbanization, and personal
    consumption decisions, etc. Simply, we are using more than can be replenished
    naturally. An example is the use of aquifers, which provide a reliable fresh
    water resource. The withdraw rate happens at an exponential rate compared to
    the amount of geologic time required for complete replenishment.  Scientists have calculated that
    after depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, complete recharge by natural processes
    can occur within six thousand years. The Ogallala Aquifer supports a total of eight states, two of which are discussed in the above article (NM and TX). This time frame will make living
    in areas that use the Ogallala Aquifer no longer feasible.  Additionally, the lack of Best Management Practices for farmers,
    industries, and municipal uses is appalling. In California, poor BMPs have
    resulted in water usage being subsidized for agriculture and municipal uses.
    The result, water usage is basically a free ride for all users and therefore
    encourages wasteful practices. Even during droughts many cities still apply a flat
    fee; meaning conservation could not be created nor enforced. These are just a
    few issues regarding humans and water. The sooner humanity collectively
    realizes that water is a finite resource and water usage practices combined with climate change are some of
    the greatest threats to the survival of our species, the sooner meaningful and
    lasting change can occur….Maybe that is too optimistic to think.

  • chubby

    check out the book cadillac desert. this past summer here in northern az, the windmills dried up and there was no water for livestock, so the wild horses were rounded up first (over 150 just in just one small area), but since livestock are a symbol of wealth round these parts, hardly anyone one will acknowledge the domestic contribution to desertification, the cows eat the whole darn plant and leave nothing for the process of transpiration. which allows the topsoil to erode or blow away, and this is only in the last 20 years or so, even the town of flagstaff az has completely transformed, used to be an incredible profusion of trees up to the road, blocking out the sun and sky, now one can literally count them….

  • chubby

    check out the book cadillac desert. this past summer here in northern az, the windmills dried up and there was no water for livestock, so the wild horses were rounded up first (over 150 just in just one small area), but since livestock are a symbol of wealth round these parts, hardly anyone one will acknowledge the domestic contribution to desertification, the cows eat the whole darn plant and leave nothing for the process of transpiration. which allows the topsoil to erode or blow away, and this is only in the last 20 years or so, even the town of flagstaff az has completely transformed, used to be an incredible profusion of trees up to the road, blocking out the sun and sky, now one can literally count them….

  • Mr Willow

    So in the dystopia we are all headed for, we could not only be fighting roving gangs for gasoline (as in Mad Max)—because of our current refusal to really address the need for alternative energy sources—but also fighting roving gangs for water and/or contend with rich guys hoarding it (a la Trigun)? 

    I will be practicing my quick-draw.

  • Mr Willow

    So in the dystopia we are all headed for, we could not only be fighting roving gangs for gasoline (as in Mad Max)—because of our current refusal to really address the need for alternative energy sources—but also fighting roving gangs for water and/or contend with rich guys hoarding it (a la Trigun)? 

    I will be practicing my quick-draw.

  • Mr Willow

    So in the dystopia we are all headed for, we could not only be fighting roving gangs for gasoline (as in Mad Max)—because of our current refusal to really address the need for alternative energy sources—but also fighting roving gangs for water and/or contend with rich guys hoarding it (a la Trigun)? 

    I will be practicing my quick-draw.

    • chubby

       at navajo mountain, on the utah arizona border, they just recently completed a paved highway all the way to the mountain and community there. soon after, they started construction on a water pipe that is on the east side of the road, very hardcore, all covered in weather proof coating and built to last, the water pipe literally cuts through cliffs sides and drops into the canyons on the east side of the road over a thousand feet deep. this is one of the last few pristine (not anymore), beautiful and wild places i know, the pipe runs up to a huge water tank coated in the same weatherproofing (all green and blending in) that is adjacent to the road and is set up to load the water into trucks. now, this was not mentioned in any local newspaper or even debated upon (last year the navajo council wrote into law a water settlement quickly before protest could occur). the pipe was completed before there was even any vote on the matter, so whoever constructed it knew it was going to pass and with the recent reduction of an 88 member council to now only 24 insures an easier passage for future developments of the same sort (the navajo have already sold out their own). one strange thing is the road to navajo mountain has mile markers on the right side, and also now has kilometer markers on the left side. I am assuming that such things are happening all over, the powers that be are consolidating these things to insure their security because believe me, they know what is happening.

  • chubby

     at navajo mountain, on the utah arizona border, they just recently completed a paved highway all the way to the mountain and community there. soon after, they started construction on a water pipe that is on the east side of the road, very hardcore, all covered in weather proof coating and built to last, the water pipe literally cuts through cliffs sides and drops into the canyons on the east side of the road over a thousand feet deep. this is one of the last few pristine (not anymore), beautiful and wild places i know, the pipe runs up to a huge water tank coated in the same weatherproofing (all green and blending in) that is adjacent to the road and is set up to load the water into trucks. now, this was not mentioned in any local newspaper or even debated upon (last year the navajo council wrote into law a water settlement quickly before protest could occur). the pipe was completed before there was even any vote on the matter, so whoever constructed it knew it was going to pass and with the recent reduction of an 88 member council to now only 24 insures an easier passage for future developments of the same sort (the navajo have already sold out their own). one strange thing is the road to navajo mountain has mile markers on the right side, and also now has kilometer markers on the left side. I am assuming that such things are happening all over, the powers that be are consolidating these things to insure their security because believe me, they know what is happening.

  • Frogboy

    0… -1… -2…

    By the way, why did you put “skeptics” in quotes?

  • Anonymous

    A skeptic changes their views to fit the available facts.

    A “skeptic” distorts, cherry-picks and ignores the available facts to fit their views.

  • Anonymous

    A skeptic changes their views to fit the available facts.

    A “skeptic” distorts, cherry-picks and ignores the available facts to fit their views.

  • Frogboy

    Ah, I see.  Makes sense.

21