Is water a commodity?

❝ Is water a commodity?

❝ It’s a question that more and more investors are asking these days. The media has been full of stories about rising water scarcity: water lawsuits in the American Southwest; growing demand for water for ethanol plants; drought conditions in key grain-producing countries like Australia. Water’s role in the global economy is becoming both more real, and more visible.

It’s not entirely a new idea. An article in Fortune Magazine back in May of 2000 stated, “Water promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th century: the precious commodity that determines the wealth of nations.”

❝ Really? Is water a commodity?

RTFA for more questions, more answers.

The water crisis government swamp-dwellers wanted to hide

The government just released a huge study about chemicals. Mazel tov! You made it through the most boring part of this article. Now for the fun stuff: The Trump administration didn’t want you to see the results of this study.

As you go about your daily business, you’re surrounded by compounds called perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS. They’re used in carpeting, food packaging, clothing, pots and pans, and the foam firefighters use to douse flames, to name a few. That’s because PFAS are resistant to heat, water, and oil. They’re incredibly helpful! They’re also toxic.

According to a major study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, the EPA has seriously underestimated how much of this stuff human beings can safely be exposed to. The major takeaway? PFAS have thoroughly contaminated many of the nation’s water sources, and they are associated with cancer, liver damage, fertility issues, and more — even in small doses. The study is the most fleshed-out assessment of information on PFAS to date, and it found that the EPA’s exposure limits should be 10 times lower than they are now.

RTFA and learn how EPA chief Scott Pruitt and our Fake President tried to block its publication in the first place.

Water War A’Coming – Who Wins, Who Loses?


Education Images/UIG

❝ Lake Mead is the country’s biggest reservoir of water. Think of it as the savings account for the entire Southwest. Right now, that savings account is nearly overdrawn.

For generations, we’ve been using too much of the Colorado River, the 300-foot-wide ribbon of water that carved the Grand Canyon, supplies Lake Mead, and serves as the main water source for much of the American West.

The river sustains one in eight Americans — about 40 million people — and millions of acres of farmland…snowpack in the Rockies has been dwindling, and there’s no physical way for them to store the water they depend on. There are no big reservoirs in the Rockies…

❝ And then there’s always climate change. On the world’s current emissions trajectory, sharply warming temperatures boost the odds of a megadrought in the Southwest sometime later this century to more than 99 percent. Such a drought would last a generation. Nearly all trees in the Southwest could die. The scale of the disaster would have the power to reshape the course of U.S. history.

❝ For now, the spat over the Colorado River offers a glimpse into water politics in an era of permanent scarcity.

Our little community in La Cieneguilla is well situated to survive a water war. Geology is on our side. So what? We have neighbors in the county, in the state, who will move to logical and kindly, illegal and greedy, solutions depending upon timely local politics.

Gird your loins wherever you may be in [or near] the Southwest. Hopefully, common sense and decency prevail.

How do you feed the Whole Earth After the Apocalypse?

❝ How might government prepare for a worst-case scenario?

This is a question Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, and electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University, began to think about while working on providing low-cost drinking water to the developing world. He found the prospect of disaster terrifying. “This would make us no better off than the dinosaurs, despite all of our technical progress,” he told me. “Humanity is too smart for that.”…

❝ Pearce partnered with David Denkenberger, a research associate at the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute. They looked around for detailed existing solutions and found just one: storing lots of food. But that, the two engineers realized, would probably feed the global population for a year or less.

So they developed a set of solutions that they believe would provide five years of food for the Earth’s population, and published a book about it called Feeding Everyone No Matter What. I spoke to Pearce to find out some of the very gooey ways we might survive the apocalypse.

What kinds of disasters do you think about?

❝ Let me take the most likely one: the nuclear winter case…As the world went dark, you’d have a couple of the more hearty crops survive — the trees would last a little while. But our standard crops? Your wheat, your rice, your corn? That’s all dead…As those crops fail, you’ll start to get hungry; you’ll start going into your stored food supplies…There’s no good outcome there. That darkness will basically stay for around five years, until it starts to rain out of the atmosphere and then we’ll slowly but surely get more and more sunlight and start to rejuvenate agriculture again.

❝ There are many things that you can eat that we don’t normally consider food, particularly in the west. Leaves are one of them. You can eat leaves. You just have to be careful about how you do it. Leaves are high in fiber and we can’t digest any more than half of it, but if you chew the leaves and spit out the fiber you can draw out nutrients from it. Or you can make teas…and it goes from there.

From mushrooms to insects, stuff living in the oceans to bacteria, all get their share of providing subsistence for us superior mammals. An interesting read. Especially the bits about items already accepted as food – just not in Dallas.

How America looked like before the EPA cleaned it up

This is what America looked like before the EPA cleaned it up…It wasn’t pretty


Outflow Pipe from the Oxford Paper Company into Androscoggin River

❝ In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It was a time when pollution made many of our nation’s rivers and streams unsafe for fishing or swimming. Back then, New York City’s air pollution was so thick that you often couldn’t see the city’s iconic bridges. Forty-seven years later, there is serious talk of dismantling the agency, or at least slashing its size by two-thirds.

A present from populist America. Racism and bigotry wasn’t enough.

❝ But what does America look like without the EPA?

❝ From 1971 to 1977 the nascent agency, in an act of prescience, enlisted the services of freelance photographers to help us remember. These photographers captured images of America’s environmental problems before we’d cleaned them up. In 2011, the US National Archives digitized more than 15,000 pictures from the series “Documerica”. Here are some of the most compelling.

…Please read our series on the EPA past and present. It begins here.

Or you could work at putting Trump and his chumps in charge for several years. They will bring all this poison back into our lives.

Montana city asks residents to limit water use to help coal-fired power company — WTF?


Click to enlargeBilling Gazette

Residents of an eastern Montana city are being asked to limit their water use so one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. can continue to safely operate.

Colstrip Mayor John Williams asked the city’s 2,300 residents to minimize their use of water for sprinkling and irrigation through the end of August.

The notice came at the request of Talen Energy, a Pennsylvania company that operates the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip power plant.

Williams says low water levels and high temperatures have been causing problems with Talen’s water intake system on the Yellowstone River.

The company uses the water to cool its plant. It also provides water for the city under a longstanding agreement.

Talen spokesman Todd Martin said Tuesday there is no danger of the plant shutting down.

No danger of a shutdown till folks get bright enough to make the connection between climate change and the power plant needing more water. “Safely operate” means safe for profits to keep flowing.

Thanks, nikiv

The high-tech desert


Click to enlargeDamon Winter/NY Times

When Bart Fisher returned home from college in 1972, his family’s alfalfa fields outside Blythe in California’s southeastern desert produced 7 tons of alfalfa per acre. Today, the Fishers get 10 tons per acre from the same land. They do it with the same amount of water as a much younger Fisher and his family used four decades ago.

Growing water-use efficiency on farms like Fisher’s is one of the salient features of the evolution of agriculture in the developed world. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Palo Verde and the desert agricultural valleys of southwestern North America. These regions challenge two common narratives about water. The first is that we are blind to a looming disaster…The second narrative, common among the technocrats who manage our water systems and the engineering enthusiasts who design them, is that inexorable growth of our population and economy inevitably means that we need more water – bigger dams, new desalination plants, new canals across the continent from wet to dry places, even icebergs towed from the arctic.

Both narratives hang on a central premise – that more people and more economic activity inevitably means we’ll need more water. Recent experience in the United States southwest suggests both narratives need to be revisited.

In California, farm water use has declined by 40 percent since the 1980s, even as irrigated acreage has risen. Farmers like Fisher are growing more food with less water, with some of the saved water being shifted to cities, and modest steps are being made toward returning some of that water to the environment.

In cities too, water use is going down. Every one of the region’s major urban areas that once depended on unsustainable groundwater mining has turned the corner. Conservation and shifts to relatively more sustainable sources of supplies have led to aquifers beneath Los Angeles, the sunbelt of Central Arizona, and Las Vegas that have stabilized or in some cases are rising.

RTFA for lots more detail and discussion. Seriously. This is a long and very informative article. Worth the read. Worth reflecting upon.