Aeon of the Waterbearers

Off the keyboard & camera of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 29, 2014

Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

Riding the Electra Glide in Black

Before beginning, homage to my fellow Diner WHD, who I shamelessly ripped of the titling from for this essay. 🙂 WHD often talks in spiritual terms about the importance of Water as a resource, and it’s worthwhile to visit his Blog Off the Grid in Minneapolis to find out more. I won’t be talking Spirituality here, not my bailiwick. Just the practical issues surrounding the water problems we now face, which in many respects are even greater than the Energy issues, though the two are integrally related of course.

Also, an homage to another fellow Diner Eddie, who provided the inspiration for this piece. Eddie has a Doomstead down in Texas, in the heart of Droughtland USA, and has been praying for the El Nino this year to bring more water to his parched landscape. Regualar readers know we recently held our first Diner Convocation at Eddie’s place, so there are plenty of pictures I can drop on here.

Central Texas Landscape

As you can see here at right, the area is not yet a DESERT, there is still plenty of greenery, but you also can see it is pretty dry as well. Without a good water conservation system, doing much growing of food under these type of dry land conditions is pretty difficult.

Matanuska River, Alaska

On the other hand, as the above video indicates, a lack of water is about the LAST problem Alaska has at the moment, recent rains over the last 10 days or so have swollen many of the local rivers, and the local plant life is THRIVING.

This disparity in water distribution is not just between Texas and Alaska of course, for instance most of the Middle East has been in severe drought for several years, while on the other hand in many places in East Asia such as China and Thailand, they have been subject to Biblical Level Flooding events.

After more than 40 Days & 40 Nights of rain, southwest China’s Guizhou province is basically a swamp at the moment. From Russia Today:

Rainstorms and floods sweeping eastern and southern China since mid-June have left 14 people dead, four missing and up to 3 million people affected. The cost of the flooding is estimated at $250 million in one province alone.

China’s central Hunan Province was one of the worst hit, where seven people died. Also badly affected was Jiangxi province in the east where another five people lost their lives and in Guangxi Zhuang, an autonomous region in the south of the country, where another two people perished, China’s Xinhua news agency reports.

In Hunan a total of ten cities and 47 counties were affected by the rainstorms and 171,000 people have had to be relocated. The economic cost to the region is $251 million, with 122,700 hectares of crops damaged.

Residents make their way through a heavily-flooded street in Anshun city in Pingba county, southwest China's Guizhou province on June 3, 2014. (AFP Photo)

Why are we seeing such extremes to both sides as we move along with Climate change? Basically because increased energy in the total system is not distributed out evenly across the globe, and weather patterns change as more energy is available to the system as a whole. Regardless of debates about whether there is overall Atmospheric Warming occurring, the main driver for Weather, the Earth Oceans has been on a steady rise in total Heat Content for more than 20 years now.

The results of this have been quite clear, more extreme Weather Events more often in more places, like Superstorm Sandy and Taiphoon Haiyan in the Phillipines recently.

On the other side of the coin, you have the ongoing drought in Central California farm country and the midwest of the FSoA, which will put a major crimp on Food Production for as long as it continues, which may be quite a while here.

So clearly we have problems here, the question is how to best try to resolve them?

The first most obvious thing is to try and identify the areas which are receiving the right amounts of precipitation to continue outdoor growing methods, aka FARMING. Some areas are clearly no good anymore for this, and the best way to identify the areas that still are good is to look at Global Precipitation maps. is fairly obvious here is that the main areas for Farming need to be moved northward, as these areas are still receiving good rainfall totals. There are soil issues as you move north, but these are not insurmountable problems, and in fact in some areas in the far north like Palmer, Alaska, soil is already pretty good around this location. Alaska farms regularly produce World Record veggies in terms of size because of the long days during the relatively short growing season.

Supplementing poor soil has already been done, the Irish did it by harvesting Seaweed and laying it over the rocky Irish Soil. Permaculture methods can enhance soil fertility anywhere. Mulching of waste, Humanure, all things are possible to make the soil better for growing in areas where the current soil does not support food crops.

However, you do not have to JUST move North to Alaska here to find still good growing locations, because BETWEEN every neighborhood receiving TOO LITTLE precipitation and another one receiving TOO MUCH precip, there is always a strip of land receiving just the RIGHT amount of precip for outdoor food production.

If you currently live in a Purple Zone, GTFO of Dodge NOW! This is a REALLY bad place to live. Move to a Yellow or Green neighborhood. They are still getting water!

After you look at moving to a better Water Neighborhood, the next thing to consider is water conservation, recycling and Indoor Food Production techniques like Hydroponics.

Yields on hydroponic production can achieve 40X Industrial Farming, using 10% of the Water and Fertilizer. It all gets recycled through the system. So even in currently marginal growing neighborhoods outdoors, under Greenhouses substantial food could be grown to replace that lost to drought areas and the collapse of Industrial Agriculture.

Then it is also possible to enhance the amount of water you can access through atmospheric condensation. Greater Ocean Heat Content puts ever more Water Vapor up into the atmosphere, You just need means and methods to access this supply of Fresh Water. There are various methods for doing this, a Low Tech Method is the WarkaWater system.

Besides the Low Tech ideas here, my friend Ugo Bardi on Resource Limits has his own more High Tech solution using Photovoltaics.

‘Now, I am not a big fan of Photovolatic systems, because they really depend on the Global Supply chain to keep functioning, which I think is unlikely past around a decade long timeline or so. However, if impelmented within that timeline, this type of method could serve to ameliorate water deficiencies in many neighborhoods, so is worth pursuing here.

Reduction in water availability does not only affect the food supply, though that is probably the most paramount danger here from this part of the collapse. The lack of water also affects Energy Production, because through large Hydroelectric plants like the Hoover Dam. Currently, the water level in Lake Mead is no more than 15’ above the level needed to keep the turbines at Hoover functional.

That’s not looking too good, now is it? Remains to be seen if this is the year HOOVER SHUTS DOWN, but it looks quite likely at this point. Lake Mead doesn’t just supply SoCal with drinking water for places like San Jose and LA, it also provides a decent percentage of their Electricity via Hydroelectric Turbines!

Hoover Dam generates, on average, about 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year for use in Nevada, Arizona, and California – enough to serve 1.3 million people. From 1939 to 1949, Hoover Powerplant was the world’s largest hydroelectric installation; today, it is still one of the country’s largest.

If/when Hoover goes down, all of SoCal will need to replace this basically “free energy” by burning still MORE fossil fuels, which obviously they can’t afford to do. They can’t keep pumping Colorado River water to Central California lettuce fields the day after Hoover has to shut down the Turbines. This exercise in GeoEngineering passes in to HISTORY at this point.

There are smaller mirrors of this problem everywhere. For much of the growing regions of the FSoA, to have enough water to run the “Green Revolution”, they are pumping dry the Ogallalla Aquifer. The deeper the water table sinks, the MORE energy it takes to drag up the water.

It is wholly unreasonable to expect we can continue to draw more water from Ogallalla. It is also unreasonable to expect that Lake Mead will magically refill here any time too soon. Our future depends on finding alternative means to depending on these sources of water to maintain Industiral Ag.

There ARE alternatives to this, they CAN still be implemented by the Water Bearers, the People on Earth who still realize and understand that WATER is much more important for our survival than any Natural Gas field we might Frack Up still.

The FSoA Goobermint will not acknowledge this problem or do anything about it until it is TOO LATE. It is up to the Water Bearers to make a stand, and put a STOP to the destruction of our Habitat by the Energy Industry. This can be done, by working together and not giving up. One last chance left here folks, if you don’t step up to the plate, we are done for.

Kidz know what is important. The WATER.



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