National Geographic News

Brian Clark Howard

National Geographic

Published August 15, 2014

FRESNO, California—When Floyd Arthur moved to California's Central Valley as a child in the mid-20th century, his migrant worker parents found water by digging just a few feet into the ground.

But now, the drilling company Arthur and his son own has to bore holes 1,000 or even 2,000 feet (300 to 600 meters) deep for water.

"If we don't get a bigger snowpack soon, we're going to be in trouble. I don't know what we're going to do," Arthur said about the most serious drought in California's recorded history. (See "New Technology Measures Snowpack Amid California Drought.")

The Arthurs run just one company that is working around the clock to fulfill the booming demand for new wells in California's Central Valley. As the state feels the pressure of a drought with no end in sight, farmers and landowners who no longer have access to surface water are spending millions of dollars to dig increasingly deep wells.

But experts warn that the new rush for water is unsustainable and that it carries serious consequences for the environment and the future.

These days, Floyd Arthur spends most of his time in retirement, while his son Steve Arthur, 54, leads Arthur Orum, their company of about 30 employees. Arthur's brother-in-law Orvel Orum retired in 1989.

Speaking from the firm's low-slung office building and equipment yard outside Fresno, Steve Arthur said his team "has never been busier." He said farmers, livestock growers, and homeowners who want his company to install a new well for them have to wait 12 or 13 months. The two binders that hold the contracts of those on the waiting list are both four inches (ten centimeters) thick.

"If I sleep three to four hours in a night, I consider myself lucky," Arthur said.

That's because his half-dozen drilling rigs often work through the night, and his cell phone rings constantly with questions and pleas to troubleshoot problems. While inspecting a dusty job site in a cornfield, Arthur glanced at his phone and saw that he had seven new messages. One of them was from a TV producer who wants to talk to him about a possible reality show.

"Farmers are going crazy right now because they can't get enough wells," Arthur said. A few years ago, a well around 500 feet (150 meters) was plenty deep for the region, but no longer.

But deeper wells don't come cheap. Arthur & Orum charges an initial fee of $5,000 plus $225 per installed foot. All in all, once a 1,000-foot (300-meter) well is installed, tested, and fitted with pumps, it costs $300,000 to $350,000.

Photo of a man using a water well drill.
Drillers are pushing ever deeper into the Central Valley, with many current projects exceeding 2,000 feet (600 meters). Such wells cost $300,000 to $400,000 by the time they are operational.
Photograph by Spencer Millsap, National Geographic

No Choice But to Drill

Steve Hettinga is one of those farmers willing to pay for the chance at a new water supply. The young man with a goatee and a firm handshake oversees his family's 3,000 acres of crops and 10,000 dairy cows on flat, sun-kissed plains about an hour south of Fresno.

"It's risky because we don't know for sure that we're going to find any water," Hettinga said about a new 1,000-foot-deep (300-meter) well the Arthurs are drilling on his property. "And with a deeper well, we have to put bigger pumps in, so it costs more. We'll eventually have to pass the increases down to our customers."

Hettinga pointed to a collection of weathered pipes and tanks about a hundred yards (91 meters) away from the active drilling site. That previous well was 400 feet (120 meters) deep, but it went dry about a year and a half ago. Hettinga quickly put in an order with the Arthurs for a deeper well, but it took the drillers this long to fit it into their busy schedule.

In the meantime, Hettinga and his family fallowed some of their fields and did their best to ration the water they had from other wells on their property.

Hettinga is hopeful the deeper well will buy his farm more time, but he admitted that he worries about water for the future. "If we don't get any rain, [the aquifer] is not going to recharge," he said, as he looked out at the horizon, toward a cowboy and dog herding some of his family's black-and-white cattle.

Steve Arthur spent the rest of the morning inspecting the drilling site for a 720-foot-deep (220-meter) well in another farmer's orange grove. Across the road, the ground was dry and cracked.

Next, Arthur checked on another crew drilling a 400-foot (120-meter) well for a home on the outskirts of Selma, just down the road from his own house. His customer's contemporary, two-story home was surrounded by fields of plump grapes.

Over the past few years, the Arthurs have received many calls for new domestic wells, thanks to the drought and falling water tables. The crisis even hit Arthur & Orum itself, after the company's office well ran dry.

In the increasingly arid Central Valley, "we have no choice but to drill more wells and chase the water down," Arthur said.

Photo of Simon welding a pipe on a water drilling rig.
Work on the rigs is hot and dangerous. Leaks are frequent and often require welding on the spot.
Photograph by Spencer Millsap, National Geographic

Pushing It to the Limits

Asked if he worries about butting up against an upper limit to the region's groundwater, Arthur said that "it might be a problem for the next generation." (See "Epic California Drought and Groundwater: Where Do We Go From Here?")

He added that he also worries how long people can afford to keep paying for his services. The Central Valley "feeds the world," he said, providing about half of the U.S.'s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. But it needs water to do so. (See "California Report Warns of Worsening Economic Impacts of Drought.")

Even more immediately, Arthur said his firm is "pushing its equipment right to the limit." Each of his drill rigs costs $1 million new. They break down frequently due to the heavy schedule and the challenging work. It often takes months to get the specialized parts from manufacturers, so Arthur has taken to online and in-person auctions, often in other states, to keep his operation running.

It's even harder to keep workers. "The competition will often show up at a job site and offer my guys more money on the spot," Arthur said.

Farmers are going crazy right now because they can't get enough wells.

To combat this, Arthur pays his assistants about $12 an hour and his lead operators $100,000 to $150,000 a year. But he faces especially intense competition from out-of-state crews, which have flooded the Central Valley from Nevada, Arizona, and elsewhere.

"The out-of-towners are charging two to three times normal prices, and they don't have to meet California air-quality standards for their equipment," said Arthur. "They come in, do a job, and leave, so we often get called to fix their wells if they don't work right."

Farmers themselves are also trying to get in on the drilling boom. Some have begun buying their own rigs. But the expertise needed to run the complicated machinery has been in short supply, and it takes time to get the necessary licenses.

By the end of June, the Central Valley county of Tulare—the state's leader in agricultural production—had issued 874 well permits. That's 44 more than the county logged for all of 2013. According to a report released by the University of California, Davis, in mid-July, the state's food producers will see an estimated $1 billion in lost revenue and have to spend an additional $500 million in pumping costs this year due to the drought.

Photo of a water well drilling rig erupting.
A new well in an orange orchard outside Fresno gets cleaned with a soapy solution that gushes like a geyser thanks to the high pressure.
Photograph by Spencer Millsap, National Geographic

Sharing a Dwindling Resource?

At his office on the leafy campus of California State University, Sacramento, hydrogeologist Tim Horner said, "In California, we are pumping out groundwater faster than it can recharge."

Horner chairs his school's geology department and many of his former students have flocked to the Central Valley to search for water and advise drilling operations. But the science is hampered by the Golden State's antiquated regulatory structure, Horner said.

California is the only state Horner is aware of that does not require water well logs to be made available to scientists and regulators. In dry Texas, in contrast, well data must be posted online so that officials can track the status of aquifers.

Even worse, "in California we don't regulate our pumping at all," said Horner. "There's nothing that says someone can't pump a well until it's dry."

A July 31 report from Stanford University's Water in the West program pointed out that in normal years, groundwater provides about 40 percent of the water California uses. But during drought, that number jumps to 60 percent.

"Using groundwater to supplement California's water supply has allowed farmers and communities in California to limp through the current drought, but at the cost of dramatically drawing down the aquifers," the report warns.

According to Horner, not only does emptying aquifers pose a risk for a water-scarce future, but it also can decrease the amount of water that may be available to recharge springs and streams and nourish ecosystems.

And as water is removed, it can cause soil to collapse. Not only can this permanently decrease the amount of water that an aquifer can hold, but it can also lead to disruptions on the surface through land subsidence. (See "In California, Demand for Groundwater Causing Huge Swaths of Land to Sink.")

We have no choice but to drill more wells and chase the water down.

In some places in the Central Valley, land has dropped by a foot. This has damaged roads, pipes, and other infrastructure and has caused some canals to stop working.

Other states do have restrictions on groundwater pumping, and this fall two bills will be taken up by the California legislature to consider the issue.

"The drought is making people pay attention, and I think things are about to change," said Horner. He noted that the race is on, because climate change is likely to cause more disruptions to natural water supplies in the coming years. (See "Could California's Drought Last 200 Years?")

Asked what will happen to his business if the state starts regulating groundwater, Arthur said, "If they tell people they can't put in wells, they won't be able to grow their crops and they'll be forced to lay people off. People won't be able to make car or house payments. They'll do what they have to do to feed their families, even if it's wrong."

Hard, Stressful Work

On a rig drilling a 2,100-foot (640-meter) well for a farmer near Kettleman City, operator Juan de la Cruz of Fresno's Zim Industries said he has been "really, really busy."

As the sun set over distant peaks, de la Cruz said he didn't know how deep future wells would have to go. In his 14 years on the job, the deepest he has bored was 3,400 feet (1,030 meters), in New Mexico.

When someone calls for a new well, the Arthurs tell them to also put their name in with one or more of their local competitors. "We tell them whoever can get to them first, that's fine," said Barbara Arthur, who runs the office and is married to Floyd.

Steve Arthur said that when he is on a job, a landowner will often ask him to "sneak in" another well or two. He always declines, since wells require permits and planning that take time. Still, Arthur and his father have put in pro bono wells for hard-up members of their community, including one a few months ago for a woman whose husband fell ill.

It's not easy work. Drill crews work 12-hour shifts in loud, hot, dangerous conditions. Hoses can break, pipes can fall, and whole rigs can slide into sinkholes, as has happened to the Arthurs' operations a few times over the decades.

Drillers have to keep constant water and air pressure on their tungsten-coated bits, which frequently snag or break. They expand a well by bolting on a new segment of pipe after each push into the ground. Leaks require frequent welding on the spot. Operators skim the sediment sucked out of the hole every ten feet (three meters), to see what layers lie underneath. Primary drilling takes a couple of days, and then the well must be flushed out and filled with porous casing and lined with gravel.

Looking forward, Arthur is unsure if his sons Michael, 15, or Brandon, 10, will follow in the family business. In the fall, they will start at private school, thanks to the profits from all the new business. Although he had begun working on his father's rigs when he was Michael's age, because of the drought Arthur thinks that his line of work has become "very stressful."

"I sometimes ask my dad, 'Why couldn't you have found an easier occupation?'" said Arthur.

Follow Brian Clark Howard on Twitter and Google+.


44 comments
Candle FOREX
Candle FOREX

@Denise S.  Here is a little hint for you: See that key on the left of your keyboard called CAPS LOCK ? It is there for a reason and that reason is so people dont have to suffer reading in ALL CAPS !!!!

Nancy Smith
Nancy Smith

and the next daily news story will be something about the 'horrific floods' and loss of life when ' the rains come', people's homes slide down to the sea, fires engulf the land and winds carry the sweet topsoil out to sea.   (just musing and kicking up some dust here) study the land all you please, quantify it, data reduce all the useful numbers until you get what you need, but the sun will always shine again long after you and your progeny have since rejoined the organic components your DNA so faithfully assembled.  from neanderthals or whatever animals we fluted off from some tree of life, something will follow us, plowing the earth, hooting at the moon, or smelling the scorched air as some 20,000 mile per second 5 mile wide rock careens into the Pacific, splashing up a wave of salty water and restarting this cycle of life once again.

Nancy Smith
Nancy Smith

this is a short term solution to a very long term issue. there's multiple components to management of any sustainable ecosystem, but all we see is the immediacy of food production, profits and narrow focus on 'water' as the main resource. until humanity can actually realize the fallacy of an ever bountiful planet as we breed like flys, consume much more than we actually require and leave behind (physically and time domain) the detritus of our existence, there will be no future beyond some 'intellectual concept' chiselled into stones (glass discs?) for some 'fly by night' interplanetary aliens to dig up in the next few million years.  humans are barely evolved in the time scheme, and we already have tweaked our life sustaining planet balance to a lopsided (aka endangering) condition. for what? an easier ride to the 7-11 to scoop up some Nachos and a six pack, or a quick vacation via a fuel consuming hydrofueled aerowaster so we can 'experience' the beauty of Bali's pristine blue waters?  this may be the pinnacle of our evolution cycle, as we degrade the very earth we sprung from. (just some gloom and doom to help y'all enjoy your fresh avocado paste, corn chips and Fresno Valley wine snack with)

Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts

If they didn't release millions of acre feet of water for tiny fish, they could use that water for crops to feed people.


It's not a lack of water, it's poor decisions.


And what happened to the new technology for desalinization? I though that was coming along quickly?

Greg Fietz
Greg Fietz

All plagues on this planet ended because they ate/drank/copulated until they died. Is this to be the fate of the human plague too ??  No of course not, we are too smart. We can control our own destiny. Can't we ??

Ray Del Colle
Ray Del Colle

"Carbon dioxide has increased about 40 percent in the atmosphere since the 1750s, due to pollution from dirty energy like coal, oil, and gas. The result is a warming climate." http://clmtr.lt/c/KZz0cd0cMJ

The Squad
The Squad

The main point is not "global heating" since most agree there is no turning back at this point.  And to blame a lack of rain and suggest there would be no CA drought on Clinton or Bush is just plain ignorant.  California has a history of droughts and in the scheme of things this drought is a minor inconvenience since there have been droughts that last more than 200 years in CA as part of the natural cycle.


The real problem is population and lack of a coherant national water policy.  How about we kill a few birds with one stone.  make a national water distribution system.  This would consist of a pipeline build along federal highway right of ways.  Each state would have the ability to build pipelines that connect to the federal pipeline and either pump water into it during flood times or out of it during drought or to replenish aquifers or water storage facilities.  As an example in areas that experience frequent floods a state could build a wet land like area that is above the normal river level but below flood level.  When the river rises water goes into the wet land.  When it rises to just below flood level the water is pumped into the pipeline.  Somewhere else a state purchase the water and uses it to fill a lake or replenish an aquifer.


All tools, equipment and materials would be required to made in the US.


As a plus you get jobs, increased manufacturing production and wet land as well as water delivered to where it is needed.

craig hill
craig hill

The main problem is the lack of action against global heating, which is now too late. Irony is that the farmers are one of the most strident vocalizers against the science that proves exactly what will kill their golden goose. Had it been addressed before approximately 2005---Clinton/Gore and Bush/Cheney are to blame---there still would be adequate rainfall to keep the food industry afloat in the US, a good half of which is grown in California. Because nothing was done, weather patterns have shfted due to the weakening jet stream over and south of the hellaciously warming Arctic, which has caused the literally killing drought in California.The great American cheap food ride is almost over, and it will decimate this country. One of the many terrible consequences of global heating coming right up.

Andrew Booth
Andrew Booth

It's my understanding that aquifers take several tens of thousands of years to recharge. The catchment area is many hundreds of miles across and precipitation takes that long to filter down through the rocks. The 'fossil' water being pumped now is thousands of years old and cannot be quickly replaced. Once these wells are dry, that's about it!

Maggie P.
Maggie P.

It's my understanding very similar deep water drilling has been underway for at least a decade in Texas and possibly elsewhere; the article quotes a brief remark on deep New Mexico drilling.

Crops irrigated are a different type from California's central valley, but in Texas, some years back, corn production was eventually abandoned due to dwindling water access. I've tried to find info pointing specifically to this, I recall news coverage 'back when', but only find current stories of this depletion - of the Ogallala Aquifer - continuing.

Americans may need to be advised more often that water availability is a huge challenge and is nation-wide. We're not taking it seriously enough to change habits and expectations. We're indulging in "willful blindness".  Note the quote embedded in the article: "Asked if he worries about butting up against an upper limit to the region's groundwater, Arthur said that "it might be a problem for the next generation."

"It might be a problem for the next generation" should perhaps be a sub-heading, if not an article title. The remark, and the thinking behind it, is an excellent example of 'willful blindness' underway.  (Willful blindness is a recognized very common human psychological 'coping' strategy - a response to reality that doesn't fit what we want to believe.)

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

Very discouraging. Let's dig deeper wells and completely dry up that resource, then look for another knee jerk solution. Not like there were no warnings that the water situation out West was going to reach a critical level, regardless of the cause. Just as, dare I say it, the global warming and climate change issues we are facing in general, the prevalent attitude is, let's debate it until we reach the 11th hour and just as in the case of the drought out West, find ourselves past the point of no return, (if not there already), and end up at the point where all we can say is, "Could have, should have, would have". Are we going to learn a lesson here, probably not. Very discouraging.

Chase Johnie
Chase Johnie

Hire the military. They waste a lot anyway. They have the money and a place to use it.  California.  Better yet bring back the Stanley Steamer. Once cars start running on it again (at least for short trips to the Mall it would pay for itself. Stop making plastic bottles and build a better desalinization plant.  Now that would be a good Kickstarter.

Phil Blank
Phil Blank

New reservoirs?

Must going to fill it with sand?

Can't keep the ones they have filled.

PLUS they are open to the air, water evaporates.

State lawmakers approve ballot measure for $7.5 billion water bond

From LA Times last week.

Denise S.
Denise S.

.......very SCARY, WATER SHORTAGES IN MOST PLACES THE WORLD OVER, NOT JUST CALIFORNIA, AND ALSO THE QUALITY OF TAP WATER... PLASTIC BOTTLED WATER POLUTION,...  ANY THOUGHTS ON PERSONAL WATER PURIFIER DEVICES AND TREATMENTS - REVERSE OSMOSIS, STEAM DISTILLED.....ON WHICH IS BEST CHEAPEST FOR LONG TERM SURVIVAL...ENJOY.

Byron` V.
Byron` V.

Keep smirking... This will affect all Americans.

"The Central Valley "feeds the world," he said, providing about half of the U.S.'s fruits, nuts, and vegetables." 

Dwayne LaGrou
Dwayne LaGrou

I fear that the people living in California have reached the point of no return! You can only demand so much from the environment before it is harmed beyond repair. That's what happens when you try to live in a desert that was never supposed to see this kind of population increase. Same thing for LasVegas.

They have the technology to build desalination plants that could supply ALL of their water needs indefinitely! They did it in the middle east. They have Mae sun for solar power and wave action from the Pacific Ocean. With a combination of the two technologies they would not need to tap the ground water at all AND could actually start to replenish it by pumping and excess back in! There are enough Millionaires and billionaires that could help out also.

joseph yechout
joseph yechout

Hooray for the mudskipper, the Left need  to defend it at all

costs. Our costs.

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Nancy Smith  Here is an interesting thought, we are better prepared to deal with an asteroid coming our way than to deal with Global warming and the climate change it seems to be bringing.

Andrew Booth
Andrew Booth

@Nancy Smith One point you made Nancy - "We breed like flies". That's the single, fundamental cause of almost all the world's problems - unchecked human population growth.

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Nancy Smith  Hello Ms. Smith, aren't you sugarcoating it a mite. In truth, maybe that's what we all need, a good slap in the face to wake us up.

Be well

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Bob Roberts  Actually it is a combination of both; lack of water & poor decisions, or quite possibly no, "decisions" at all.

Maggie P.
Maggie P.

@Bob Roberts Re desalinization: Tremendous energy use, "Energy is the largest single expense for desalination plants, accounting for as much as half of the costs to make drinking water from the sea, according to a report." (April 2013) See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-01/energy-makes-up-half-of-desalination-plant-costs-study.html

Whereas I agree water use for food production should be given top priority (certainly over golf courses, fancy fountains, and washing cars!) - 'robbing' natural waterways and bodies of water for any but most essential needs is part of what we have to stop doing. 

It's not just "tiny fish" of a particular species that disappear as our extravagance rolls through.  We demand so much that the dynamic processes by which earth's 'livingness' renews and repairs itself falters. It cannot keep up with the pace and scope of relentless consumption.

As has been observed - we're in space, earth is our ship. It seems to me we have little choice but to get our stewardship act together. --- I hope we do so!

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Greg Fietz  Good day Mr. Fietz, I think you have not stated your question quite correctly, I think the question is, "We WILL control our own destiny, won't we?".I think the answer is yes. The bigger question is what destiny will we choose.

Be Well

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@The Squad  Agreed the main point of the article is the water shortage in California, but the fact is there are other states out West facing the same dilemma. With regards to the current drought, no question that area has a history of such, but this one is one of the worst, if not the worst and most widespread in recorded history. With the other extreme weather conditions going on around the world I think it's safe to say we are experiencing more than just the, "natural order" in this case.

I also find it hard to believe that, "Most" agree there is no turning back, or as I read into it, nothing that can be done.Looking to the future there are many of us who believe we still have a shot at mitigating the situation.

Severe drought is only one of the problems that Climate change presents. Addressing the water issue is only one part of the puzzle. So from my point of view, global warming and the subsequent climate change IS the MAIN point.

D. Lundgren
D. Lundgren

@The Squad I find this a fascinating idea, however I think the pipeline system would quickly be converted to profit for states suddenly able to slash taxes. It wouldn't be flood/excess water, it would be the great lakes system being sold to CA. Our politicians have sold our public forests; I absolutely think it's going to be a fight to keep them from selling our water.


Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@craig hill  Hi Mr. Hill, what you say may be true, "the tipping point past", which would then leave, "adaptation" as the only alternative. I have been and still am a staunch supporter of doing what we can, for example reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to try and mitigate what is apparently coming our way. I am old enough that I will probably not see the brunt of it, but the thought of what is being left for our heirs to deal with, without even making a concerted effort to do something about it, is not what I want to go to my grave with. The thought of telling our children we made a mess of it, with the writing on the wall, and tell them they will have to ADAPT to the problems which we may have been able to address, just doesn't sit well.

Even at this late stage I hold out hope, (fading fast) that at least we will wake up and smell the coffee and start taking some significant steps in the right direction to mitigate what is to come. I want to believe that if we reduce our CO2 emissions, be smarter in the use of our natural resources, reduce our usage of fossil fuels and take advantage of technologies that are available, we might reduce the impact left to future generations.But alas, it seems we can't get by the talking points and before you know it we have a situation like that out West.

I am losing faith, as long as the Auto industry keeps putting out vehicles with ridiculous horsepower and the public still buys them, it serves as an metaphor of just how far we are from grasping the situation. If we can't decide that a 200 plus horsepower car is a luxury we can no longer afford and one we do not need, the general Public is just as responsible for the situation we find ourselves in as the politicians and corporations.

Every generation that has preceded has had the promise of making a better life for themselves and their children, I am not so sure about what is in store for the next generation, but as it sits now, it isn't looking promising.

Be Well

Andrew Booth
Andrew Booth

@Maggie P. But it just fits the general consensus about all the world's resources Maggie. Whether it's fish stocks, fossil fuel reserves or water the consensus really does seem to be to take it all now and let future generations worry about themselves.

I recently heard the argument that if we conserve and rebuild stocks of food fish such as cod, then future generations will simply go out and deplete them the same way we have on the basis of "there's plenty there". Perhaps that's the same with water. If present populations leave the aquifers intact then future generations will deplete them for the same reasons we are now - farming, drinking, golf courses etc. 

Perhaps forcing future generations to adapt when they need to is the only practical answer? 

craig hill
craig hill

@Jeffrey S. The tipping point is past, as the media will allow to be known once the population starts dropping, in part by leaving the Northern hemisphere. The lesson has long already been prepared, it's just that the test hasn't been passed out yet.

Candle FOREX
Candle FOREX

@Denise S.  Here is a little hint for you: See that key on the left of your keyboard called CAPS LOCK ? It is there for a reason and that reason is so people dont have to suffer reading in ALL CAPS !!!!

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Dwayne LaGrou  Hey Dwayne, don't hold your breath waiting on the millionaires and billionaires, in general they are too busy filling their coffers and when/if California or other Western states become virtually uninhabitable, those who live there will be the first to flee, (there are some fine exceptions of philanthropists, but they are the exception, not the rule).

Be well Fellow.

craig hill
craig hill

@joseph yechout Had we protected the environment from the suicidal greed of conservatives of both parties, the human would have been protected along with the mudskipper, now both are lost, or haven't you heard (yet) of the 6th Great Extinction???

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Maggie P.  To add to what you say, the ecological system is pretty delicate, when one species is lost it snowballs; bigger fish eat big Fish eat little fish, ,take away the little fish and the bigger and big fish are soon to follow.

Maggie P.
Maggie P.

@Andrew Booth @Maggie P.  It may be possible to 'head off' complete present extreme consumption and trashing - IF we 'get on it'. I happen to be one whose 1950's childhood encouraged 'husbanding resources' rather than high consumption. In my childhood farm setting, conservation of both water and electricity - as well as of family financial resources - was constantly promoted. This - in spite of growing consumerism all around. 

Years later, as an elem teacher in a consumer-oriented society, I learned how deeply young children care, and want to behave responsibly toward earth and resources.

Granted the bulk of the population - high and low income and all in between - seem pretty casual about resource depletion. And I suspect there's truth that we're inclined to persuade ourselves to carry on with status-quo. But I'm not ready to yield; the more of us who shift to greater responsibility, the more likely we'll influence others to do the same. (??)

It's going to be crummy if we can't turn trends around - an understatement - if worst comes to worst, sooner rather than later.  Many days I think it's entirely possible we'll recognize arrival of 'the worst' before it fully arrives, but by then momentum of dire developments will be unstoppable.  Some days I think 'unstoppable' is already the case.  Sisyphus!

craig hill
craig hill

@Andrew Booth @Maggie P. Right, tell your children and grandchildren to learn how to adapt to much less food. That's the future we have made for them.

Greg Fietz
Greg Fietz

@Jeffrey S. Millionaires and billionaires and the ordinary masses can be made to pay for this through responsibly placed taxes. We need our intelligent elders to organize this so the millionaires and billionaires can continue to pay the wages to the masses to keep our civilization alive for thousands of more years. The Ancient Egyptians would be disgusted at our mismanagement of our modern civilization.

craig hill
craig hill

@Jeffrey S. I've been thinking since it happened that Robin Williams didn't only coimmit suicide from personal problems, but from awareness of This.

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Greg Fietz @Jeffrey S.  I agree with you. I think part of the problem is this is such a hot topic that Congress just doesn't want to grab the Bull by the horns.A carbon tax has been talked about for some time but industry and corporate America has fought it like the plague. I can appreciate the skepticism over another tax, but some taxes and government regulation have worked well, such as CAFE and gas guzzler tax.I believe that a carbon tax would serve well, it would make industry reconsider some of their manufacturing processes and reduce their CO2 emissions. A perfect example is the cement mfg. industry. Cement manufacturing accounts for about 5% of man made CO2 and there is technology that would reduce that figure substantially.5% doesn't sound like much, until one examines the sheer volume 5%represents and it would be a good start. If a carbon tax was introduced the Cement corporations, (along with others) would initiate the changes because in the long run it would save them money.Yet there it sits on the table virtually going nowhere.

Unfortunately, that is where the whole debate concerning "Global warming and Climate change" seems to be going, "Nowhere".

Maggie P.
Maggie P.

@craig hill @Jeffrey S. To pursue 'mental health' issues as response to looming societal/environmental break-down would be a different conversation - and a big one - and IMO an important one. Williams had a sharp mind, possibly found 'awareness' difficult on a number of themes. For what it's worth, I lost a dear friend to suicide whose mental health issues followed a similar path as that Williams was on, (but without the fame and riches - a more ordinary life.). He, too, 'tossed in the towel' when early Parkinson's showed up. (Parkinson's was a predicted eventual side-effect to meds he'd taken for some time.)

That said, realization of humanity's full-blown troubled times - and its profound complexity - tugs at minds of many.  It can't make dealing with more private or personal challenges any easier.

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