The vast majority of water is used to grow plants to feed to animals to make meat. Kill the animals now for food and ban breeding/raising of livestock forevermore within state lines. Former ranchers /meat growers will adapt. BAN ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IN CALIFORNIA and grow only plants to feed directly to humans. The longer we wait (while continuing to grow animals for food), the more risk we have that California runs out of water completely. Meat can be grown in other states but we can't risk continuing to livestock farm in this drought ridden region. If we run out of water, we won't be able to GIVE our million dollar homes away. Water=prosperity. No water and Silicon Valley will be packing up for the Pacific Northwest or Great Lakes. Oh, and the geniuses of Silicon Valley should start working on water and clean energy solutions. Nobody on earth needs another ring tone or video game.
Published August 19, 2014
Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. We are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the western United States and in several dry regions globally, threatening our future.
We are at our best when we can see a threat or challenge ahead. If flood waters are rising, an enemy is rushing at us, or a highway exit appears just ahead of a traffic jam, we see the looming crisis and respond.
We are not as adept when threats—or threatened resources—are invisible. Some of us have trouble realizing why invisible carbon emissions are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and warming the planet. Because the surface of the sea is all we see, it's difficult to understand that we already have taken most of the large fish from the ocean, diminishing a major source of food. Neither of these crises are visible—they are largely out of sight, out of mind—so it's difficult to get excited and respond. Disappearing groundwater is another out-of-sight crisis.
Connecting Dots: The News in Perspective
Groundwater comes from aquifers—spongelike gravel and sand-filled underground reservoirs—and we see this water only when it flows from springs and wells. In the United States we rely on this hidden—and shrinking—water supply to meet half our needs, and as drought shrinks surface water in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, we rely on groundwater from aquifers even more. Some shallow aquifers recharge from surface water, but deeper aquifers contain ancient water locked in the earth by changes in geology thousands or millions of years ago. These aquifers typically cannot recharge, and once this "fossil" water is gone, it is gone forever—potentially changing how and where we can live and grow food, among other things.
A severe drought in California—now approaching four years long—has depleted snowpacks, rivers, and lakes, and groundwater use has soared to make up the shortfall. A new report from Stanford University says that nearly 60 percent of the state's water needs are now met by groundwater, up from 40 percent in years when normal amounts of rain and snow fall.
Relying on groundwater to make up for shrinking surface water supplies comes at a rising price, and this hidden water found in California's Central Valley aquifers is the focus of what amounts to a new gold rush. Well-drillers are working overtime, and as Brian Clark Howard reported here last week, farmers and homeowners short of water now must wait in line more than a year for their new wells.
In most years, aquifers recharge as rainfall and streamflow seep into unpaved ground. But during drought the water table—the depth at which water is found below the surface—drops as water is pumped from the ground faster than it can recharge. As Howard reported, Central Valley wells that used to strike water at 500 feet deep must now be drilled down 1,000 feet or more, at a cost of more than $300,000 for a single well. And as aquifers are depleted, the land also begins to subside, or sink.
Unlike those in other western states, Californians know little about their groundwater supply because well-drilling records are kept secret from public view, and there is no statewide policy limiting groundwater use. State legislators are contemplating a measure that would regulate and limit groundwater use, but even if it passes, compliance plans wouldn't be required until 2020, and full restrictions wouldn't kick in until 2040. California property owners now can pump as much water as they want from under the ground they own.
California's Central Valley isn't the only place in the U.S. where groundwater supplies are declining. Aquifers in the Colorado River Basin and the southern Great Plains also suffer severe depletion. Studies show that about half the groundwater depletion nationwide is from irrigation. Agriculture is the leading use of water in the U.S. and around the world, and globally irrigated farming takes more than 60 percent of the available freshwater.
The Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven states, is losing water at dramatic rates, and most of the losses are groundwater. A new satellite study from the University of California, Irvine and NASA indicates that the Colorado River Basin lost 65 cubic kilometers (15.6 cubic miles) of water from 2004 to 2013. That is twice the amount stored in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S., which can hold two years' worth of Colorado River runoff. As Jay Famiglietti, a NASA scientist and study co-author wrote here, groundwater made up 75 percent of the water lost in the basin.
Farther east, the Ogallala Aquifer under the High Plains is also shrinking because of too much demand. When the Dust Bowl overtook the Great Plains in the 1930s, the Ogallala had been discovered only recently, and for the most part it wasn't tapped then to help ease the drought. But large-scale center-pivot irrigation transformed crop production on the plains after World War II, allowing water-thirsty crops like corn and alfalfa for feeding livestock.
But severe drought threatens the southern plains again, and water is being unsustainably drawn from the southern Ogallala Aquifer. The northern Ogallala, found near the surface in Nebraska, is replenished by surface runoff from rivers originating in the Rockies. But farther south in Texas and New Mexico, water lies hundreds of feet below the surface, and does not recharge. Sandra Postel wrote here last month that the Ogallala Aquifer water level in the Texas Panhandle has dropped by up to 15 feet in the past decade, with more than three-quarters of that loss having come during the drought of the past five years. A recent Kansas State University study said that if farmers in Kansas keep irrigating at present rates, 69 percent of the Ogallala Aquifer will be gone in 50 years.
This coincides with a nationwide trend of groundwater declines. A 2013 study of 40 aquifers across the United States by the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the rate of groundwater depletion has increased dramatically since 2000, with almost 25 cubic kilometers (six cubic miles) of water per year being pumped from the ground. This compares to about 9.2 cubic kilometers (1.48 cubic miles) average withdrawal per year from 1900 to 2008.
Scarce groundwater supplies also are being used for energy. A recent study from CERES, an organization that advocates sustainable business practices, indicated that competition for water by hydraulic fracturing—a water-intensive drilling process for oil and gas known as "fracking"—already occurs in dry regions of the United States. The February report said that more than half of all fracking wells in the U.S. are being drilled in regions experiencing drought, and that more than one-third of the wells are in regions suffering groundwater depletion.
Satellites have allowed us to more accurately understand groundwater supplies and depletion rates. Until these satellites, called GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), were launched by NASA, we couldn't see or measure this developing invisible crisis. GRACE has given us an improved picture of groundwater worldwide, revealing how supplies are shrinking in several regions vulnerable to drought: northern India, the North China Plain, and the Middle East among them.
As drought worsens groundwater depletion, water supplies for people and farming shrink, and this scarcity can set the table for social unrest. Saudi Arabia, which a few decades ago began pumping deep underground aquifers to grow wheat in the desert, has since abandoned the plan, in order to conserve what groundwater supplies remain, relying instead on imported wheat to feed the people of this arid land.
Managing and conserving groundwater supplies becomes an urgent challenge as drought depletes our surface supplies. Because groundwater is a common resource—available to anyone with well—drilling equipment-cooperation and collaboration will be crucial as we try to protect this shrinking line of defense against a future of water scarcity.
Dennis Dimick grew up on a hilly Oregon farm named Spring Hill, where groundwater from a spring provided his family's—and the farm's—water supply. He is National Geographic's Executive Editor for the Environment. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and flickr.
— California Drought Spurs Groundwater Drilling Boom in Central Valley
— Groundwater Depletion in Colorado River Basin Poses Big Risk to Water Security
— Drought Hastens Groundwater Depletion in the Texas Panhandle
— Storms Get Headlines, but Drought Is a Sneaky, Devastating Game-Changer
— How the West Was Lost
— Stanford University: Understanding California's Groundwater
Change the Course
The National Geographic Society supports a project to restore freshwater ecosystems. You can find out more about Change the Course here, and how by pledging to reduce your own water footprint you can restore 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River.
Instead a limited groundwater level you can use an unlimited, common and global cloud-water level by using Air HES way worldwide - http://airhes.com - to have both fresh water and renewable energy
You put your trust in man or money it will let you down every time. God is still in control and there is where I will put my trust! I do believe we should be good stewards of the lands but he also gave us signs to watch for and I am just kicked back watching the show how fragile and helpless we really are.
@Danny Rench i'm an atheist but mother nature is going to shake us off like a dog shaking off water...we are indeed fragile and helpless because of our reckless waste of precious planetary resources on harmful and useless stuff NOBODY needs (like dashboard bobbleheads and eye shadow). It takes 2500 gallons to make a pound of meat and 160 gallons to make a pound of potatoes. Our diet plus billions of factories using water to make absurd consumer goods and our planet is trashed.
@Danny Rench 1.of all even if god exists he wont help u he is like grandfather he will watch over u thats all he wont help u pray all day it wont happen
I have worked water and sewer for years. It might cost some money, but maybe we can divert water from some of our rivers in the spring when the snow-melt starts and the rivers are high to those areas. We can run a pipeline for oil why not one for water? The cruise ships have a system to switch salt water to fresh why cant we do that from land also? Again it will cost money, but it will help save our water aquifers. Is this all about water and aquifers or wasted money on research? When it comes to oil we act. The oil drillers use a lot of water maybe they can donate to this cause.
I saw a documentary on this: a UC professor basically said, "We're screwed." The Southwestern US is headed for a water crisis. The water for is disappearing.
omg i'm crying at the comments. This is terrible. I've read so many other articles about this, why isn't this problem more known to the public? They should talk about it on tv, and make ads picturing what the future would look like if we don't all take action now. Instead of stupid useless ads. Everybody is thinking money over life, and this will kill us all. I'm in Canada, and i'm scared about water crisis. Now I'm thinking about third world countries that were scared decades before me. Even if we don't feel it right now, we should do this for everyone else who's currently affected by this in the world. I love meat, but I would be willing to be vegetarian for their sake. Whatever about if meat makes some people really rich! Whatever about them! I'm so angry at greedy people. And even if we didn't drastically just all became vegetarians, just cutting a bit on meat consumption, on the length of our showers? And wars? I don't want to believe that there will be a US-Canada conflict over water as other articles suggest. It's so frustrating to see how people treat water right now in north america, so carelessly like water is air. And air, is that gonna be the next problem if we survive this water thing?
@P. L face it, we are done. don't have kids. encourage others not to have kids. there won't be enough of anything in the very near future. and yes, please go vegan.
I'm done with my discussion with you,have no more time to waste talking to the wall. When you come up with something that substantiates your claims of the ability to support 20 billion people, and the solution that leads to World peace let me know. 'Till then you hold no credibility in my eyes. http://balipie.blogspot.com/
Our groundwater reserves are being depleted due to severe drought. The Fracking process has placed an even greater demand on ground water which will be mixed with chemicals and injected into the ground only to find its' way back into our water tables, never clean again.
There isn't any technology that can keep the status quo as Global Warming is changing everything beyond our technology to compensate. It is already effecting sociopolitical landscapes and will happen far shorter then any scientific or political acknowledgements of the situation. The revolution in Syria is one current example. It was caused by a drought, four years previous, which displaced their entire farm belt, it then became an issue of faction and religion, which is to be expected when resources are limited.
There are already plans, that have been leaked, for the U.S. Military to protect any and all major water supplies, WITHIN the U.S., from its own citizens. WITHIN 50 years the geographical, sociological & political landscapes will be completely changed. That document was leaked nearly 10 years ago and had a 50 year projection, based on the projected science that was being conducted at that time.
That science has since then been re-evaluated 3 times, each time reducing the projections date for Global Warming crisis. In other words, we are already at the beginning of the crisis, we just don't acknowledge it, nor is it being publicized as such. Imagine if it were? Chaos on a grand scale. The population needs to be disarmed, dis-empowered and the population reduced to a manageable size. Population reduction will happen naturally as drought increases and disease takes effect. This is all planned.
It is your best bet to relocate to a higher latitude ... i.e., Canada. There will be a push back but due to the U.S. military superiority, Canada will capitulate to being overrun. It won't matter anyway. Shortly after the salinity of the oceans will have changed and the Gulf Stream will have stopped. The Northern Hemisphere will then slide into a mini-ice age. For the short term ... try to get to Canada.
Do your research. Get the hell out of Dodge.
@David M. true. my san francisco house is worth almost a million now but i won't be able to give it away when there's no water to drink/bathe/flush.
It is a disappointment to see such a prestigious organization as the National Geographic Society disregard the fact that California retains its coastline and access to oceanic supplies of the water resource. The depletion of aquifers through groundwater mining is a choice. The respite needed to recharge the aquifers require new sources of supply and new conservation measures and reduction of growth. The political impulses dominate California's choices and have shaped the characterizations of the situation Californians confront. NM recently revealed deep aquifers in the Middle Rio Grande region, and there is a desal facility in El Paso Texas for the deep aquifer there. In addition tree ring studies in the SouthWest have indicated that what is being called a drought may in fact be more accurately characterized as a return to meteorological patterns in NM that are more consistent with the region's high desert ecosystem. California has developed a massive aqueduct system that has facilitated the depletion of fresh water supplies and has made the supply issue become based on snow packs and diversions. Other issues within the article such as subsidence and the lowering of the water tables are consequences of reliance on groundwater mining outside of the context of sustainable appropriations. California's appetite has lacked any reasonable sense of proportionality or sustainability. Owens Lake was robbed for years of supplies in the diversion to the city of Los Angeles in the face of mass resistance by the farmers of the region. Currently, the political impulse is to target agricultural users because of the one party political system that dominates the state's governing entities.
@Martin Zehr Good day. I believe the valid points you make are all being exacerbated and compounded by what appears to be Climate related problems, which appear to be primarily a result of man-made influences. Specifically, as it relates to the water problems out West, the shrinking snowcaps.
Because of the area's precarious water supply, it makes sense that this would be the first tangible problem that is rearing it's head in the US as a result of, "Global warming" and what appears to be a subsequent, "Climate change" having an influence.
A big concern is what's next. We've been having allot of strange weather here in the Northeast the past decade or so, particularly, flooding rains, tornadoes, severe ice storms, and of course, "Sandy" which although may have been a, "Fluke", it might be a preview of things to come.
More fresh water is been withdraw on daily basis for agricultural and industrial purposes changing the hydraulic gradient of sea and ground water towards the ground water which causes saline intrusion, although the volume is been maintained constant by water cycle, the fresh water would be diminishing and in order to make up for this, an expensive and advance technology would be required
Australia has had draught as severe as California for years. And they are doing something about it. Wave-powered desalination plants:
I'm in Southern CA and the wave hight here is too small for these to work, except outside the Channel Islands. But from the Central coast and north these will work. As always, the political will is lacking install systems like these; they require considerable investments and will change the status quo.
Likewise, it would be quite easy to demand gray water systems in all houses to be used for watering yards. Again, the politics will in lacking.
@Per Sjofors it will take 20 years to build enough desalination plants....20 years too late.
@Per Sjofors Mr. Sjofors, From what little I know of this technology, seems like strategically placed, we may be able to get some clean energy out of it as well as firing a desal facility.
You are absolutely correct, we need to get by the, "politics and economics" and then maybe we can get at working on it. Regarding the economics, when one considers the new jobs created and the possible world market for this type and other related technologies, it offsets those concerns significantly.
The, "status quo" is already changing, whether we like it or not.
@Per Sjofors The status quo needs to be changed. Humans have to Listen and grasp what is going on! So many people just dismiss climate change as a myth, but it is real and if we don't learn how to live in a different world right now, lots of people are going to perish. I do not intend to be one of them, but I am just one person, we ALL need to take a stand and end this, learn to live differently and use our natural resources differently. Create our own electricity, grow our own food and hunt our own meat.
@Per Sjofors p.s. I really like the gray water systems, I had a clogged pipe from the kitchen and laundry room. It took the handyman almost a week to come fix it, so I unscrewed the cleanout cap and let the water run into the yard. My flowers bloomed beautifully. It's capped again but I'm thinking of permanently un capping it and pushing a piece of steel wool down there to block the gray water from going into the sewer and letting it water the yard.
It's pretty obvious that we need to take the water to keep things going right now, but it should be a warning sign that tells us two things:
1. We will have to take proactive action to refill the keep aquifers. The deep water tends not to refill by itself - so when we have water, we'll have to take action.
2. We need to continue searching for and finding more efficient ways to handle our water needs.
I'm trusting that at some point the weather will allow us to refill some of our surface water. We also need to be fully aware that it is only a matter of time before we have a new record-setting drought, and if we're aware of how close we are right now to a permanent problem,we can see how close we are to destroying ourselves.
Technological advances, green tech advances, more efficient agriculture, and better choices of use of gray-water recycling can make a huge difference. We probably don't have the ability, yet, to safely recycle black-water (sewage) on-site, but we can probably filter and re-use gray water (sink water, bath water, shower water) and at least use that for our sewage needs and maybe watering needs.
I could go on...
Draining of aquifers is one thing, but the worst is when they start collapsing that is another. The irony is that the greed creed will let it happen. To that end in places like CA, there is a viable solution now and with an cation today and not when the voters can approve a bond of something less that $10 billion.
What needs to done is pipe line laid down from the Pacific Coast to inland in particular the central valley. In fact it should have been started three years ago. That aquifier in the Central valley needs to filled with sea water before it collapses. At the same time with extreme emergency desalination plants need to build in the central Valley from Sacramento down to the Mexican Boarder. Plus all over the Pacific Coast and other places. With people using water to pay for it. Water is not a miner and people by emergency laws have to pay for what they withdraw from the wells they dig.
@Chui Chui Every one has to cut back on their water useage! Everyone
So many suggestions as to what to do. Some make sense and are well thought out, some not.Some are practical, some not. We have got to find a way to get past the conversation of what to do and start doing, before we have no choices left and the whole conversation just becomes an exercise in futility.
What we need are desalination plants, they are now technologically and economically feasible and would solve the water problem instantly, as we would have the entire ocean at our disposal. This could also solve the problem with "rising sea levels due to global warming".
@Chris Wade Desal may end up being part of the answer, but it is not an, "Instant" fix. Planning, approval, and construction will take several years, (already underway in California). Also, depending on how the energy is supplied, there is the consideration of the additional greenhouse gases that would be emitted, which is also a debate going on in California. Some of the articles I have read related to this state that the current desal proposals will not meet current California codes for emissions. I may be behind the times on that.
What do you do with the byproducts of the process, e.g. brine. ALLOT of desal has to take place to make any kind of difference when it comes to rising ocean water levels.
Following is a link that discusses these issues and explains in further detail the process of desalination. https://www.watereuse.org/sites/default/files/u8/Seawater_Concentrate_WP.pdf
There is no easy and/or instant fix and that is part of the problem we face,making the tough decisions and working to beat the clock. As of right now, the clock seems to be winning.
This thoughtful and well researched article offers one more reason to adopt composting toilet technologies. They do not waste scarce water resources. They don't contaminate ground water and they capture and recycle nutrients essential to food production. What's not to like?
@Alan Wright Hi Alan, I have sold these in the past in an industrial setting where water was not readily available. They work quite well. It is definitely a way to make a contribution towards saving water, particularly in water starved areas. When I was selling them, about 30 years ago, they weren't the most energy efficient units, however today's models are quite so. Good, "Thought".
How does Western Australia manage groundwater? Of course the demand out there is much lesser than in California. Pumping must stop immediately and ways to get water across from the Mississippi floods must be considered. Desalination could help. Gardens must go. Farming methods that use less water must be adapted. Urbanisation must stop and it must be made harder for people to settle down. In fact this is a grave scenario and no country is immune to it. Am sure there will be fights for water. Countries that have water will become rich if they sell water much like oil ;) how about bailing out water from Nepal and parts of Northern India all the way to California? Much of this would drain into the ocean anyway. So let that be the new fad. Masters in flood water tapping. 2 years course. Finite element meshes will have only dry cells and occasional wet cells. The world must look at population control. India are you listening?
@Giridharan Jagannathan one person in the USA uses more water than 20 people in india.
CA's water scam began 60 yrs ago - per ringleader (Swieso) - Bonadelle / City of Fresno at core. 60 yrs of cities being rebuilt on top of secretly-replaced / re-routed underground utilities. Records, aerial views, etc. being altered to cover up the evidence, allowing our officials to claim no knowledge / responsibility. New dams, waterways, etc. Our water is being diverted for MASSIVE upcoming development projects i.e., gambling communities, casinos, golf courses, race tracks, solar farms, high-speed rail. Per Wilbert Swieso: "No one will ever figure it out." "The public believes whatever they are told."
Our officials, Swieso, etal did not foresee a REAL water shortage on top of the one they created. In addition to water and food shortages, articles now indicate the ground rising as a result of this, as well as warnings to expect an escalation in earthquakes.
A severe drought in various parts of India and world over has depleted snowpacks, rivers, and lakes, and groundwater use has soared to make up the shortfall. Fresh water is only 2.6 % of all the available water where as sea water which is saline is occupying a large part.Relying on groundwater to make up for shrinking surface water supplies comes at a rising price. In most years, aquifers recharge as rainfall and streamflow seep into unpaved ground. But during drought the water table—the depth at which water is found below the surface—drops as water is pumped from the ground faster than it can recharge. Water table is going deep and deep at a faster rate creating the first aquifer as drained one causing land subsidence and its other ecological affects.More and more areas are falling in the overexploited areas .Fresh water is being utilised unabated with no check on withdrawl from private borings .Deforestations ,erratic rainfall and misutilisation have led to the severe shortage of water .As drought worsens groundwater depletion, water supplies for people and farming shrink, and this scarcity can set the table for social unrest.Managing and conserving groundwater supplies becomes an urgent challenge as drought depletes our surface supplies. Because groundwater is a common resource—available to anyone with well—drilling equipment-cooperation and collaboration will be crucial as we try to protect this shrinking line of defense against a future of water scarcity.
Various governments at the international level must take this issue as challange before the situation go out of hand leading to water war at the world level . Along with the shortage of fresh water ,pollution of fresh water and ground water is also taking very serious turn which is also a challanging field ,must be tackled at the earliest .
@Chaitanya Agarwal Good day to you. Simplistically put here are the Political, Economical and Social problems we face if we are to address this problem and the overall problem of Climate change;
Each country must first accept that this is in fact a, "Global"problem that needs to be addressed. Then each faction within that country must come to at least a basic agreement as to the steps to be taken. That means Political, Industrial and the Public must come together for a common cause. Then, start to implement the course of action. We, here in the US, can't even agree as to whether there is a problem that needs/can be dealt with and past that, what, if anything, to do about it. I imagine other countries find themselves with the same boat.
Then an International meeting of the minds needs to take place. When was the last time this happened? Until we put aside all other International political and economic agendas from entering into the conversation, the chances of any kind of true International cooperation is not likely. We have to stop pointing fingers at each other when trying to deal with this issue.
So, as well as being a HUGE technical, scientific and engineering nut to crack,it is also a GIGANTIC Political, Social and Industrial nut. Until we can get past the Politics and economics, any hope of truly making headway is nil.
It's one of the toughest problems Humanity has faced in it's relatively short existence. I do not believe the question is, "Can" we do something, the question is, "Will" we do something before it's too late? As of right now it isn't looking optimistic and it seems the clock is running out.
That being said, if there ever was a reason for countries to come together to serve a common cause and address an issue with full sense of cooperation both Domestically and Internationally, this be it.
Kiaora (Greetings) from Aotearoa also known as New Zealand.
Currently, the government's Fresh water plan is drawing criticism and a "A freshwater scientist says a government decision on measuring water quality has more to do with protecting the dairy industry than good science". Radio New Zealand
"Many scientists have written to the government recommending an index of animals living in streams should be used to set water quality limits, but the Ministry for the Environment said that will not work.
"They argue the best measure to look at the impact of pollution on species living in the water is the macro-invertebrate community index (MCI).
"Because different animals can tolerate different levels of water pollution, it is possible to measure water quality by seeing which animals are living in a stream and which are not.
"When the Government set out to create nation-wide water quality standards a panel of scientists recommended one of the limits should be based on the MCI.
"But the Ministry for the Environment rejected an MCI limit, and freshwater scientist at Massey University, Mike Joy, suspects that is because of the effect it would have on agriculture.
"Dr Joy said his suspicion is backed up by a map in a report on the MCI, which shows many rivers in dairy farming regions would fail to meet a limit based on the index.
"They have an agenda for intensification and doubling agriculture in the next 20 or 30 years and so the only way they could achieve that was by giving headroom for more pollution of the rivers.
"And the only way they could do that was to leave out the measures that actually tell you what's going on."
First of all, I don't dispute the water-intensive needs of beef production (though maybe I'd question the numbers proposed), but as a fellow New Mexican I find it interesting that the Salopek family farms hundreds, if not thousands of acres of pecan trees, which use vast amounts of water, most of it ground water in recent years, as the trees sit in veritable lakes of irrigation water for days at a time during the growing season. This has to be depleting the Mesilla Valley Bolson, where I have seen the water table drop from about 15 feet to over 30 feet in just a few years, as the pumps around my home labor almost constantly. Like many others I had to abandon my jet -pumped domestic well and spend thousands to drill a deep wel powered by a submersible pump. And there aren't any beef ranches in this valley (or very, very few), but many pecan orchards. I think Mr. Salopek should have acknowledged that he has a horse in the race, and a thirsty one at that.
But my main reason for writing is to ask Mr. Dimick to explain, if there is a finite amount of water on the planet and in its atmosphere, why California and the Colorado River Basin, among other areas, are threatened with depleted aquifers as a secondary consequence of prolonged drought (or what Bill DeBuys and others are calling the likely "new normal"). Is it because the warming atmosphere holds enormously higher quantities of moisture, and/or because the rain is simply falling in the "wrong" areas--areas that don't need it? Or is it also falling in too much quantity over oceans, thus adding to the salt-water supply, but less so to fresh water? This may all be Hydrology 101, but i think many laymen wonder why it seems like the water is going away from certain areas and not coming back. Presumably, pumping all that water from ancient aquifers should be putting "new" water into the ecosystem, even if the deep aquifers themselves aren't recharging.
Finally, is there no plan like the Central California aqueduct system that could move vast quantities of fresh water hundreds of miles from where there is an excess to where there is a deficit? I realize the cost would be astronomical, but at the same time it could be a massive public works project creating the kinds of jobs we have not seen in this country since the New Deal. There may not be a political appetite for it in Washington (yet), but I wonder about the science.
@Stephen Klinger Regarding your question about where the water is going; mostly being redistributed to other areas of the country and world, including oceans. One example is here in the Northeast we have been getting an extraordinary amount of precipitation over the past several years. This summer has been drenching.
The jet stream across the country has been a mite different recently, probably caused by changing oceanic temperatures and currents. This, as well as, the "extreme" drought conditions, other extreme weather conditions and shifting weather patterns can be viewed along with the many other environmental changes that are occurring, as indicators of global warming and climate change.
@Stephen Klinger when you live and farm in the desert you are going to use a lot of groundwater (all of it eventually). I've seen the orchards in west Texas and east New Mexico.. and wondered.. what in the world are they doing. At least the bolsons can be "filled". The Ogallala can not.
I like eating beef as much as anyone, but the truth is that raising animals for food is THE biggest use of water on the planet. The article says 60% of fresh water is used for farming....80% of that is used to raise animals.
Depending on who you ask, 650 to 5000 gallons of water are needed to bring ONE pound of beef to the table. 2500 gallons is enough water to take a shower every day for 9 months...and that's just to eat ONE pound of beef.
If we shifted beef production to WHERE IT RAINS (for starters), the American west would all of a sudden have a LOT of "extra" water.
All the water saving that individuals can do, and are doing in their homes and businesses, PAILS in comparison to the amount used to raise animals. In New Mexico, only 8% of all the water consumed, is used in homes and businesses.
Truly, if you look at the water use, topsoil loss, pesticides, herbicides, and energy used to raise animals, it quickly and sadly becomes apparent that it's pretty much impossible, no matter what a person otherwise does in their life, to care for the Earth and eat anything more than a tiny amount of meat.
A vegetarian who drives to work in a gas guzzler, doesn't recycle, doesn't use water-saving devices in their home, etc, is FAR more kind to the environment than a meat eater who WALKS to work, recycles, etc etc.
@Bill Salopek please go vegan. thank you so much for your insight. xo
@Bill Salopek Did you do the math, taking an average yield of 400 lbs. per cow, (low side) times your stated low estimate of 650 gallons per pound, that means each cow is responsible for 260,000 gallons of water. Can't be.
@Bill Salopek Thinking about it, the last paragraph of your statement and the innuendo therein is pretty ludicrous. It's about as exaggerated and well thought out as even to suggest that each Beef cow consumes 2 million gallons of water, using your stated high side estimate. To suggest that one is making a more significant contribution by just stop eating beef as opposed to all else is socially irresponsible.
Overpopulation. Overproduction. Stupidity. Greed. Open borders, unlimited subsidized US cropping to feed the world's overpopulation. Most of this precious fossil water and then, fossil fuels, are used to grow GMO soy or corn or wheat for what- processed junk food, dog food, etc.
What it all boils down to is a culture of extreme ignorance and stupidity lacking any pretense of aesthetics, without any reasonable or rational philosophy of life, hell bent on a path toward total annihilation of all life everywhere.
We're a country of useless consumers without any political power or social vision other than a desperate handful of death cult religions. The world is just following in our footsteps.
@Justin Phillips no. not overpopulation. thats a propaganda of the nwo elite, an excuse to bring the population to a manageable size for their plans. i stronlgy believe with what i have discussed with some conscious and knowledgable scientists in my country and they say with the right management the planet can EASILY host and feed 20 billion people in very decent conditions. do you have any idea what 6 billion ppl are? they can easily be contained in the mere region of los angeles. all the habitants of earth! they seem alot just because their distribution is very wide. they are scattered. the fact that there are still people today starving and dying from famine its because a few people gather all the wealth of the world and they built their empires upon the mountains of te corspses of the poor. the poor that work like dogs for them for bread crumbs. and then its us. "the civilised and deveped countries" that live in inexcusable luxury when our brothers die in vain.
@manos tolis Beg to differ a mite, Population most definitely is a consideration. There are many in our own country, I imagine in most countries, particularly 3rd world who should find a way to manage procreation, for many reasons. I agree that addressing the hunger issues of the World is the Humanitarian thing to do and efforts, albeit coming up short, are being made. That doesn't help the child of the tribesman who is dying in his/her mother's arms from starvation and dehydration. I'm sorry, that child should have never been born.That doesn't help the inner city child who comes from a large family who has no father around and a mother that is a drug addict. And yes it has an impact on the problems we are dealing with today, each mouth to feed is another seed that must be sown another gallon of water accounted for another person to house. That is a consideration that both the poor and the wealthy should think about and then yes, it comes down to a matter of personal choice. In this case I believe one can choose with Social responsibility in mind, or not.
I must tell you I take a bit of offense personally at your suggestion that because I live in a civilized developed country, worked hard my whole life to enjoy the modest Luxury I have EARNED, (granted, extreme as compared to other parts of the world) at the expense of the poor and uneducated, is insulting. Not only to me, but to every other hard working stiff. I do not like where our Politics have been going in this country. I do not particularly like our Foreign Policy.I don't particularly like our arrogance. As a whole I love the American people and PROUD to call myself American. We are the most CHARITABLE nation this World has ever known, despite our flaws,(no slight on the good people of other economically driven countries, many of which are quite charitable as well), and the World is a better place for it, period!
@Jeffrey S. @manos tolis my friend you didn't "earn" where you were born. you were just lucky to be born there. and yes we bare responsibility for the living conditions difference between us and them. as for the tribal child, who decides if it should or not be born. you? me? none of us. since its parents decided we have no right to intervene, on the opposite we have obligation to help. our civilization is only shallow, we throw coins to the homeless like they are dogs, we do expensive galas for our "humanitarian activities" while dressed in toxedos glorifying our selfs and congratulating our "magnanimity", while worrying for animal rights and puppies fancy dresses and fresh filets for food when babies are being burned by the white phosphorus grenades of our armies and starve to death. scr*w such a "charitable" galore of hypocritic self praising pretentions.
@manos tolis Just who are these, "Conscious and knowledgeable scientists" you speak of and let's see the data that backs up what I am sure are unsubstantiated claims. Sounds to me like your, "experts" are unconscious, more so like nonexistent. We can't seem to manage the 7 Billion or so. With the, "Right management" we wouldn't find ourselves in the predicament we're in. So what it amounts to when you make the statement that we could, "easily support 20 billion" is pie in the sky wishful thinking that you support with your outdated, ultra left-wing, erroneous point of view. Some, or should I say most, of your statements are ignorant, prejudicial and unconscionable. Am I still, "Your Friend"?
@manos tolis @Jeffrey S. I have no idea how you can sit there in judgement of any individual whom you do not know and judge the strength of their character or what they have contributed to society. Yes, I consider myself very lucky to be born in the US.I've earned it through the choice my Grandparents and Greatgrandparents made when they immigrated here and helped to build this country.Please do not reflect the guilt you obviously have about your own contributions on others you do not know. There is no guilt here. I say that with a concern for animal rights and the generous meal I sit down to.
So what you are saying is there is no individual responsibility associated with having children, procreate to you hearts content and burden society when you do not have the means to care for the child. Yep, that seems reasonable and a step in the right direction.Many "children" are having children, but I guess by your way of thinking that is OK too.Sorry, not OK, it may be fact, but it is far from OK.
How many homeless have you taken in? What have you done to feed the hungry? What sacrifices have you made in the name of your far left ideologies? Rhetorical questions and frankly I do not want to know the answer.
By the way, the VAST majority of charitable people do not attend "Gala events wearing tuxedo's". They are hard workers and give of themselves SELFLESSLY, both through the contribution of time and/or money simply because it is the right thing to do. What about all of the wonderful charitable organizations? I guess worthless in your eyes. Obviously I am wasting my time trying to explain the concept of charity because evidently you do not believe in such.
Think about that while you sit at your computer, spouting your far left ideologies which have no practical content and denigrating those you do not know by making your preposterous generalizations and convenient ideological clichés.
When you come up with a plan for World peace that will work let me know, until then keep throwing stones from your glass house. A convenient cliché, but in this case, apropos.
@Jeffrey S. @manos tolis the difference here is that the only who jumps to conclusions about the other here is you. i never said i know what you have contributed or not to society. and yes i feel guilty for myself for not helping as much i could. but i havent stayed indifferent either. i give some money to three charity institutions in my country every month about orphan children and children with mental disabilities. i participate in the making and distribution of the common meal of my nearby parish. and give change to some beggars i meet on the street that seem in need. as for africa i give some money through unicef to two specific african children. thats what i do and i admit i can do more to aid humanity but sometimes im just lazy or indifferent. as for the scientists i have no reason to say in public their names cause they are my friends and respect their privacy. and believe me they are much more concious than the brainwashed american friend i talk to right now. dont ask everything to be fed to you. why dont you research for yourself to find the truth? cause the truth is far from what you have been nurtured to believe. and no, i have never taken in a homeless person i admit it. even worse i havent even thought about it.
@Jeffrey S. and if you think my "ideologies" are far left you havent understood both my ideas and the left ideology. (which is not something i support or feel it expresses me). if you wait a world solution in a text you are under the burdain of delusion. world solution comes only from inside each and every individual person's internal metamorphosis. not from external factors or mere planning and scheming.
@manos tolis @Jeffrey S. I'm done with my discussion with you,have no more time to waste talking to the wall. When you come up with something that substantiates your claims of the ability to support 20 billion people, and the solution that leads to World peace let me know. 'Till then you hold no credibility in my eyes.
@Jeffrey S. @manos tolis yeah you are. you are fighting in a common struggle, to try to do something better for the fellow human and humanity as a whole, but dont think that gives you the right to make judgement of my statements with such prejudice. it doesnt benefit you first of all. the planet can survive with more than 20 billion WITH THE CURRENT TECHNOLOGY not a potential future one. now if you want to continue believing ideas from the new age propaganda and the economical interests of the few, you have every right to do so. i dont judge you. you were nurtured to a nation were the politicians kiss your a** every day and mention how great and blessed you are as a nation, its only normal you cant conceive the fundamental failures of the western cosmotheory and practice. as for the names of the scientists i wont give it especially if i dont have their approval first but i will just give their specialties. one is a marine biologist, the other is a dean of agriculture in a technological institute and the third a possessor of two phds one in environmental anthropology and one in regional planning. and there is another i dont know personally and gives speeches around the country and is a military consultant, strategist and humanitarian.
@manos tolis Fundamental failures? Boy, if that is not the pot calling the kettle black, I do not know what is. You add hypocrisy to your list. We all know what great shape Greece is in and the political and economic decisions your country made that got you there.
So, you can't offer any substantial evidence to support your adamant claim that the World can support 20 billion people, knew so,no surprise. I wanted to give you the opportunity to rethink your claim hoping you would educate yourself on the matter, or dig your hole deeper, you just keep digging. If you want to know the answer, Google it. The consensus among scientist that have studied this question is about 10 Billion and most feel that is a stretch. Substantiation provided.By my calculations that means you and your, "experts(?)" are off by 100%.
Apparently you can bemoan humanity because of war, but can't offer any kind of suggestion, what so ever, as to how to bring about world peace, of course not, no surprise. As long as there exists terroristic groups, as long as Politics and Nations exist, as long as we covet our neighbor's possessions, as long as there is jealousy, as long as there are different ideologies and theologies there will be war, FACT! It has been a sad fact since the beginning of man, it is a sad fact that it is the nature of man. It's a sad fact that we have to learn to live with it and all the tragedy that is associated.
When one offers an opinion and states it as fact they should be able to provide support to their claim, you cannot. When one is so quick to point out the errors of one's ways, in this case Humanity, they should be able to provide a solution to the problem, stating the obvious is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine and amounts to nothing but rhetoric.
Talk is cheap and this conversation worthless, so with that I say, have a good life, be well and good bye. "Checkmate".
@Jeffrey S. @manos tolis ok "jeffrey" i cant help you for being such a dumba**. 1) you have no right to talk about greece, and you dont have the slightest idea how we went where we went economically. you simply have no other idea than the propaganda the media shoved in your throat. 2) you cannot make assumptions out of your butt because my experts are far more educated on the matter than your google search or your pittiful prejudiced self. 3) to finally checkmate your snobby little mouthhole there is an inventor here that can take AIR! as a basic element, extract the water/humidity from it, extract the hydrogen from it, -all these processes powered from the sun-, and move a car with it for 250 km. so shut up your ignorant, rude and sassy little mouth and keep your "impossibilities" for your self.
@manos tolis @Jeffrey S. I actually replied in kind, (shame on me), but then thought better of it and deleted it. Your comment speaks for itself, volumes as to what type of person you are and exposes your, "True Colors". I will not follow down the path you have chosen. It's done.
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