As all eyes turn to the power crunch, a worse crisis looms: water : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

As all eyes turn to the power crunch, a worse crisis looms: water

Palm Springs, California-AP -- We've been hearing a lot lately about the power crunch facing the West and rolling blackouts that could spread.

But experts say energy isn't the only thing that may be in short supply. They say a water crisis is looming.

Resources are being overtapped and drying up. Take Palm Springs, California, for example. A quarter (m) million residents use an average of 375 gallons of water a day at home -- twice the national norm.

Reserves from rivers feeding some of the nation's fastest growing cities are disappearing fast. And experts say they foresee a serious problem.

The head of groundwater research at the U-S Geological Survey says he sees shortages looming in much of the United States.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press.

-- Martin Thompson (, May 12, 2001


When I first moved to California in 1976 the big news was what a boon to water conservation, and benefits to the masses, once the Auburn Dam was built.

Guess what? Twenty five years later it STILL is not built.

Same reason as energy. THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS will not let us progress as a modern society must. They will not be happy until we return to the Dark Ages.

-- JackW (, May 12, 2001.

A little conservation here, a little conservation there, and pretty soon our standard of living will be equal to Cuba's.

Can someone explain to me why, with the enormous strides we've made in technology, new energy supply sources can't be constructed with minimal damage to the ecology of this great land?

-- QMan (, May 12, 2001.

I'm still wondering where they're going to put the 36-square mile solar panel needed to produce the same amount of power that comes out of a single nuke plant.

-- Loner (, May 12, 2001.

1. We'll be back to the dark ages if we use up all the fossil fuels and don't switch to renewable energy instead. The "environmentalists" are not a monolithic group (just like "right-wingers" are not monolithic) -- but it is obvious that we cannot expect an infinite supply of anything on a finite planet.

2. Many dam(n)s in the West are giant evaporation ponds and sedimentt traps. The Auburn dam wasn't built because it was a giant boondoggle.

3. The best place to put the solar panels is on everyone's roof. Decentralizing energy production is the best hope for stabilizing the power grid. There is no place to put nuclear fuel rods once they've been irradiated and made intensely lethal in a nuclear reactor such as Diablo Canyon (which was built next to an earthquake fault). Solar panels can't make nuclear weapons nor poison farmland a thousand miles downwind.

Nuclear reactors are fundamentally incompatible with creatures that use DNA.

-- mark (, May 13, 2001.

more on nuclear reactors

the uranium enrichment facility in kentucky that processes nuclear fuel for reactors has a LARGE coal power installation next door that uses about 2,000 megawatts. I believe the uranium center at Portsmouth Ohio uses similar amounts of coal power.

If you add up the energy input of uranium mining, milling, conversion to uranium hexafluoride (nasty stuff), enrichment, reactor operation, and ultimately, babysitting the poisonous fission products and transuranics for thousands of generations, nuclear reactors do not even begin to break even as an energy source.

-- mark (, May 13, 2001.

Bingo- my thoughts exactly, Mark. Swissrose.

-- Swissrose (, May 13, 2001.

Nobody has answered my question yet.

With the remarkable advances in technology, refineries can now be built with but a fraction of the emissions of old. Pipelines can be laid with virtually no footprints, zero damage to the environment, once completed. Gas wells can be sunk with less than 10% of past environmental damage. The transmission line - cancer scare is a proven hoax.

I think the conservation - renewable sources only environmentalists are stuck in the past. They only want to cling to these stupid no-growth concepts for political reasons. Nothing more.

-- QMan (, May 13, 2001.

This expands on the answer in reference to nuclear power. It costs energy to produce all forms of energy, including nuclear, solar, and fossil fuel. The input, at this stage in man's development, is almost invariably fossil fuel energy. Engineers call this problem the "back work ratio." And, yes, current nuclear energy technology does have a high back work ratio, if high external (health, safety) costs are to be avoided. However, many renewable energy existing technolgies (solar photovoltaics, wind power) also have high backwork ratios.

The looming Crisis is that the back work ratio for production even of conventional fossil fuels is steadily and inexorably rising. The easily and cheaply (energy wise) available supply of fossil fuels is being depleted steadily. When the point is reached when it costs the energy of a barrel of oil to produce and refine and distribute and use it; the Age Of Fossil Fuels must inevitiably end.

Fortunately, the "back work ratio" can be improved with advances in technology (although this is less true of fossil fuel production.) Unless a feverish "moon launch" effort is undertaken to invest in new technologies to improve the energy backwork ratio of (especially renewable) energy production and energy use efficiency, this "Point Of No Return" will be upon us all too soon. As the fossil fuel backwork production ratio steadily falls towards unity, consumption of remaining supplies will increase ever more rapidly, accelerating depletion. This will bring on the "Point Of No Return" substantially sooner than is generally calculated by otherwise excellent analysts, such as Hubbert, because they neglect this "back work ratio" positive feedback effect in their consumption mathematical modeling.

Technology advancement is the defining occupation of engineers. For energy technology, this is "Old Economy" engineering. The underemployment rate for U.S. "old economy" engineers is surprisingly high, and job stability for many of those employed is very low. This is indicative that the needed investment in the technologies needed to transition successfully out of the Age Of Fossil Fuels is not now a corporate or national priority. It can only be hoped that the energy crisis becomes severe enough soon enough that this changes, and the sooner the better for the survival of the world as we know it.

-- Robert Riggs (, May 13, 2001.

Its goiing to take a combination of all the energy technology to get us out of this mess. I live in Florida. If there was a building code that said you had to have solar hot water for every new home would be a start. This little bit alone would save so much power. And if your house is costed out over $175,000, it has to be totally solar powered. With all the building going on in Florida, the cost of solar energy would plummet and more and more people could afford it. We have a large heat ppump for our swimming pool. We should not have been allowed to have that, but instead should have had to have solar. And had we known then what we know now, we would have had solar. Each area of the nation has its own natural energy. The Pacific Northwest has hydropower and wood. Eastern States have coal. The technology is there for burning clean... whether its wood or coal. There is natural gas all over the place and we still have oil reserves. I wish the conservationists would all go up to Alaska and really LOOK at the current pipeline/wildlife and go to ANWR and see that it is a coastal plain, not beautiful pristine mts. Furthermore, Caribou do not always calve in the same area year after year. Many years ANWR never sees any caribou. Our leave no footprints technology would do just that. Even the drilling platforms come out when its all finished. Like so many things, its the people who really DO NOT have the knowledge that are making the rules. I used to be a member of Sierra club...most of my life...until I found that the President had built his new home of REDWOOD. That opened my eyes. We have to be realistic and we have to take the middle road. We don't have to slash and burn to get our energy. But if we DON'T get our energy, our world as we know it will be slashed and burned. Taz

-- Taz (, May 13, 2001.

Three cheers, Taz. Great, practical, common sense analysis.

-- Wayward (, May 13, 2001.

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