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Guest Post: The Coming Water Wars

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Doug Hornig and Alex Daley of Casey Research,

Water is not scarce. It is made up of the first and third most common elements in the universe, and the two readily react to form a highly stable compound that maintains its integrity even at temperature extremes.

Hydrologist Dr. Vincent Kotwicki, in his paper Water in the Universe, writes:

"Water appears to be one of the most abundant molecules in the Universe. It dominates the environment of the Earth and is a main constituent of numerous planets, moons and comets. On a far greater scale, it possibly contributes to the so-called 'missing mass' [i.e., dark matter] of the Universe and may initiate the birth of stars inside the giant molecular clouds."

Oxygen has been found in the newly discovered "cooling flows" – heavy rains of gas that appear to be falling into galaxies from the space once thought empty surrounding them, giving rise to yet more water.

How much is out there? No one can even take a guess, since no one knows the composition of the dark matter that makes up as much as 90% of the mass of the universe. If comets, which are mostly ice, are a large constituent of dark matter, then, as Dr. Kotwicki writes, "the remote uncharted (albeit mostly frozen) oceans are truly unimaginably big."

Back home, Earth is often referred to as the "water planet," and it certainly looks that way from space. H2O covers about 70% of the surface of the globe. It makes all life as we know it possible.

The Blue Planet?

However it got here – theories abound from outgassing of volcanic eruptions to deposits by passing comets and ancient crossed orbits – water is what gives our planet its lovely, unique blue tint, and there appears to be quite a lot of it.

That old axiom that the earth is 75% water... not quite. In reality, water constitutes only 0.07% of the earth by mass, or 0.4% by volume.

This is how much we have, depicted graphically:

Credit: Howard Perlman, USGS; globe illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution (©); Adam Nieman.

What this shows is the relative size of our water supply if it were all gathered together into a ball and superimposed on the globe.

The large blob, centered over the western US, is all water (oceans, icecaps, glaciers, lakes, rivers, groundwater, and water in the atmosphere). It's a sphere about 860 miles in diameter, or roughly the distance from Salt Lake City to Topeka. The smaller sphere, over Kentucky, is the fresh water in the ground and in lakes, rivers, and swamps.

Now examine the image closely. See that last, tiny dot over Georgia? It's the fresh water in lakes and rivers.

Looked at another way, that ball of all the water in the world represents a total volume of about 332.5 million cubic miles. But of this, 321 million mi3, or 96.5%, is saline – great for fish, but undrinkable without the help of nature or some serious hardware. That still leaves a good bit of fresh water, some 11.6 million mi3, to play with. Unfortunately, the bulk of that is locked up in icecaps, glaciers, and permanent snow, or is too far underground to be accessible with today's technology. (The numbers come from the USGS; obviously, they are estimates and they change a bit every year, but they are accurate enough for our purposes.)

Accessible groundwater amounts to 5.614 million mi3, with 55% of that saline, leaving a little over 2.5 million mi3 of fresh groundwater. That translates to about 2.7 exa-gallons of fresh water, or about 2.7 billion billion gallons (yes billions of billions, or 1018 in scientific notation), which is about a third of a billion gallons of water per person. Enough to take a long shower every day for many lifetimes...

However, not all of that groundwater is easily or cheaply accessible. The truth is that the surface is the source for the vast majority – nearly 80% – of our water. Of surface waters, lakes hold 42,320 mi3, only a bit over half of which is fresh, and the world's rivers hold only 509 mi3 of fresh water, less than 2/10,000 of 1% of the planetary total.

And that's where the problem lies. In 2005 in the US alone, we humans used about 328 billion gallons of surface water per day, compared to about 83 billion gallons per day of water from the ground. Most of that surface water, by far, comes from rivers. Among these, one of the most important is the mighty Colorado.

Horseshoe Bend, in Page, AZ. (AP Photo)

Tapping Ol' Man River

Or perhaps we should say "the river formerly known as the mighty Colorado." That old Colorado – the one celebrated in centuries of American Western song and folklore; the one that exposed two billion years of geologic history in the awesome Grand Canyon – is gone. In its place is… well, Las Vegas – the world's gaudiest monument to hubristic human overreach, and a big neon sign advertising the predicament now faced by much of the world.

It's well to remember that most of the US west of the Mississippi ranges from relatively dry to very arid, to desert, to lifeless near-moonscapes. The number of people that could be supported by the land, especially in the Southwest, was always small and concentrated along the riverbanks. Tribal clusters died out with some regularity. And that's the way it would have remained, except for a bit of ingenuity that suddenly loosed two powerful forces on the area: electrical power, and an abundance of water that seemed as limitless as the sky.

In September of 1935, President Roosevelt dedicated the pinnacle of engineering technology up to that point: Hoover Dam. The dam did two things. It served as a massive hydroelectric generating plant, and it backed up the Colorado River behind it, creating Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country.

Early visitors dubbed Hoover Dam the "Eighth Wonder of the World," and it's easy to see why. It was built on a scale unlike anything before it. It's 725 feet high and contains 6 million tons of concrete, which would pave a road from New York to Los Angeles. Its 19 generators produce 2,080 MW of electricity, enough to power 1.75 million average homes.

The artificially created Lake Mead is 112 miles long, with a maximum depth of 590 feet. It has a surface area of 250 square miles and an active capacity of 16 million acre-feet.

Hoover Dam was intended to generate sufficient power and impound an ample amount of water, to meet any conceivable need. But as things turned out, grand as the dam is, it wasn't conceived grandly enough... because it is 35 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Vegas had a permanent population in 1935 of 8,400, a number that swelled to 25,000 during the dam construction as workers raced in to take jobs that were scarce in the early Depression years. Those workers, primarily single men, needed something to do with their spare time, so the Nevada state legislature legalized gambling in 1931. Modern Vegas was born.

The rise of Vegas is well chronicled, from a middle-of-nowhere town to the largest city founded in the 20th century and the fastest-growing in the nation – up until the 2008 housing bust. Somehow, those 8,400 souls turned into a present population of over 2 million that exists all but entirely to service the 40 million tourists who visit annually. And all this is happening in a desert that sees an average of 10 days of measurable rainfall per year, totaling about 4 inches.

In order to run all those lights, fountains, and revolving stages, Las Vegas requires 5,600 MW of electricity on a summer day. Did you notice that that's more than 2.5 times what the giant Hoover Dam can put out? Not to mention that those 42 million people need a lot of water to drink to stay properly hydrated in the 100+ degree heat. And it all comes from Lake Mead.

So what do you think is happening to the lake?

If your guess was, "it's shrinking," you're right. The combination of recent drought years in the West and rapidly escalating demand has been a dire double-whammy, reducing the lake to 40% full. Normally, the elevation of Lake Mead is 1,219 feet. Today, it's at 1,086 feet and dropping by ten feet a year (and accelerating). That's how much more water is being taken out than is being replenished.

This is science at its simplest. If your extraction of a renewable resource exceeds its ability to recharge itself, it will disappear – end of story. In the case of Lake Mead, that means going dry, an eventuality to which hydrologists assign a 50% probability in the next twelve years. That's by 2025.

Nevadans are not unaware of this. There is at the moment a frantic push to get approval for a massive pipeline project designed to bring in water from the more favored northern part of the state. Yet even if the pipeline were completed in time, and there is stiff opposition to it (and you thought only oil pipelines gave way to politics and protests), that would only resolve one issue. There's another. A big one.

Way before people run out of drinking water, something else happens: When Lake Mead falls below 1,050 feet, the Hoover Dam's turbines shut down – less than four years from now, if the current trend holds – and in Vegas the lights start going out.

What Doesn't Stay in Vegas

Ominously, these water woes are not confined to Las Vegas. Under contracts signed by President Obama in December 2011, Nevada gets only 23.37% of the electricity generated by the Hoover Dam. The other top recipients: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (28.53%); state of Arizona (18.95%); city of Los Angeles (15.42%); and Southern California Edison (5.54%).

You can always build more power plants, but you can't build more rivers, and the mighty Colorado carries the lifeblood of the Southwest. It services the water needs of an area the size of France, in which live 40 million people. In its natural state, the river poured 15.7 million acre-feet of water into the Gulf of California each year. Today, twelve years of drought have reduced the flow to about 12 million acre-feet, and human demand siphons off every bit of it; at its mouth, the riverbed is nothing but dust.

Nor is the decline in the water supply important only to the citizens of Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. It's critical to the whole country. The Colorado is the sole source of water for southeastern California's Imperial Valley, which has been made into one of the most productive agricultural areas in the US despite receiving an average of three inches of rain per year.

The Valley is fed by an intricate system consisting of 1,400 miles of canals and 1,100 miles of pipeline. They are the only reason a bone-dry desert can look like this:

Intense conflicts over water will probably not be confined to the developing world. So far, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado have been able to make and keep agreements defining who gets how much of the Colorado River's water. But if populations continue to grow while the snowcap recedes, it's likely that the first shots will be fired before long, in US courtrooms. If legal remedies fail… a war between Phoenix and LA might seem far-fetched, but at the minimum some serious upheaval will eventually ensue unless an alternative is found quickly.

A Litany of Crises

Water scarcity is, of course, not just a domestic issue. It is far more critical in other parts of the world than in the US. It will decide the fate of people and of nations.

Worldwide, we are using potable water way faster than it can be replaced. Just a few examples:

  • The legendary Jordan River is flowing at only 2% of its historic rate.
  • In Africa, desertification is proceeding at an alarming rate. Much of the northern part of the continent is already desert, of course. But beyond that, a US Department of Agriculture study places about 2.5 million km2 of African land at low risk of desertification, 3.6 million km2 at moderate risk, 4.6 million km2 at high risk, and 2.9 million km2 at very high risk. "The region that has the highest propensity," the report says, "is located along the desert margins and occupies about 5% of the land mass. It is estimated that about 22 million people (2.9% of the total population) live in this area."
  • A 2009 study published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate analyzed 925 major rivers from 1948 to 2004 and found an overall decline in total discharge. The reduction in inflow to the Pacific Ocean alone was about equal to shutting off the Mississippi River. The list of rivers that serve large human populations and experienced a significant decline in flow includes the Amazon, Congo, Chang Jiang (Yangtze), Mekong, Ganges, Irrawaddy, Amur, Mackenzie, Xijiang, Columbia, and Niger.

Supply is not the only issue. There's also potability. Right now, 40% of the global population has little to no access to clean water, and despite somewhat tepid modernization efforts, that figure is actually expected to jump to 50% by 2025. When there's no clean water, people will drink dirty water – water contaminated with human and animal waste. And that breeds illness. It's estimated that fully half of the world's hospital beds today are occupied by people with water-borne diseases.

Food production is also a major contributor to water pollution. To take two examples:

  • The "green revolution" has proven to have an almost magical ability to provide food for an ever-increasing global population, but at a cost. Industrial cultivation is extremely water intensive, with 80% of most US states' water usage going to agriculture – and in some, it's as high as 90%. In addition, factory farming uses copious amounts of fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides, creating serious problems for the water supply because of toxic runoff.
  • Modern livestock facilities – known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) – create enormous quantities of animal waste that is pumped into holding ponds. From there, some of it inevitably seeps into the groundwater, and the rest eventually has to be dumped somewhere. Safe disposal practices are often not followed, and regulatory oversight is lax. As a result, adjacent communities' drinking water can come to contain dangerously high levels of E. coli bacteria and other harmful organisms.

Not long ago, scientists discovered a whole new category of pollutants that no one had previously thought to test for: drugs. We are a nation of pill poppers and needle freaks, and the drugs we introduce into our bodies are only partially absorbed. The remainder is excreted and finds its way into the water supply. Samples recently taken from Lake Mead revealed detectable levels of birth control medication, steroids, and narcotics... which people and wildlife are drinking.

Most lethal of all are industrial pollutants that continue to find their way into the water supply. The carcinogenic effects of these compounds have been well documented, as the movie-famed Erin Brockovich did with hexavalent chromium.

But the problem didn't go away with Brockovich's court victory. The sad fact is that little has changed for the better. In the US, our feeble attempt to deal with these threats was the passage in 1980 of the so-called Superfund Act. That law gave the federal government – and specifically the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the authority to respond to chemical emergencies and to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous-waste sites on both private and public lands. And it supposedly provided money to do so.

How's that worked out? According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), "After decades of spearheading restoration efforts in areas such as the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, improvements in these water bodies remain elusive … EPA continues to face the challenges posed by an aging wastewater infrastructure that results in billions of gallons of untreated sewage entering our nation's water bodies … Lack of rapid water-testing methods and development of current water quality standards continue to be issues that EPA needs to address."

Translation: the EPA hasn't produced. How much of this is due to the typical drag of a government bureaucracy and how much to lack of funding is debatable. Whether there might be a better way to attack the problem is debatable. But what is not debatable is the magnitude of the problem stacking up, mostly unaddressed.

Just consider that the EPA has a backlog of 1,305 highly toxic Superfund cleanup sites on its to-do list, in every state in the union (except apparently North Dakota, in case you want to try to escape – though the proliferation of hydraulic fracking in that area may quickly change the map, according to some of its detractors – it's a hotly debated assertion).

About 11 million people in the US, including 3-4 million children, live within one mile of a federal Superfund site. The health of all of them is at immediate risk, as is that of those living directly downstream.

We could go on about this for page after page. The situation is depressing, no question. And even more so is the fact that there's little we can do about it. There is no technological quick fix.

Peak oil we can handle. We find new sources, we develop alternatives, and/or prices rise. It's all but certain that by the time we actually run out of oil, we'll already have shifted to something else.

But "peak water" is a different story. There are no new sources; what we have is what we have. Absent a profound climate change that turns the evaporation/rainfall hydrologic cycle much more to our advantage, there likely isn't going to be enough to around.

As the biosphere continually adds more billions of humans (the UN projects there will be another 3.5 billion people on the planet, a greater than 50% increase, by 2050 before a natural plateau really starts to dampen growth), the demand for clean water has the potential to far outstrip dwindling supplies. If that comes to pass, the result will be catastrophic. People around the world are already suffering and dying en masse from lack of access to something drinkable... and the problems look poised to get worse long before they get better.

Searching for a Way Out

With a problem of this magnitude, there is no such thing as a comprehensive solution. Instead, it will have to be addressed by chipping away at the problem in a number of ways, which the world is starting to do.

With much water not located near population centers, transportation will have to be a major part of the solution. With oil, a complex system of pipelines, tankers, and trucking fleets has been erected, because it's been profitable to do so. The commodity has a high intrinsic value. Water doesn't – or at least hasn't in most of the modern era's developed economies – and thus delivery has been left almost entirely to gravity. Further, the construction of pipelines for water that doesn't flow naturally means taking a vital resource from someone and giving it to someone else, a highly charged political and social issue that's been known to lead to protest and even violence. But until we've piped all the snow down from Alaska to California, transportation will be high on the list of potential near term solutions, especially to individual supply crunches, just as it has been with energy.

Conservation measures may help too, at least in the developed world, though the typical lawn-watering restrictions will hardly make a dent. Real conservation will have to come from curtailing industrial uses like farming and fracking.

But these bandage solutions can only forestall the inevitable without other advances to address the problems. Thankfully, where there is a challenge, there are always technology innovators to help address it. It was wells and aqueducts that let civilization move from the riverbank inland, irrigation that made communal farming scale, and sewers and pipes that turned villages into cities, after all. And just as with the dawn of industrial water, entrepreneurs are developing some promising tech developments, too.

Given how much water we use today, there's little doubt that conservation's sibling, recycling, is going to be big. Microfiltration systems are very sophisticated and can produce recycled water that is near-distilled in quality. Large-scale production remains a challenge, as is the reluctance of people to drink something that was reclaimed from human waste or industrial runoff. But that might just require the right spokesperson. California believes so, in any case, as it forges ahead with its Porcelain Springs initiative. A company called APTwater has taken on the important task of purifying contaminated leachate water from landfills that would otherwise pollute the groundwater. This is simply using technology to accelerate the natural process of replenishment by using energy, but if it can be done at scale, we will eventually reach the point where trading oil or coal for clean drinking water makes economic sense. It's already starting to in many places.

Inventor Dean Kamen of Segway fame has created the Slingshot, a water-purification machine that could be a lifesaver for small villages in more remote areas. The size of a dorm-room refrigerator, it can produce 250 gallons of water a day, using the same amount of energy it takes to run a hair dryer, provided by an engine that can burn just about anything (it's been run on cow dung). The Slingshot is designed to be maintenance-free for at least five years.

Kamen says you can "stick the intake hose into anything wet – arsenic-laden water, salt water, the latrine, the holding tanks of a chemical waste treatment plant; really, anything wet – and the outflow is one hundred percent pure pharmaceutical-grade injectable water."

That naturally presupposes there is something wet to tap into. But Coca-Cola, for one, is a believer. This September, Coke entered into a partnership with Kamen's company, Deka Research, to distribute Slingshots in Africa and Latin America.

Ceramic filters are another, low-tech option for rural areas. Though clean water output is very modest, they're better than nothing. The ability to decontaminate stormwater runoff would be a boon for cities, and AbTech Industries is producing a product to do just that.

In really arid areas, the only water present may be what's held in the air. Is it possible to tap that source? "Yes," say a couple of cutting-edge tech startups. Eole Water proposes to extract atmospheric moisture using a wind turbine. Another company, NBD Nano, has come up with a self-filling water bottle that mimics the Namib Desert beetle. Whether the technology is scalable to any significant degree remains to be seen.

And finally, what about seawater? There's an abundance of that. If you ask a random sampling of folks in the street what we're going to do about water shortages on a larger scale, most of them will answer, "desalination." No problem. Well, yes problem.

Desalination (sometimes shortened to "desal") plants are already widespread, and their output is ramping up rapidly. According to the International Desalination Association, in 2009 there were 14,451 desalination plants operating worldwide, producing about 60 million cubic meters of water per day. That figure rose to 68 million m3/day in 2010 and is expected to double to 120 million m3/day by 2020. That sounds impressive, but the stark reality is that it amounts to only around a quarter of one percent of global water consumption.

Boiling seawater and collecting the condensate has been practiced by sailors for nearly two millennia. The same basic principle is employed today, although it has been refined into a procedure called "multistage flash distillation," in which the boiling is done at less than atmospheric pressure, thereby saving energy. This process accounts for 85% of all desalination worldwide. The remainder comes from "reverse osmosis," which uses semipermeable membranes and pressure to separate salts from water.

The primary drawbacks to desal are that a plant obviously has to be located near the sea, and that it is an expensive, highly energy-intensive process. That's why you find so many desal facilities where energy is cheap, in the oil-rich, water-poor nations of the Middle East. Making it work in California will be much more difficult without drastically raising the price of water. And Nevada? Out of luck. Improvements in the technology are bringing costs of production down, but the need for energy, and lots of it, isn't going away. By way of illustration, suppose the US would like to satisfy half of its water needs through desalination. All other factors aside, meeting that goal would require the construction of more than 100 new electric power plants, each dedicated solely to that purpose, and each with a gigawatt of capacity.

Moving desalinated water from the ocean inland adds to the expense. The farther you have to transport it and the greater the elevation change, the less feasible it becomes. That makes desalination impractical for much of the world. Nevertheless, the biggest population centers tend to be clustered along coastlines, and demand is likely to drive water prices higher over time, making desal more cost-competitive. So it's a cinch that the procedure will play a steadily increasing role in supplying the world's coastal cities with water.

In other related developments, a small tech startup called NanOasis is working on a desalination process that employs carbon nanotubes. An innovative new project in Australia is demonstrating that food can be grown in the most arid of areas, with low energy input, using solar-desalinated seawater. It holds the promise of being very scalable at moderate cost.

The Future

This article barely scratches the surface of a very broad topic that has profound implications for the whole of humanity going forward. The World Bank's Ismail Serageldin puts it succinctly: "The wars of the 21st century will be fought over water."

There's no doubt that this is a looming crisis we cannot avoid. Everyone has an interest in water. How quickly we respond to the challenges ahead is going to be a matter, literally, of life and death. Where we have choices at all, we had better make some good ones.

From an investment perspective, there are few ways at present to acquire shares in the companies that are doing research and development in the field. But you can expect that to change as technologies from some of these startups begin to hit the market, and as the economics of water begin to shift in response to the changing global landscape.

We'll be keeping an eye out for the investment opportunities that are sure to be on the way.

While profit opportunities in companies working to solve the world's water woes may not be imminent, there are plenty of ways to leverage technology to outsized gains right now. One of the best involves a technology so revolutionary, its impact could rival that of the printing press.


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Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:20 | 3276443 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I have read about investing in the water sector on and off for a few years now.  It probably would be a great sector to invest in, with proper homework (which I have not done).

Tyler!  This is a great overview, thanks for putting this article up, I'll go rate it "awesome".

Even with that depressing map (especially between Virginia and Boston), the USA is better off than most other countries (as was written).  We have the time and money to clean up our water and use it better.  This is an important point IMO, China for example has not just a problem, but a BIG PROBLEM re water.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:36 | 3276485 DJ Happy Ending
DJ Happy Ending's picture

No doubt we have problems but the third world will be hit first, the way most of those places use their canals as open sewers and dumping grounds.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:47 | 3276508 Xibalba
Xibalba's picture

This has been a known issue for a long time.  Everyone I talk to who's ignorant of it says, "Just de-salinate the ocean".  

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:10 | 3276555 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

There's a reason that big MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATIONS have been buying up what were previously PUBLICLY OWNED water providers.  Broke governments have been all too willing to privatize these 'assets' - leaving consumers stuck with huge increases in price.  

You don't absolutely NEED oil - you NEED water.

Here in the US you're seeing small private water companies bought up by the bug guys - the local water company just got bought by Suez.


Read 'Cadillac Desert' for a good overview of water in the western US - written in the 80's.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:51 | 3276645 Manthong
Manthong's picture

It matters not how scarce or abundant a resource is..

All that matters is how it can be used to create credit and debt to a banker.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:53 | 3276757 Joe A
Joe A's picture

The same in the EU. The European Commission wants to privatize public water companies all under the banner of 'better quality, lower prices'. Water quality is already good and no, prices will not come down. People who think that water is a commodity and not a basic human right should be withheld water for a few days and then see what they think of it then.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 03:45 | 3276796 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

Just tell your kids they can only shower for 5 minutes :) DRAMA!!

We only have 2 bathrooms so in the morning, as we're with 4, there's always a traffic jam in the bathroom as everybody waits untill the last minute to wash themselves.

So my wife started complaining about my 40 minutes showers and the same for the kids.

We did the 5 minute shower thing for a month, and I can tell you, our water bill went down drasticly!

Than 2 years ago, we installed a organic water purification system. We have a small pawn that is full of bamboo and it filters our bathroom water and reuses it.


It also gives you a good feeling that your not just waiting everything!

And than we also started buying showergels and soaps that where bio, so the toxics didn't kill the biosphere in our pawn because we could see that the wrong soaps where killing off everything.

It's a closed loop system, and the water tastes great! No fluor, chlorine or whatever. Pure water filtered with a carbon system.

And for our electric system we have plenty of solar cells and if need be we have enough land to cultivate food.

The feeling that you can go off grid in a grid society feels great!


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 04:01 | 3276807 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

had to blink for a moment: going off grid in Belgium is not a typical comment at all

an yet this reminds me that all statistics point to the fact that the old adage of Europe being the place of the big cities and grids is outdated

America is way more urbanized, now, though with the additional difficulty that what passes for (grid) urbanization there is way less concentrated and with a smaller average density, thanks to the great US Suburbs phenomenon. this makes grid upkeep way more costly - unless you have very cheap gas, that's it

what is a "small pawn that is full of bamboo"? I presume you mean a pond?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 06:31 | 3276877 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Don't drink water... Fish shit in it...

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 07:30 | 3276918 TwoShortPlanks
TwoShortPlanks's picture

When the price of bottled water doubles I'm switching to the cheaper alternative, Moscato.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 22:37 | 3280399 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

BRAWNO - it's got what plants crave   ........ and its good fopr people too.....

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:17 | 3277288 masterinchancery
masterinchancery's picture

Population density in the US is much lower than Europe.  But the next Ice Age will take care of it all.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:26 | 3276598 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

That's more likely the favored solution (economically viable desalinization), rather than trying to fix the underlying problem, which is systemic. At least as a stop gap solution, and predictably so, as it creates yet another (huge) business opportunity, rather than upsetting current (economical, political) sources of the whole problem.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:28 | 3276687 Squid-puppets a...
Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

you can desalinate water without even requiring electricity/fossil fuels, just using floating evaporative chambers that SEQUESTER (hehe) the evaporated water away

and before anyone says 'the evaporated water is salty', where the f**** do you think rainclouds come from

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:42 | 3276703 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture


you can desalinate water without even requiring electricity/fossil fuels, just using floating evaporative chambers

Obviously not yet viable for large scale production, otherwise everyone would be using it already, instead of existing power hungry systems.

'the evaporated water is salty'

LOLWUT? Evaporating salt - that's novel! Obviously someone has no clue how salt gets to the table... :P

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:51 | 3276709 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

Small-scale water collection will be illegal; it already is in many places. 


The bankers cannot earn anything using small-scale techniques, so these techniques are not allowed.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 08:33 | 3277007 kralizec
kralizec's picture

Stupid laws written by statist pricks are meant to be ignored.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 09:16 | 3277104 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Small-scale water collection will be illegal; it already is in many places. 

The bankers cannot earn anything using small-scale techniques, so these techniques are not allowed.

This is true of farming and other productive processes as well.  Economies of scale are the excuse, but centralization is about empowering bankers, not you.

And a war for water?  As the second amendent guy in NY asked about the government's purchase of billions of bullets:  who are they planning to go to war on?

You want to fight the power? Create a small system of any kind and get off the grid at least partially.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 22:39 | 3280407 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

Look at all the rumors surrounding Tesla's production of 'free electricity' and what happened to all of his efforts.   If you can't meter it and charge for it, for get it.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 06:57 | 3276898 Svendblaaskaeg
Svendblaaskaeg's picture

If CAGW was true..

aka more co2 in atmos = more watervapor = more rain = MOAR free drinkable rainwater (its only fair)

...but its highly overrated and just another scam from the UN Aganda 21 TPTB control freaks



Tue, 02/26/2013 - 14:17 | 3278373 Matt
Matt's picture

Except for stratospheric aerosols aka chemtrails. If the CO2 has an impact, AND they are using chemtrails to suppress global warming, it will make the Earth drier. Of course, it could have more to do with sunspots and cosmic radiation than CO2, but who knows?

Alternatively, LASERS. It may be possible to create clouds and force them to precipitate with LASERS:

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 08:28 | 3276995 HomeBrewPrepper
HomeBrewPrepper's picture

Save The Water, Drink Beer

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:56 | 3276762 Freebird
Freebird's picture

Who the fck needs water when Red Stripe is readily available?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 08:35 | 3277013 samcontrol
samcontrol's picture

buy VE , at 10 buy "bucket loads".

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:20 | 3276447 darteaus
Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:24 | 3276456 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Han Solo tried to shoot first.    Thumbs up on the thorium nuke plants, though the need to throw much of that into water desalination I am very dubious of.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:37 | 3276482 darteaus
darteaus's picture

Who are you shooting at?  King Burger?

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:37 | 3276489 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

You can check their ID after the smoke clears, assuming you survive and have time.   Why do you ask?

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:41 | 3276495 darteaus
darteaus's picture

I can't tell who that is in your picture...

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:54 | 3276522 flacon
flacon's picture

That looks like Lloyd Blankfein with his hair on fire. 

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:29 | 3276606 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture


Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:49 | 3276511 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Chinese keep saying they will develop a thorium reactor that is commerically viable yet the date keeps getting pushed back further and further.  

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:32 | 3276611 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

I care less about it being commercially viable than I do about where they'll put the resulting actinides.

Hanford is leaking badly....and the Chi-Coms are building nuke plants as fast as they can (obligatory bullet train and collapsing building joke here).

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:02 | 3276656 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ 1

Taleb writes that we need to be aware of knock-on effects.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 12:43 | 3278013 Diogenes
Diogenes's picture

Canada's CANDU reactor will run on thorium, although an all new design would be more efficient.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:21 | 3276678 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Now if only thorium researchers would just stop disappearing...

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:22 | 3276453 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Seriously?   This planet's human population is set to peak and reverse course not much higher than it is now, and it rains/snows enough now to make all the fresh water we use now, of which a huge percentage is "wasted" in the narrow sense that it would cost little to use it more effectively.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:55 | 3276584 Laser Shark
Laser Shark's picture

People fail to understand (or refuse to admit) how critical petroleum and petroleum derivatives are.  Oil is a near miraculous substance.  Without it, the planet's carrying capacity is only around 500 million to 1.5 billion.

Peak oil collapses the world economic system, which kills millions and eventually billions of people.  Human beings are then forced back into balance with nature.  That solves all problems from climate change to over-using freshwater.

Taking the carrying capacity effects discussed above into account, I initially set the bar for a sustainable population at the population when we discovered oil in about 1850. This was about 1.2 billion people. Next I subtracted some number to account for the world's degraded carrying capacity, then added back a bit to account for our increased knowledge and the ameliorating effects of oil substitutes. This is a necessarily imprecise calculation, but I have settled on a round number of one billion people as the long-term sustainable population of the planet in the absence of oil.


There's no tomorrow - Energy Independence: The Big Lie

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:03 | 3276726 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Bullshit - eugenist bullshit, I say.

Starts by pretending oil is the be all, end all of (viable) energy sources - it's not, and, in fact, it only still is such a valuable and unavoidable source because of shadowy plays. No, not stupid wind (pff),  or solar, or fusion energy (not in any foreseable future, at least), but thorium, for instance, seems to be so, and in a foreseable future; others may (will) be developed/discovered in the mean time.

Can't be bothered to look at your links, but punk's (still) not dead, I guess (no future bullshit)...

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:33 | 3276745 Laser Shark
Laser Shark's picture

People fail to understand (or refuse to admit) how critical petroleum and petroleum derivatives are.

- Laser Shark

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:30 | 3277326 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

No, you fail to understand (or refuse to admit) it's not really that much so - not in the energy field, at least - and then, still only mainly because you're not being allowed to be proven wrong, due too much economical and political/societal strategies at stake.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 17:38 | 3279306 Matt
Matt's picture

So, you think having nuclear powered tractors and cars is the way of the future?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 22:59 | 3280483 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Ever read about Thorium?

Wed, 02/27/2013 - 02:07 | 3280905 Matt
Matt's picture

Yes. I am familiar with the concept of laser-thorium fission for automobiles. I do not think it is a good idea.

Wed, 02/27/2013 - 15:17 | 3282720 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Apparently the US DoD has a very different opinion from you, or they wouldn't be seizing it (patents/papers) and silencing or killing researchers around the world - I've posted some of these links already, but see for yourself, if you haven't - or just look up "thorium plasma batteries":

It's obviously not just for "cars" - it's down/up-scalable so it could power virtually anything, including weapons, enormously extending their range and capability over current power sources.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 05:02 | 3276828 Lore
Lore's picture

Con artists will be quick to hijack legitimate environmental discourse. How much of all the scaremongering has a basis in truth?  With so many scandals and so many formerly respectable agencies discredited, how can you know?  There's a sense that every narcissistic post-secondary hippie and his vegan dog is scrabbling for a niche in the Sustainability Industrial Complex.  Any truth behind the bell curves, hockey sticks and warnings of shortages is woven into liturgy for Big Green Brother. Even if some enviro-emergencies are genuine after you filter out lies and puffery, how is a "carbon" politburo better than markets at allocating scarce resources with greatest efficiency?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 09:24 | 3277125 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

"Even if some enviro-emergencies are genuine after you filter out lies and puffery, how is a "carbon" politburo better than markets at allocating scarce resources with greatest efficiency?"

I don't want a "carbon politburo", but the markets are broken.  No market will be allowed to come to a decision that the "energy" corporations do not want.  Yes, all energy is their "territory".

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 09:53 | 3277208 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Con artists hijacked legitimate environmental discourse a long time ago - just the fact that today's "global yawning/climate change" scaremongers are the same who, in the 70s, were scaremongering about an impending global cooling, and advocating the exact opposite solutions they advocate today, is proof enough.

As someone has put it, there was plenty of jobless people when cold war ended and modeling the effects of thermonuclear wars became obsolete; so enter "global warning/climate change" and it's climate models... at least let's hope their war models were better and scientifically more honest than current climatic models, although, given the example, I seriously doubt that.

Real emergencies (pollution, bio-integrity, etc.) are not addressed, because even thou those actually affect life, their solution/remedy clashes with big money business model at its root, so, the so-called green movement (which was born as part of nazi movement, btw) just looks the other way...

Btw, you mean as in better at tightening its noose around the world's neck, or better at pretending not to be doing so? I think it sucks either way, honestly; scientifically and economically it's a fraud, but carbon exchanges crashed anyway, so...

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 03:16 | 3276770 The Second Rule
The Second Rule's picture

Trying to have a serious discussion about ANY of the world's problems with someone who cannot even acknowledge something as basic as carrying capacity is pointless. Utterly pointless. Might just as well be talking to a wall. The intellectual degradation in this country is staggering. Maybe it has always been this bad or maybe it's just more visible thanks to the internet. More than 40% of this country is functionally illiterate to the degree that they cannot read a highway road sign or order off a restaurant menu. More than half the country believe in ghosts and haunted houses. But even the moral decay among intellectuals is staggering. People engagin in wishful, techno-narcissistic thinking. Like the author or this article when it comes to peak oil, or the Venus Project or Zeitgeist crowd--people who place their faith in future technologies that haven't even been invented yet, let alone proven. Basically it all boils down to one simple determinant. Namely, if you do not take the problem of overpopulation seriously, then you don't take anything seriously--not global warming, not peak oil, peak water, deforestation, none of it. Watch all the Alex Jones videos you want. Blame it all on the Illuminati. Indulge in a panoply of batshit conspiracy theories and cloak your ignorance in populist rhetoric (refer to yourself as a "patriot" or a defender of liberty) if that makes you feel any better. But denying the fact that we live on a finite planet with finite resources that can support a finite number of species, including humans, is nothing more than an ignorant defiance of basic reality.

Nature bats last.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 05:16 | 3276853 Lore
Lore's picture

I don't have a problem with scenario analysis. Good science is about asking questions and testing hypotheses. My problem is with the type of person who takes something that is NOT proven, calls it gospel, and makes literally billions of dollars pushing snake oil.

No offense, but you seem young. All is not what it seems. Things will become more clear in years to come.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 07:52 | 3276940 Bobbyrib
Bobbyrib's picture

"No offense, but you seem young. All is not what it seems. Things will become more clear in years to come."

By then it could be too late.

Wed, 02/27/2013 - 17:53 | 3278529 Lore
Lore's picture

Good boy. Asking a skeptic to prove a negative is the standard comeback. You want to trust lying psychopaths and throw your own money at them, go right ahead. But it has no place in public policy.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:11 | 3277269 Almost Solvent
Almost Solvent's picture

Nature bats last.

Amen - but don't for a minute think there are not "evil" forces afoot to exploit every last drop until Nature's up to bat. 

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 07:39 | 3276924 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

The planet can sustain 500 millions 'americans'? That would be a surprise.

'Americans' have shown an impressive quality in expanding their consumption to match the new inputs to their 'american' society.

Even returning to the number of 'americans' on 1776, July, 4th could question the sustainability of the 'american' population.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 07:45 | 3276932 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

the more serious discussion is more on how many Chinese and Indians could burn the same amount of oil as the US consumer does in average

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 09:37 | 3277158 downrodeo
downrodeo's picture

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! say it ain't so!...that is terrible news...i'm going to die someday, amn't i?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 11:32 | 3277625 eaglerock
eaglerock's picture

I've often wondered how the UN can predict that the human population will peak at 10 billion or so and then decline on our own.  If you asked the UN 50 years ago they probably said the world population would peak at 4 billion.  Seems to me human population expands every time we invent something to allow it to increase- GM crops, fertilizers, irrigation systems, modern medicine, desalination, even Dean Kamen's portable water purifier.  Seems to me it will continue to increase until we run out of ways to fool mother nature, and then it will all come crashing down.

Sun, 03/03/2013 - 12:22 | 3295395 Ion the Ion
Ion the Ion's picture

with the exception of blacks in africa all other populations have bellow-replacement reproduction, meaning that women have on average less than two children. while populations might continue to expand due to ever-increasing life expectancy, they will eventually start to decline.

with africa it's different. there needs to be some sort of civilizational development to limit families but who knows if that will ever take root there to a great extent.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:26 | 3276467 spdrdr
spdrdr's picture

Baron Harkonnen:  "He who controls the Spice, controls the universe!"

Baron Harkonnen: "The spice must flow!"

Paul  Muad'Dib: "Now remember, walk without rhythm, and we won't attract the worm."

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:31 | 3276474 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Folding space from the oceans of another planet, brillant!   Can Paul Atreides also desalinate it en route?

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:39 | 3276490 darteaus
darteaus's picture

Good job quoting from Dune when the subject is a water shortage.

BTW, I hated working for the Baron; cheap jerk.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:34 | 3276617 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

That's what you get for taking a cushy pension job on Salusa Secondus.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:33 | 3276613 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

"Walk without rhythm, and you won't attract a woman" - Fatboy Slim

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 06:39 | 3276883 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

"The rhythm is gonna get you" ~ Gloria Estefan

"I'm gonna git you sucka" ~ The Rhythm

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 09:03 | 3277073 downrodeo
downrodeo's picture

good answer!

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:27 | 3276468 proLiberty
proLiberty's picture

There is no more a shortage of water than there is a shortage of sand.  If I can buy a bottle of drinking water from Iceland or Fiji at my local convenience store and send it by FedEx to just about anywhere in the civilized world, then water is not "short".  What there is is an unwillingness or inability to pay the amount of money necessary to deliver the desired quanity of suitable quality water to a given user.  

Now if people or nations fight over water, they are really fighting for economic resources to pay for the water they need.  But, like "peak oil", both are alomst silly for how wrong the concepts are. 

Shortage of money?  yes.  Shortage of water?  Give me a break.  

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:31 | 3276473 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Talk to any farmer or anyone who knows anything about agriculture in the Upper Midwest and the Ogallala Acquifer.   Water rights and battles over it are a huge security issue and one of the key reason (probably the key reason) a war may actually break out between Pakistan and India and China intervening with one of her neighbors in SE Asia. 

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:36 | 3276486 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

How about California Central Valley farmers who can't farm so the EPA can enforce a fully retarded federal law they ruled to protect a little fish that lives in the delta?

Any thoughts as to how Israel is a big exporter of produce, from the their tiny desert country?    It's about how one uses the water, too.   Higher prices would yield more efficient use.   Naturally aquifers are a "commons" problem in economics, and pricing of extraction of the water comes to bear here...

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:45 | 3276502 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Water problem in the Central Valley is a hell a lot more complicated than just 'protecting some fish' and has a lot more to deal with water politics in the state & region among varied vested interests.  A key part of that though is the fact that the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas is diminishing over time & there is a lack of infrastructure to capture the water that is failing which increasingly is coming in larger but more infrequent storms.  

Yeah if it would but it would also lead to a real increase in food prices too.  You also conveniently let out how the Israelis have stolen significant water rights from the Palestinians and have conveniently positioned settlements and the barrier in the West Bank to capture as much water rights as possible.   

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:10 | 3276736 Oldrepublic
Oldrepublic's picture

Israel is very interested in getting the water in southern Lebanon

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 09:30 | 3277135 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Building stuff in the desert, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Israel, is a bad idea, because there is no water there.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:49 | 3276513 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

you're kidding right- if this country's farmers are subsidy welfare queens then the group you are referring to are the kings of it

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:20 | 3276577 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

Read 'Cadillac Desert' - written 30 years ago - for an overview of water issues in the US west.   Water is a HUGE problem - we're facing increasing shrotages of graoundwater despite all the dams paid for with taxpayer money, we're drawing down aquifers at absurb and unsustainable rates and the widesppread use of irrigation in agriculture is drawing up salt in the soil - poisoning it.

Problem is that we wasted the best farmland in the US by building suburban subdivisions and shopping centers (depriving cities of LOCAL food sources in the process.   We now depend on distant places to feed our cities (good luck as fuel prices for transport keep incfeasing).


BTW - the US THINKS it's making out by selling wheat, soy beans, corn etc as exports.  Problem is tha with each bushel of food sold abroad we're also exporting all the diesel fuel used to power the machines used to grow it, hundreds of gallons (thousands?) of water - often pumped out of irreplaceable aquifers - needed to grow it and all the other resouces needed to produce the fertilizer. pesticides and all else consumed in its production.  We're growing food and subsidizing the total cost - greatly undervalusing the natural resources that are forever lost in its production.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:56 | 3276650 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

Well said. It's our modern ag methods and other modern methods  that have made the water a problem. See anything by Geoff Lawton (Greening the desert) or John Liu Green Gold. It's how we've mistreated the LAND that have affected the water tables. Those can actually be restored if we would resotre the land to capture hold, purify and absorb it. There is the same volume of water in this "system" but we are significantly screwing up the fresh source.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:56 | 3277434 Shell Game
Shell Game's picture

@cynicalskeptic & DaveyJones:  excellent observations.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 04:50 | 3276761 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

I bought a house in rainy western Oregon for a reason, but I can't seem to remember what it was....

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:16 | 3277282 Almost Solvent
Almost Solvent's picture

I'm only a few miles from the shores of Lake Ontario. 

If I run out of fresh water, shit is real crazy.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 11:32 | 3277624 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Great comment and you obviously actually understand a bit about the issue.  US urban policy and design the last 100 hundreds has been great in terms of its ability to generate growth in the short term but it is going to be a disaster over the next 50 years unless we begin to make some profound changes.

Great example on the food supply point you bring.  Up until WW2, more than 50% in the U.S. homeowners had gardens in their backyards that were a key source of food for them.  There was still food that was supplied by long distances (primarily cooled rail cars which began in the 1870s and had come along way bye the 1930s) but local production was a key source of food.  Americans also ate a very different diet too because even the 40s refrigeration techniques were lacking with frozen food being nonexistant.  We ate a lot more fresh food but in the winter had to deal with much more limited variety (especially of fresh produce and fruit) and use things that had been preserved through pickling, drying, or canning.   It is how my grandparents in PA survived the desperation and didn't deal with hunger issues since they had their own backyard farm and a local farm outside Reading, PA.  They may have been hard up for other things but food wasn't one of them. 

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:38 | 3276627 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

No, you're supposed to shed a tear for multinational agri-businesses as if they were that Paul Harvey farmer from the fucking superbowl commercial.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:46 | 3276639 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

that was disgusting-I did not watch the game but heard about how "great" the ad was so  I pulled it up on youtube and watched 5 seconds of it before I puked on my screen. never underestimate the gullibility of the vast majority of 'muricans.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:37 | 3276623 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

"Israel's water demand today outstrips available conventional water resources, even in a year of average rainfall. Thus Israel relies on unconventional water resources, including reclaimed water and desalination. A particularly long drought in 1998-2002 prompted the government to promote large-scale seawater desalination."

By cheating, of course!

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 07:06 | 3276901 Optimusprime
Optimusprime's picture

That's easy.  Israel steals the water from the Palestinians and the Syrians.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 09:07 | 3277086 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

The same can be said of any commodity.  The difference is that water is one of the few commodities required to live.  I can live without oil.  Not so, water.  And there is a real shortage of water.  People die, today, right now, for lack of water.  That is a shortage.  You might parameterize it by unwillingness or inability to pay the requisite price, but that is the result of a shortage.  The price rises until supply and demand equalize, and some go without.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:27 | 3276470 sitenine
sitenine's picture

Oh fuck! Another war to worry about? Fuck me! Were are we at now with # of wars anyway? I lost count 4 or 5 years ago.. Shit! Frankly, I'm not even that sure what the fuck the word 'war' means anymore.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:01 | 3276538 msmith9962
msmith9962's picture

War means peace.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:28 | 3276472 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Great post and one area I have been looking through water investment technologies as a nice soure of growth.  It would be interesting to see a followup post on how much consolidation there has been in this space in the last decade as the big boys including GE and Siemens have been buying like mad on a global-scale. 

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:35 | 3276484 slightlyskeptical
slightlyskeptical's picture

We have plenty of water. Teh answer is to build large scale desalination plants. If the Fed took one month's off of buying MBS's and instead funded desalination we could make a huge dent in our water supply defecit.


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 03:22 | 3276780 The Second Rule
The Second Rule's picture

And where you gonna get the oil to run the plants? The US isn't Saudi or UAE.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 18:24 | 3279527 Matt
Matt's picture

We'll just use free energy, obviously.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:36 | 3276487 abgary1
abgary1's picture

Singapore recycles their drinking just like the astronauts on the space station. No waste.

Drinking water should not be an issue.

Water for food production might be a problem though if we don't stop waiting 50% of the food we grow.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:22 | 3276582 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

Food production isn't even the worst consumer.  Look at water consumption for use in fracking.  Worse is the processing of tar sands.  And even COAL - pulverized and shipped as slurry in pipelines - uses a huge amount.  And most of these high volume water users are in water short areas.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:37 | 3276488 Mike in GA
Mike in GA's picture

Man, these problems have been around for a long time but they just keep getting bigger and bigger. 

Good article.  Pretty well lays out the situation.  Hard to take water for granted after watching that big lake disappear.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:48 | 3276498 jmc8888
jmc8888's picture

The Western part of North America don't have a water problem, they have Wall Street/City of London Bankster problem coupled with Green Fascism problem.

The plans for NAWAPA (since updated over twenty times) has been on the books since the 60's, and had Kennedy lived the plan was for it to be pushed in his 2nd term.  Instead we got Wall Street/City of London Bankster Vietnam war and ditched the Bretton Woods system.

There is plenty of water for everything west of the Mississippi river in Canada and the U.S. not to mention even into the northern states of Mexico.

The problem is we print money to keep derivatives afloat a little while longer, not utter credit for something we need.

Oh and on top of that as mentioned in the article, desalinization.

Evertyhing you need to know about NAWAPA on this page here




P.S. There are many other plans for other continents as well, most notably PHLINO for Africa.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:55 | 3276527 akak
akak's picture


(What is the proper textual representation for a full rolling of the eyes?)

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:00 | 3276536 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Large parts of that plan are bat-shit crazy especially for the portions of the plan that call for large amounts of water to be pumped uphill over long distances.  It requires some insane power loads in order to make this plan viable. 

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 03:25 | 3276784 The Second Rule
The Second Rule's picture

That's because Larouche himself is batshit crazy. A man who claims we need 12 billion people on planet earth.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:45 | 3276499 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

Wall St needs more golf courses first.  Green shoots.

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:45 | 3276500 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

If a required resource has reached it's limit the population that requires it has reached it's limit.  I find it hard to get worked up over things like this.  The article has implicit in it's writing "somebody needs to do something about this- and fast!"  That's how bad decisions get made, usually by demanding big-government involvement, which makes it even worse, not better.

Out of water?  Out of power?  Sorry, but you're going to stop growing, if only because the pricing mechanism will prevent it from happening, starting at the margin. 

We need to "help" the continued geometric growth of cities in the desert (built on a GAMING industry, not even an innovation/production-based enterprise) like we need to "help" the continued geometric growth of TBTF banks in a stagnant, debt-saturated economy.

If Vegas "needs" more water please remember the only way they are getting more is by taking it from somewhere else.  Who's first in line to donate a bottle of Dasani to the cause?


Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:48 | 3276510 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

There's nothing more refreshing (that cool refreshing drink)
Than a cool, crisp, clean glass of water
On a warm summer's day (That cool refreshing drink)
Try it with your friends

New World Water make the tide rise high
Come inland and make your house go "Bye" (My house!)
Fools done upset the Old Man River
Made him carry slave ships and fed him dead nigga
Now his belly full and he about to flood something
So I'ma throw a rope that ain't tied to nothing
Tell your crew use the H2 in wise amounts since
It's the New World Water; and every drop counts
You can laugh and take it as a joke if you wanna
But it don't rain for four weeks some summers
And it's about to get real wild in the half
You be buying Evian just to take a fucking bath
Heads is acting wild, sipping poor, puffin dank
Competing with the next man for higher playing rank
See I ain't got time try to be Big Hank,
Fuck a bank, I need a twenty-year water tank
Cause while these knuckleheads is out here sweating they goods
The sun is sitting in the treetops burning the woods
And as the flames from the blaze get higher and higher
They say, "Don't drink the water! We need it for the fire!"
New York is drinking it (New World Water)
Now all of California is drinking it (New World Water)
Way up north and down south is drinking it (New World Water)
Used to have minerals and zinc in it (New World Water)
Now they say it got lead and stink in it (New World Water)
Fluorocarbons and monoxide
Push the water table lopside
Used to be free now it cost you a fee
Cause oil tankers spill they load as they roam across the sea
Man, you gotta cook with it, bathe and clean with it (That's right)
When it's hot, summertime you fiend for it (Let em know)
You gotta put it in the iron you steaming with (That's right)
It's what they dress wounds and treat diseases with (Shout it out)
The rich and poor, black and white got need for it (That's right)
And everybody in the world can agree with this (Let em know)
Consumption promotes health and easiness (That's right)
Go too long without it on this earth and you leaving it (Shout it out)
Americans wasting it on some leisure shit (Say word?)
And other nations be desperately seeking it (Let em know)
Bacteria washing up on they beaches (Say word?)
Don't drink the water, son they can't wash they feet with it (Let em know)
Young babies in perpetual neediness (Say word?)
Epidemics hopping up off the petri dish (Let em know)
Control centers try to play all secretive (Say word?)
To avoid public panic and freakiness (Let em know)
There are places where TB is common as TV
Cause foreign-based companies go and get greedy
The type of cats who pollute the whole shore line
Have it purified, sell it for a dollar twenty-five
Now the world is drinking it
Your moms, wife, and baby girl is drinking it
Up north and down south is drinking it
You should just have to go to your sink for it
The cash registers is going "cha-chink!" for it
Fluorocarbons and monoxide
Got the fish looking cockeyed
Used to be free now it cost you a fee
Cause it's all about getting that cash (Money)

Said it's all about getting that cash (Money)
Johny cash (Money)
Roseland cash (Money)
Give me cash (Money)
Cold cash (Money)

Cash rules everything around me,

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:52 | 3276521 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

I' m trying to figure out how to pull an iceberg behind my bass boat

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:00 | 3276535 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Stick Alka-Seltzer tablets into the little slot in the back.  That'll keep it moving along.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:13 | 3276549 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

actually I have a Merc 250 ProXS mounted on an Atlas hydraulic jack plate that moves it pretty well but thanks for the tip.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 18:33 | 3279560 Matt
Matt's picture

A really big net, I think, would distribute the force nicely. Maybe with tarps on the inside between the net and iceberg? Then, just drive slowly. The real question is, what is the break-even price of water for this endeavor to be economically viable?

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:53 | 3276523 Crash Overide
Crash Overide's picture

Keshe Foundation's  MAGRAV technology to desalinate seawater at low cost and high output? I don't know, something a bird said...?

Can I get an honorable mention for Andre Rossi's e-cat...? Any comments from the D.A.R.P.A folks trolling the Hedge tonight?


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:23 | 3276587 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

How, pray tell, can they comment on something that has never been peer-reviewed?

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:55 | 3276528 dolph9
dolph9's picture

This article has it backwards.

Peak oil is real.  When you burn oil or any fossil fuels, the energy is dispersed and you never regain it (it would take more energy to do so).

Water on that other hand is renewable.  Doesn't mean it's abundant...but it's renewable.  When push comes to shove you can collect rainwater and even filter urine.  And nobody actually needs to shower, wash their car, or water their lawns as much as they do.


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:13 | 3276553 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

***And nobody actually needs to shower ... as much as they do***

When I was a kid, I never understood why I needed to take a bath once a week. It seemed excessive.

Also filtering urine sounds like a great idea!

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:16 | 3276571 world_debt_slave
world_debt_slave's picture

As an experiment, I went 8 months without a "shower", just a daily "bird bath". I didn't die and was surprised how well I could go without a "proper" shower. Though after my experiment, a shower felt soooo good!

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:19 | 3276573 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

But then some people need to shower more than they do.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:55 | 3276649 delacroix
delacroix's picture

on vacation, most places I stayed, had no hot water. I noticed I only showered long enough to take care of business. 40 gallons of hot water available 24/7, it's easy to use more than you need.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:49 | 3276643 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

the old lady gives me a golden shower a few times a week- does al gore or ed begley do that

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 10:19 | 3277293 Almost Solvent
Almost Solvent's picture

They prefer hot meals

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 23:58 | 3276531 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

At the first UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1968, the developing nations brought in issues like sanitation, water supply, poverty and food security.

The developed nations brought in noise pollution, littering and billboards.

Eventually the developed nations learned a very small amount about what the fuck is actually going on.  The real issues.....haven't changed a bit.

It is much, much more about economics and distribution than about absolute scarcity.  More people have access to cell phones than to secure, affordable clean water, even today.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:02 | 3276539 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Exactly what it is about especially the distribution part. 

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:03 | 3276541 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

We've been told over and over that if we just step back and let the free enterprise system do its thing then all will be well. Just allow Wall Street an unfettered hand and all the country's water problems will be solved. Capitalism will create a true water park wonderland for the country. You just gotta believe. We don't need no stinking EPA, no sir.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:22 | 3276580 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

Your problem is you are equating Wall Street with the free enterprise system. They are not the same. We have crony capitalism, not free enterprise.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 06:34 | 3276880 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

Unfortunately the Wall Street version is all we have now.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:36 | 3276624 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Where's the free market economy?


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:08 | 3276551 Bansters-in-my-...
Bansters-in-my- feces's picture


Ever hear of "Own The Weather in 2025" ?

You get what you are givin,and you will like it.Or not.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:10 | 3276554 Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

The market is already adressing this problem in some areas, see: Paul Polak. And even *gasp* governments!


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:25 | 3276594 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

I guess "poop water" didn't really fly with the focus groups.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:11 | 3276559 llsmith2449
Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:26 | 3276596 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Every morning.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:12 | 3276561 malek
malek's picture

The article contains some good information but also loads of crap.

Nevadans are not unaware of this. There is at the moment a frantic push to get approval for a massive pipeline project designed to bring in water from the more favored northern part of the state.

The northern part of the state of Navada?? Yes, they have some nice runoff from Lake Tahoe, but that holds no comparison to the Colorado or anything...

Dancing around elephants:
Bemoaning the falling level of Lake Mead, even mentioning the potential of water pipelines, but completely ignoring Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and so on? Makes me only wonder why the writer didn't go through more zig-zags such as wondering if the Great Salt Lake might have potential as a water source? <roll eyes>

How about stating the obvious: water must become more expensive in places such as Las Vegas, so attempts to use less of it get initiated.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:27 | 3276600 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

Vegas has doen a lot to cut water usage but let's be real.  las Vegas is located in a place no SANE person would ever build.  Every time I'vebeen by Hoover Dam the water level has dropped even lower - thata white ring around the lakes is SALT from evaporation - the OLD water levels have dropped so bad the marina outside Vegas has docks almost a mile from where they started out.

Between the energy needed to fly or drive to Vegas, the dropping 'disposable income' of Americans and the rising cost of water and energy (Las vegas w/o AC.!?!?!? yeah...), Vegas will be a ghost town in a couple decades.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:50 | 3276644 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

we can only hope

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:18 | 3276675 malek
malek's picture

Hmm... how often have you been there to "witness the decay"?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:14 | 3276567 world_debt_slave
world_debt_slave's picture

They don't call it liquid gold for no reason.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:22 | 3276585 El Tuco
El Tuco's picture

Once all the water is gone I'm just going to drink booze.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:32 | 3276743 mkhs
mkhs's picture

Why wait til then?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 06:32 | 3276878 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

Don't drink water, fish piss in it. - W.C. Fields

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:23 | 3276586 Falconsixone
Falconsixone's picture

I blame the government

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:24 | 3276589 Tirion
Tirion's picture

I hear you, but I think this is a non-problem. It's a big issue, but technological developments and humanitarian motivations will ensure that supplies of potable water globally will improve rather than deteriorate going forwards. It's already happening on a large scale in the developing world and no doubt the developed world will find a way of meeting its own needs.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:27 | 3276599 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Can they innovate faster than people can fuck and breed?

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:24 | 3276590 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

The inventor of cheap desalination will be a billionaire.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:28 | 3276602 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Not in this world...inventors get fucked and other people make the billions.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 02:44 | 3276750 Jon Bong Jovi
Jon Bong Jovi's picture

No, he'll be murdered.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 11:13 | 3308609 Bob Sacamano
Bob Sacamano's picture

Look at ticker ERII -- I am on the hunt for long term water plays.  I think the problem is real and it is one of those things that if it gets in the MSM they will run these stocks like Apple.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:25 | 3276593 Tsar Pointless
Tsar Pointless's picture

Somebody named "Pat McGroin" on the TickerForum liked to use the phrase "When you think you'll need gold, you'll need lead more". Or something to that effect.

I liked the following phrase I used - "When you think you'll need lead, you'll need water more".

Water uber alles.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:29 | 3276605 Smegley Wanxalot
Smegley Wanxalot's picture

nothing Brita water filters and a pitcher of urine can't fix.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:41 | 3276631 suteibu
suteibu's picture

Too much carbon in the atmosphere, too little water.  Not enough oil, can't use coal (see too much carbon).  Global warming will make the icecaps melt and the seas rise but all of that fresh water released will become salty and desalination is too energy intensive (see can't use coal).  But, global warming is also responsible for heavy snows and rainstorms, a natural desalination process (thanks Mother Nature) but we humans have apparently destroyed that old girl's ability to heal the earth.  Then there's the solar storm that's going to wipe out something we probably need and if that doesn't do us in, we'll get it from a comet or asteroid.  And that Volgon fleet is probably on its way, too.

It's what happens when you mix modern science with political and economic agendas.  What I don't understand is how the American public can be so apathetic about what politicians and bankers are doing to us but buy into this eco-scaremongering without question.

Slartibartfast: Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I think that the chances of finding out what's actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, "Hang the sense of it," and keep yourself busy. I'd much rather be happy than right any day.
Arthur Dent: And are you?
Slartibartfast: Ah, no.
[laughs, snorts]
Slartibartfast: Well, that's where it all falls down, of course.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:59 | 3276652 newengland
newengland's picture

Water shortage is a problem for most of the world, not the USA which has the land mass, rain and engineers, and people to ever was.

Rainy Britain and drought ME are equally incompetent. Ditto for the thieving oligarchs of Russia and communist hierarchy of China.

It is a problem for most of the rest of the world.

Oil vs water.


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:29 | 3276690 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture


Water shortage is a problem for most of the world, not the USA which has the social, political, financial and military belief system to just grab it... as it ever did.


Tue, 02/26/2013 - 00:58 | 3276654 howenlink
howenlink's picture

H2O bitchez!

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:23 | 3276680 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

  Humans 2 Owe, if they have their way....

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:31 | 3276692 Oldrepublic
Oldrepublic's picture

The Great Man Made River Project

The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer

Under Libya: Riches More Precious Than Oil

Great Man-Made River Project (GMMRP

There's no business like war business

Pepe Escobar

The water privatizers

three sisters - Veolia (formerly Vivendi), Suez Ondeo (formerly Generale des Eaux) and Saur - the French companies that control over 40% of the global water market.

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:52 | 3276713 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

when they figured out how much gold and cash US that MoMar had he was as good as dead

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 06:36 | 3276882 falak pema
falak pema's picture

good catch; these water companies have specialised in desalination coupled with electrical producton; areas where Suez has inhouse competence and Veolia and EDF, France's biggest electrical producer have had a common CEO : MR PRoglio.

We are in the HEART of the French crony capitalist nebulous! 

Along with Areva, EADS, and Total. 

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 01:38 | 3276695 plata pura
plata pura's picture

this be when the highest and bestestest use of the precious and it's lessor cousin gold shows it's value. in conclusion a very proper piece of pamphleteering

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