Thursday, October 22, 2009

Water supply issues mask a deeper problem

The NYTimes yesterday published an editorial calling for reform of water supply/ pollution legislation and vigorous enforcement of existing laws. I wrote this response:

Everything the NYTimes editorial board recommends in this article is true, I believe. Yet this editorial has a fundamental problem. It doesn't examine the cause of our overuse of our water supplies.

That cause is overpopulation--the issue the American left abandoned decades ago, for fear of being called racist--and because neither liberals nor conservatives, for the most part, have the integrity to face our real problems, because they'd rather not face the solutions required.

Look at an article in this very issue of the Times, titled \"Experts Worry as Population and Hunger Grow,\" stating that currently world population is slated to grow to 9.1B people in 40 years, which in turn will require increasing \"food production 50% in 2030 and 70% in 2050\"--with a communsurate increase in water supplies. And while the perceived overpopulation growth is in the third world, America uses vastly more natural resources than the equivalent number of third world people and land.

The world population was only 1 billion in 1900. Then it took off. Glassy eyed optimists claim that we can feed more people. OK. How many more? Do you honestly think the Earth has infinite growth possibilities for water and food supplies? We're going to tap out everything, technology notwithstanding, sooner or later. And then what? As that article states, today over a billion people suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition.

And students of war predict that future wars may be fought over water more than anything else--especially where the water moves across national boundaries. We led the charge by destroying Mexico's once-fertile Colorado delta farmlands when we built Hoover Dam--and now that land has been poisoned by salt water intrusion into the water table.

In this country, overpumping is destroying our porous aquifers, as is happening worldwide. Those are underground rock formations that store water. When we overpump these formations the rock settles and it can't store water any more. Then it just runs off into the ocean, and the wells run dry.

So--want to solve our water problems? Start by not letting anyone else into this country, then expel anyone who isn't here with our permission, then follow Communist China's lead by mandating one-child families, then provide free contraception and abortion to anyone, no questions asked.

Sound too harsh? Wait 'till you see what Mother Nature's preparing to do to us if we don't solve our problems ourselves. They'll make the draconian solutions I've proposed look like pattycake in the garden.


Anonymous said...

Mandating one child is awfully hard to do. Like you pointed out, it is not impossible though.
What do you think of the prospect of paying women (young women) to get their tubes tied? This would be most appealing to women who can't afford to have kids and, should they get to a point where they can afford kids, they can pay to have the surgery reversed, or artificial insemination.

Ehkzu said...

Well, to continue my doom-gloom line of thinking--probably nothing will be done until we're on or past the brink of catastrophe and become a dictatorship/police state. That's the only way Communist China was able to implement its one child policy.

OTOH India has been experimenting with various reproductive limitation measures--without too much success, I observe.

One slightly optimistic note is that number of children generally correlates with women having rights. Women with rights rarely have ten kids (with some religious exceptions). So anything that educates and empowers women worldwide is almost sure to help with overpopulation.

The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, now being emulated around the world, may provide a good model for this. Women with businesses get a say in how the home is run.

Anonymous said...

Wow. It hurts to think letting the government or any entity control how many children families are allowed to have. Who in their compassionate heart would want any country to end up like China?

From my readings on "over population", I am not convinced that the world cannot sustain our current growth or even more. It is not that we do not have enough food (think of all the land in the U.S. of open plains not being used that could be turned into environmentally watched agri farms) but it is the unfair distribution of food that allows world hunger to grow.

We Americans and anyone in a developed country, waste a lot of resources (energy, food, water) that our waste could feed some third world countries. So, I don't think the world does not have enough, but the government mentality of profit gains and number crunching with our own luxury lifestyles (compared to third world countries) off sets the balance of Wordly Wealth Equality.

Water supply and food shortage is the effect, the symptom of a deeper rooted, often hush-hush problem of government corruption, "elitist" controlling the distribution of wealth for said profits...

Reducing the human population through government control on your life is not and I pray to God will not be the answer, and nor should people sacrifice their basic rights to life and happiness.

We can protect the environment while sustaining our own growth, we have the technology, more and more people are educated and stepping up so we have the man-power... The biggest obestacle is the plague of misinformation main-stream media brainwashes (yes, I literally mean brainwash) us, the common people, with. Then, another big hurdle is getting past big coroporations and government (government with their lame excuses and slow moving to act on evironment safety who get paid by polluting money making corporation lobbyist) to for once LISTEN and ACT upon the betterment for all Earthlings (humans, the bugs, the furry, the fishes, all animals).

We have the technology, but how many grants do you think these scientists get with their spitting-edge technology when it threatens the profits of huge corporations who stand to lose billions if these new technology was introduced that would allow use to live more efficiently, less wastefully, at cheaper expenses with better results...

I don't think I can say enough.

Ehkzu said...

You ask "Who in their compassionate heart would want any country to end up like China?"

I think you should. China doesn't have millions of starving people, as India does. It's a repressive dictatorship, but starving to death takes away more rights than political repression. If you could hold a plebiscite in China, I bet they'd opt for their system over India's. Likewise if you go across the Third World to the countries where the world's 1 billion starving people more or less live, you'd see widespread scenes of utter misery & suffering that have no parallel in China.

For these people, their choices are not between living like Americans or living like Chinese. They're between starving to death or living like Chinese.

You say "I am not convinced that the world cannot sustain our current growth or even more."

Well...yes & no. Right now the world's underground water table supplies (the porous aquifer), forests & fisheries are being wiped out. We can "sustain" this until the last coral reef has been bombed into oblivion, the last tree in the Amazon basin cut down, the last well run dry, and, in coastal land & farmlands that were once seabeds (such as California's Central Valley), until the water table becomes so salty that it no longer can support agriculture.

Today these things are going on at a rate that is unsustainable in the long run. Much of it is also irreversible in a human timeframe. Bombed coral reefs lose their ability to be nurseries for large numbers of food fish, & they lose that ability for generations.

Tropical forests grow on thinner soils than those of temperate lands. Absent the forest, crops grow well for a season or two, but soon the monsoon rains wash the topsoil away, & even if you let the land lie fallow for generations, the forest does not return.

Same goes for the wells running dry. The porous aquifer collapses & won't return for geological epochs.

All over the world fisheries have collapsed as factory fleets from China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan & European nations efficiently extract the last fish from fishery after fishery worldwide.

Technological developments will come, but they won't overturn the laws of physics or of biology. Collapsed porous aquifers will not return. Vanished topsoil will not return. Destroyed reefs create vast tracts of limestone rubble that new solid reefs can't grow on.

Also, the fertilizers & pesticides used to provide our current level of agricultural production are destroying fisheries in waterways & the coastal marine areas where most oceanic fish come from.

But beyond all of this, go back & look at the graph in my original article. It shows clearly how the world's population explosion hasn't taken place in the advanced nations.

For example, Mexico's population went from 20 million in 1940 to over 100 million in 2000. Say we take in the 100 million Mexicans who say they want to move here. What about the next 100 million now being conceived in the wombs of Mexican women across that country, who will also want to move to El Norte?

Without drastic intervention, the population will keep exploding until famine, plagues, & genocidal wars cap that growth.

The path of short-term compassion leads to a Hell on Earth whose magnitude few can start to comprehend.

And--much as you might rail against exploitation of the Third World by corporatists & citizens in the First World, & much as much of this indictment is true as far as it goes--the fact remains that we did not overpopulate our own nations, & they did overpopulate theirs. This is not America's fault.

So...why am I obligated to support peoples & cultures that are destroying the world? How is it moral to support such societies? Rather, aren't I morally obligated—for the sake of all future generations worldwide—to oppose any efforts that enable overpopulation to continue?