Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Avoiding water wars.


One of the blogs that I closely follow is Climate Progress, principle author Joseph Romm. It is particularly relevant since Romm is a physicist specializing in climate and also is associated with John Podesta's Center for American Progress, a close Obama ally. While I may disagree with him on the policy implications, I trust Joe to get his facts right.

I am also a fan of good crime fiction and he caught my interest with a post headed "Murder, she wrote." That post wrote of a climate researcher / blogger named Johnnie Rook, a man who is dying and wants to be assured that the world he lives behind will be one in which his grandchildren can live. Poignantly Rook continues to provide good input on climate even as he knows his end from cancer will be relatively soon, his current treatment is only pallative.

Still, for all his story makes us care what happens, and for all the work Rook has done to warn us of what is going to happen with the climate, he steps into deep mud when he tries to be prescriptive about how to avoid the water wars and the feces wars.

Click Read more! for an analysis.


Rook does a very good job in describing the scope of the problem with particular attention to the way that it has been positioned by vested interests. The choice of the Klamath River potato / salmon war was a wise one, because it illustrates the way that unintended consequences accompany political tinkering. Choices seemed easy when the crisis could be defined as farmers / food supply against fish.
Aside from the ecological impact, such decisions also affect our food supply and individual livelihoods. Cheney stepped in to tinker with the science so that instream uses were canned in favor of diverting water to the farmers. The collateral consequences of this tinkering were 77,000 dead salmon, the federal government declared a “commercial fishery failure”, Congress provided disaster aid of $60 million to the fishermen and $15 million to farmers to not farm in order to reduce water usage.
It is obvious that wiser solutions are required, solutions that consider long range impacts on entire ecosystems and not just individual uses at a given location and a particular point in time. That is what ecology is all about.

Unfortunately, when Rook tries to define his own solutions, he makes the same mistakes, putting people outside the ecosystem instead of including us along with all other life. He ignores the manner in which bio-regions exist and proposes gigantic infrastructure spending to redistribute the fresh water that we have rather than to consider changing the distribution of water needs, of reducing usage, of not planting cotton in the desert and all of the other dumb things the people do.

We would honor Rook by taking action now to prevent as much of the coming climate change as we can, hopefully before it becomes a climate collapse. We would honor all life by learning to live with the planet we have instead of re-distributing it's resources in unsustainable ways. We have done enough of that already.

1 comment:

Ross said...

JohnnyRook passed away.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/5/23559/31946/555/705253