Southwest Megadrought Threatens Human Survival; “Now” Generation Politicians Respond—What Crisis?
The disaster that is California today did not begin with the state's current leadership. While the drought and its effects garner the headlines, and the periodic rolling black outs of electricity piss people off, the largest state in the nation also suffers what the nation is also plagued with: Collapsing living standards, mass homelessness and drug addiction and deaths, and dramatically increased crime and murder rates.
Yet that did not just begin with the Biden presidency, its insane money printing, instigated energy crisis and inflation, and its insane provocation of war with nuclear armed Russia. We have been heading to this Hell for decades. The current degenerates are just the logical end product, unable to even pretend competence in fundamental survival skills. Jake Sullivan is not even embarrassed to admit that he only learned what a “supply chain” was when he assumed his Chair at the Biden National Security Council.
It began with the assassination of President John Kennedy, the murderous war in Vietnam, and then the beginning of the transformation of the nation from one that believed in progress, built for future generations the infrastructure they would require, and landed a man on the Moon, to a virtual gambling casino economy of deregulated banks and utilities and the worship of money. That was accompanied by the development of a drug and hedonist culture, with a direct assault on the idea of scientific and technological progress. The “change agent” for that culture was the Club of Rome initiated zero growth and environmentalist religious cult now dominant.
That is the context for discussing the drought and water crises in especially the southwest states and, more directly, in California.
As for real solutions, well, the building of nuclear power plants, dozens of desalination plants and great transformative infrastructure, like the North American Water and Power Alliance, are impossible without the bold leadership required to solve crises, not just manage them. We would not be in the crisis we face today had NAWPA been built as President Kennedy, Senator Frank Moss, and the former leaders of the Western states proposed. Building it must start now. There is no other sane choice. Funding it, and similar urgent economic recovery projects demands nothing less than the end of the casino economy which has cannibalized the productive economy to the point that we are now rationing the very means of life: food, water, and energy.
In addition, the environmentalist bureaucracy that forces companies to jump through unending hoops to build a project must be excised from the structure of government at every level. Take the California Coastal Commission as a specific case. In July, it rejected the building of a large desalination plant at Huntington Beach after forcing the builder, Poseidon Water, to jump through its hoops for 21 years.
Crisis management works within the boundaries of present thought, structures, and budgets. When that system itself is a failure, no adequate solution is possible within it. You must begin, with great urgency, anew. As a result of operating within this failed system, thousands of farmers in California are about to lose their land, some of whom have owned it for generations. The state of California is even now warning that more restrictions and cut-offs of water are already on the agenda for next year. This year alone, more that 1200 wells have failed, leaving homes, farms, and even small communities with no access to water. And more than 500,000 acres of the best agricultural land in the world have been fallowed.
It took 50 years to bring us to the crisis we now face
50 years of not building water infrastructure created this avoidable crisis. By 1972, the California water management system was the largest and most complex system in the world. It provided abundant water for the state's 20 million people and ensured such until the 1990s. It was built by Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, along with at least one governor, Pat Brown (1959-1967). These men built the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, the Central Valley Project, the California State Water Project, and many of the 1400 dams and reservoirs in the state. They created the world's first integrated water management system which united all the state's river watersheds into one coordinated and centrally controlled complex. This system allowed northern California to provide southern California and the city of San Diego, 800 miles south of Shasta Dam, water for its growing population and agriculture.
Beginning in the early 1990s, what had been built for those 20 million people, and for the 30 million people in the state in 1990, began to break down. By 1993, and in more than one-half of all the years since, agriculture has been denied the amounts of water they ordered from the water districts in which they farmed. Since 2000, in some years, farmers have received zero or even just 5-10% of what they requested. Not all farmers, of course, for this large state has never had a uniformity of water supplies. California had produced between 40 and 60 percent of the nation's fruits and vegetables, and more than 80 percent of the nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and more) consumed by Americans. That is now threatened.
In the droughts of the past decade (2012-2017, and the current three-year drought) zero, or near zero, allocations for tens of thousands of farms has been the rule and farmers are being warned that even more drastic cuts will be made next year. In addition, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWDSC), which in past years would receive two to four million acre feet of water from Northern California, is now receiving zero water. The MWDSC serves 19 million customers, and, for the first time this year, is rationing six million of them.
The Colorado River
Now look at the Colorado River, from which California's allocation is 4.6 million acre feet annually, with most of that going to the Imperial Valley along the border with Mexico. The Imperial Valley is the “vegetable basket” for the nation's winter supply of lettuce and other produce, creating an estimated two-thirds of the supply.
The primary consequence of the 22-year megadrought in the Colorado River Basin is that the river is now flowing at an annual rate of about 11 million acre feet, but the water allocated to the seven states of the Colorado River basin and Mexico is 16 million acre feet annually.
The Colorado basin has been in a megadrought since 2000, yet the states and Mexico have continued to take their full allocation every year. Now the two largest reservoirs on the river, Lake Powell, behind the Glen Canyon Dam, and Lake Mead, behind the Hoover Dam, are at about 25% of capacity. Without drastic reductions of the withdraws from the river, both reservoirs are nearing “dead pool.” That means that no water can be withdrawn, nor electricity generated. How serious is that? The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and electricity to about five million customers.
Last year, the Bureau of Reclamation (the part of the Department of Interior which manages the river) declared a Tier 1 emergency on the river. This declaration meant that on January 1, 2022, the allocations for Nevada were cut by 5%, for Mexico 5%, and for Arizona 18%. Further cuts were instituted after the Bureau declared a Tier 2 emergency, making the total cuts 8% for Nevada and Mexico and 21% for Arizona.
In June, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that the states, and Mexico, must reduce their withdrawals from the river by at least two million acre feet, and maybe four million acre feet, annually. If the states do not come to an agreement on how much each will reduce their withdraws, the Bureau itself will impose its plan to do so. A deadline of August 15 was set, but when no agreement had been reached by the states, the Bureau punted and allowed the states to continue to attempt to come to such an agreement. As Dan Keppen of Irrigation Today put it on October 9: “Colorado River Basin states and water users this summer have been both posturing and scrambling to find ways to respond....”
Two weeks ago, the four California water agencies that receive water from the river, sent a letter to the Department of the Interior stating that California will voluntarily reduce its allocation by 400,000 acre feet annually. Other states responded that California's offer, finally, can provide a beginning for serious negotiations. However, they said, California, being the largest user of the water, must do more.
The demand that the states reduce the amount of water that they withdraw from the river by two to four million acre feet annually, means in percentage terms, about a 30 percent reduction. California's offer of 400,000 acre feet is about 9 percent of its 4.4 million acre feet allocation.
Whether the states and Mexico can come to some agreement in the next two months is still an unknown. What the federal government will do if there is no agreement is also an unknown. But, there is no question that the crisis level of the reservoirs as they get closer and closer in approaching dead pool makes certain that one or the other action will be taken.
There are no short-term solutions
As stated above, there are no short-term solutions to this crisis, which is not just affecting California and the other southwest states. With more than 50% of the entire country in drought, the damage to especially the nation's agriculture, its food supply and the resulting inflation in prices for food represents the greatest economic crisis our nation has ever faced. In Franklin Roosevelt’s March 4, 1933 inaugural address he appropriately located the source of the problem in the predatory, oligarchical financial system then reigning:
Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
“True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
“The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men. . .
“Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people's money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.”
FDR followed this speech with regulatory measures which curbed Wall Street and allowed for the direction of credit, as envisioned by Alexander Hamilton, to the great project of rebuilding the country out of the Great Depression. Much of the infrastructure platform we have in the nation today rests on that productive economic mobilization. The extended mobilization leading into World War II produced the most productive economy which had ever existed in the world. The last of Roosevelt’s regulatory measures, the Glass/Steagall Act, prevented any new general banking and financial crisis for the next 66 years.
Now our situation is more complex but equally susceptible to creative and bold remedies, provided we end the present system. Unlike 1933, the present system is global and we have ceded our financial and physical economic future to globalist central bankers. After the repeal of Glass/Steagall in 1999, these money-changers inflated a world-wide bubble which had been building since the 1960s. That entire system collapsed in 2008. Rather than returning to the national banking practices which, under Hamilton, Lincoln, McKinley, Roosevelt, and Kennedy had produced a productive renaissance, our Federal Reserve bailed out the banks and the speculators, both here and abroad, feeding and growing the speculative cancer which is presently consuming us. As with most imperial systems, this one invariably leads to wars. Like Hamlet, our present leaders romanticize the peaceful sleep of death;
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.
It is time to end this system and replace it with American System principles favoring the producers and the people. That means ending the Federal Reserve and restoring our economic sovereignty and cultural dedication to fundamental scientific discovery and technological progress. It means destroying the modern British financial empire while establishing a fixed exchange rate international financial system centered on the physical economic development of the earth and space. Out of such a fundamental shift, the solutions to the Southwest’s water crisis flow readily and happily, allowing us to bear the horrible hardships which will persist as we build out those solutions. We will have regained the “name of action.”