….use of water has increased, and in many places water availability is falling to crisis levels. More than eighty countries, with forty percent of the world’s population, are already facing water shortages, while in this century the world’s population will double. The costs of water infrastructure have risen dramatically. The quality of water in rivers and underground has deteriorated, due to pollution by waste and contaminants from cities, industry and agriculture. Ecosystems are being destroyed, sometimes permanently. Over one billion people lack safe water, and three billion lack sanitation; eighty per cent of infectious diseases are waterborne, killing millions of children each year.” World Bank Institute
We owe our children, and theirs— a sustainable future.
We owe our planet-home reasonable and responsible behavior that complies with the laws of nature. As the most prolific species on earth, are we facing our realities?
First question: what provides the most important aspect of human existence? Answer: clean water!
The latest warning signs manifested at Lake Lanier, Georgia in November 2007. If ever a wake-up call, the vanishing waters of the lake portend water shortages for five million people–today. Nonetheless, the Peach State expects to grow from nine million people in 2007 to 16.4 million by 2050. Hello! Knock, knock! Anybody at home?
Charles Gibson, anchor for ABC World News Tonight, February 8, 2008, said, “Scientists say Lake Mead, which provides water for millions in the west, expects to go dry by 2023. It’s caused by drought, climate change and human population growth.”
On February 21, 2008, anchor Brian Williams at NBC reported that Georgia legislators wanted to extend that state’s northern border two miles north in order to annex the Tennessee River. That would allow them to stick a big pipe into a new water source.
Colorado State University professor Neil S. Grigg wrote in the Denver Post, “Not a Drop to Spare”, February 17, 2008, said, “Colorado’s water supplies are nearing their limits, and there is little hope for new sources. What’s next?”
None of those experts reported that Georgia’s current population of 8.5 million would double to 16.4 million in four decades. Colorado’s expects to double from 4.6 to 9.8 million. California’s expects to add 20 million in 30 years. Never once did any of the experts pin the needle on the population donkey! It makes you wonder; who made overpopulation a sacred, untouchable cow? Why? Who do they expect to benefit?
Growth and rampant population
As you appreciate, ‘carrying capacity’ becomes the most important phrase in our 21st century vocabulary. It entails the amount of human and animal life a limited area of land can sustain in perpetuity.
As this population overload advances, we face major water dilemmas.
In a September 30, 2006 Rocky Mountain News report, Boulder scientists predicted grim drought forecasts for the West. To support their claim, they used eighteen of the world’s most powerful computer climate models. Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, “Climate change is moving us in the direction of a perpetual state that is of the Dust Bowl type.”
Scientists expect increased evaporation and drier soils leading to more severe and frequent droughts. Hoerling said, “Droughts could be 25 percent worse than the 1930s Dust Bowl days.”
Who stands to suffer the greatest risk? Today, citizens downstream of the Colorado River devour 13.5 million acre feet of the river. Bob Raynolds of NOAA said, “We’re going to have to adapt our survival strategies to coping with less water.”
My question is: how will we adapt when we’ve added 100 million people in the next three decades? Why not choose a stable population now so we won’t have to adapt, but in fact, flourish with a constant population that remains sustainable?
Associated Press writer James McPherson on July 30, 2006 wrote a piece “Without Rain, Dakotas Dry Up.” He reported, “Fields of wheat, durum and barley in the Dakotas this summer will never end up as pasta or bread…what is left is hot winds blowing clouds of dirt from dried-out ponds.”
More than 60 percent of the United States suffered abnormally dry or drought conditions in the summer of 2006. While I traveled 20,300 miles through 48 states in June, July and August–I saw burned up corn and pigmy crops from lack of water. This drought stretched from Georgia to Arizona and from Montana to Wisconsin.
Will America experience commensurate rainfall to provide food and water for that added 100 million? Will we be able to feed and water our 300 million already in the USA? Can science produce miracle crops that grow without water?
Emphatic answer: No!
According to Mike Matz, “Losing Spaces”, Denver Post, December 23, 2007, American farmland and wetlands vanish at 6,000 acres per day which equals 2.19 million acres annually for new malls, highways and housing. Ground water stores cannot recharge.
Along with lack of water, we degrade water quality. Californians buy more filtered water than anywhere else in America. Why? They can’t provide enough clean water to their 37.5 million residents. What about polluted and chemicalized water run-off. We spray crops, inject insecticides and apply herbicides onto millions of acres of farmland. It seeps into our groundwater and runs into our rivers. The Mississippi River spews millions of gallons of fertilizer and chemically poisoned water into the Gulf of Mexico that creates a 3,000 square mile dead zone where few fish or native marine life can live. Every river running out of the United States and most industrialized nations carries enormous amounts of poisons. Acid rain from toxic air pollution falls with every rainstorm.
With blinders fully in place, we pursue rampant population growth with no concern toward future generations. Big surprise— people need water to survive.
The World Health Organization reports, in 2006, "Thirty-five percent of humanity doesn't have access to clean drinking water."
Is the United States immune to water problems?
Short answer: no!
"Is a multibillion-dollar tax hike that could boost water bills as much as 50 percent again hanging over New York City?" New York Post writer Carl Campanile said. "The threat comes from the impact of three large upstate real-estate development projects bordering reservoirs that feed the city's drinking-water supply."
Campanile reported, "The state's watershed inspector general, Robert Tierney, raised red flags over these projects:
* A 2,000-acre Catskill Park resort complex surrounding Belleayre Mountain Ski Center could pollute the Ashakon and Pepacton reservoirs.
* A 273-unit housing development and mall in Putnam County could increase pollution in the Croton Reservoir.
* A 104-lot subdivision – also in Putnam – could have a deleterious effect on the Muscott Reservoir.
"These projects are deemed important to upstate economic development. But at what cost to the city?"
Pollution threatens drinking water all over the U.S.
Humans and wildlife stand at risk.
Campanile said, "Pollution, sure to be generated by the developments, likely will prompt the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force New York City to build a water-purification complex costing billions to construct and hundreds of millions annually to operate.
"These costs would be passed directly to property owners. That would mean hugely inflated water-tax bills for single-family homeowners – particularly in residential Queens and Brooklyn."
Campanile continued, "Even worse would be the impact on owners of rental properties. Unlike electricity or gas, there is no way to effectively measure per-apartment water use in a single-meter building. Thus, landlords would be stuck with the full burden of higher water and sewage rates—while being severely restrained by rent regulation from passing the costs along. This could drive marginal properties into bankruptcy."
New York Governor Spitzer said, "I'll be neutral while trying to negotiate a compromise between the Catskills’ developers and the city's interests."
Over Public Economic Development Health
Spitzer promised to champion economic development there.
Do you see how this kind of thinking drives our civilization over a cliff? In the face of water shortages or damages done to rivers as well as the environment, a sitting governor presses for more development. That means more destruction of the wild, which, in turn creates a cascading effect on everything in our environment.
Let's further see how ironic, useless and inept our leaders prove themselves as they pretend to face our future water dilemmas caused by overpopulation.
Do Our Leaders Understand Population's Impact on Environment?
Newsweek, April 16, 2007, "Leadership and Environment" interviewed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger "The Green Giant" with a picture of him puffing on a cigar. While he filled his lungs with toxic chemicals from the stogie, 37 million Californians' cars, trucks, ships, power plants and homes filled the skies with enormous pollution exhaust.
Arnold promised to reduce California emissions in 2020 by 174 metric tons.
What didn't he promise? What didn't he address? What did he ignore?
California expects another added 40 million people by 2050 to reach 79.1 million. (Source: “US Population Projections for 2050” Fogel/Martin, March 2006) What does that mean? It means that nothing will be solved. Every aspect of California's accelerating consequences will be multiplied by adding 40 million people.
Not One "Leader" in Newsweek Mentioned Root-Cause
Later in Newsweek's presentation, they featured mayors of cities across America taking the lead. Again, none of their actions will work because none addresses the certain negative impacts of adding 100 million people.
Newsweek's Karen Springen wrote another article on the effects of human population, "Will Polar Bears Be OK?" Again, no mention of human overpopulation or stabilizing our numbers!
More People, More Combustion Engines, More Greenhouse Gases
Another Newsweek piece by Jessica Ramirez, "How to Live a Greener Life" presented wonderful methods for curbing billions of metric tons of greenhouse gases created in the US annually. As if trees can compete with millions of combustion engines burning 20 million barrels daily! They cannot!
Newsweek continued with a report on China's water crisis caused by its staggering 1.3 billion people. Orville Schell reported, "The most dramatic national transformation in human history is being threatened by a lack of water. More than 70 percent of China's rivers are severely polluted. One can drive a hundred miles in any direction from Beijing and never cross a healthy river. Many rivers have dried up from human overuse. In 80 percent of rivers still flowing, water quality has been rated 'unfit for human contact' as well as agricultural or industrial use."
China: Wall-to-Wall People
I've traveled throughout China on my bicycle, up close and personal. China features wall-to-wall people. No let up! No end to it! Accelerating pollution! Compacted living! No escape! Modern Chinese want to imitate Americans; with more and more pollutants. Vicious circle!
At our current population growth, we follow China and India's disastrous footsteps as we grow toward 1.0 billion people in this century. Fifty years from now, the same report on China's enormous dilemma will be our nightmare, especially in the West, and throughout the United States.
At least one person in Newsweek's report spoke rationally. K.R. Sridhar said, "I'm not against conservation, but the idea that we can conserve our way out of this problem will not hold."
Mother-Nature Always Wins
Everything reported in Newsweek reminded me of a vision— Governor Arnold, the great muscleman, jumping into the Colorado River north of I-70 in springtime— with a goal of swimming to its source in the Fraser Valley near the Continental Divide in Colorado. The scene proves magnificent; his mighty muscles carry him upward, past the torrents of melting water rushing out of the Rocky Mountains.
Sure enough, the press features him making tremendous progress. Each day, he puffs on his cigar with confidence in his journey. However, the mighty Colorado kept adding water to its annual snow-melt runoff. As Arnold progressed, in reality rushing water swept him backwards— downstream.
In the end, even Arnold suffered total defeat by the forces of nature.
Connecting the Dots— Unchecked, Rampant Population Growth
As you connect the dots in this book, California’s fate becomes America’s future. If we fail to take aggressive steps to address the root-cause, population, we crash, no matter how much we pretend to make progress.
Water? No longer pure! No longer clean! Dangerously polluted! No longer ample!