Out of water

10 thoughts on “Out of water”

  1. Gorgeous image, as always my friend.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about desalination, and how personal failings of particularly powerful people are harming that access.

    Internationally important projects like the green Saudi desalination project through Neom for instance. bin Salman massively set that project back because of the assassination of Khashoggi. That could have really done wonderful things for putting lots of investment behind carbon neutral desalination, and if California were smart, they’d do something similar in Southern California, then use the Central California Water Project to distribute that water backwards. They could dump the excess brine in the Salton Sea, and ironically since desalinated water is LESS BRINY than the Salton Sea, help rehabilitate that environment. They could also use the water produced to mine things like magnesium and other elements important for electric batteries. It’s kinda a no-brainer.

    But as you and I talked about before, we also have to learn to live with less…

    1. Bryan,

      Two points: First, we have to consume less water and we still don’t realize that desalination is not the answer. We need to learn to live with less. On the second point, I too am definitely in the camp of innovation as a way to solve the crisis. I don’t think it is going to be easy. We are starting to see acidic levels of seawater go up, and that too is a bit of a wrinkle. I am looking to do more work in this area — including find and help founders who are thinking about water deeply.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story. I share that same luxury (great showers), but I’m a white kid from northern NJ who grew up in middle class suburbia. I would never have fathomed to think you’d have to go and “get water” to cook, clean, drink and bath with. We need more stories like this. Maybe with what’s happening in Mendocino, more folks will open their eyes and ears to it.

  3. The shower was my eyes this morning. It really touches me this post.

    We are lucky enough to live close to a lake in Magog (Quebec) and take its water for our needs, but this year I cannot overlook that the lake is lower than I’ve seen in many years. It is a lake above all the others in the region, so its unique source is the rain, and it hasn’t rained enough this year. This, as you say, is the new normality I fear.

    For some reason when this subject is evoked, it reminds me of Michael Burry, the hedge fund manager, portrayed in The Big Short by Christian Bale, who quit everything in 2009 to focus on his personal investing. In 2013 he reopened his hedge fund to invest in one simple commodity: water.

    Way before it was on anyone lips, he was saying the futur is water. “Fresh, clean water cannot be taken for granted. And it is not—water is political, and litigious.”

  4. Thanks for sharing that bit about your childhood. My worry about this water crisis is that a scarcity mentality will spill over into other areas of life in the US.

    I’m also an immigrant to the US (from Canada but Indian origin). The California sense of optimism and abundance were an appealing contrast to what Canada felt like in the 90’s.

    I’m hoping that this society can stay nimble and figure out how to shift quickly between scarcity or abundance mentalities as needed.

  5. The story of your childhood in Delhi reminded me of pretty much the same that we saw as kids. And I think millions of other kids that grew up in most of the Indian cities in middle class families. While climate change is real, I somewhere in my heart (not backed up by science at all) have a hope that while some places become difficult to live, others which were so far inhabitable become more livable. For example, what if the Sahara cools down and allows Europeans to migrate?. What is Siberia warms up and Asians move across. With sea levels rising the mountains may not be as high as what they are today. I’m not sure if this is cynicism or optimism; just something that keeps me from being scared of the future and also having the faith that humans as Darwin would have hoped would be the most adaptable.

  6. Om
    Thanks for the insight, one thought I have on water came from a European friend concerned with the water situation in Italy. His point was that from a larger perspective, the amount of water in the world is finite, and the problems in Europe can be argued are due to the time it takes for the water to go from the alps through the city to the ocean and back to the Alps is increasing, so, these delays are a contributor to the available water. For example when people delay the water in its movement it decreases its supply. Its food for thought

    1. Well that is good to know. And a good start. I hope other cities are starting to think about water vulnerability as Mendocino example shows the impact can be quite severe.

  7. Just got around to reading this. Thanks for your perspective.

    A couple years ago I went to the see gorillas in Uganda. As amazing as they are to walk among, my biggest take away was the vision of people carrying water up a mountain that I struggled to walk up for an hour. I too love a luxurious shower, and the vision of everyone there needing to get water everyday led to me being a lot more conservative in my water usage.

    Thanks again for sharing.

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