The next war

Saturday August 17, 2013

Next month she’ll be 3; only 3 and yet she is already so keenly aware of the world around her. Well, I should say the small world; the world of a 3-year-old. This is a world in which one lives a life of protection. Her parents ensure that no harm ever comes to her. They teach her well. Use caution when crossing the street. Don’t eat certain things. They instruct her to ride her scooter with the utmost caution, knowing full well that there could be a time when she dumps it and skins her knee. That’s one way to learn. It’s the hard way. The parents do all they can and hope it will be enough.

Oh, to be 3 again and have grownups taking care of you. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way, now does it? Too bad, too, because the headlines of today’s paper are enough to make anyone cry out for a loving mommy; someone who has some smarts and can act with authority. That person is disturbingly absent today.

The news of the day comes from the Texas Observer: "If you want to know how much crude oil was produced in Texas in March, the numbers are available to the barrel (50,087,778). If you need a monthly rig count for the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas or the number of drilling permits issued in 2012 (4,143), the Texas Railroad Commission can provide that information. But if you want to know how much water was used to frack wells for any time period anywhere in Texas’ shale playsÅ  Well, get out your calculator."

The good news from Texas is that they are drowning in oil; the bad news is that a Texas town of 200 people just lost its water. It’s a good thing that we are winding down the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, because we need to prepare for our next big conflict: War over water.

Notwithstanding the fact that Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chair of the U.S. House Science Committee thinks otherwise, our climate is changing and not for the better. As our planet gets hotter more people are going to be making demands on dwindling resources. We’re losing our polar ice caps and our seas will be rising. More seawater is not the kind of water we’re going to need, but it’s what we’ll get.

Mankind may think it needs oil more than anything else in the world, but that’s not true. Man can survive without oil. It may not be pretty.

The population may end up being reduced substantially, but we will survive. Without water, however, we’re done for. Experts say that you can only live three days without water. Some desperate souls have been known to go eight to 10 days. This is not a pretty sight. You can go much longer without food; a few weeks maybe, but not without water.

So, when we learn that our thirst for oil, gas and other energy supplies runs the risk of obliterating our water, our only source for survival, then perhaps it’s time to rethink just what the heck it is we’re doing, don’t you think?

As I see it, you folks have an option; not many options, mind you, but an option. You can demand (and I’ll explain what I mean by demand in a minute) that we make some changes to the program, or end up being a roadside casualty. One thing that you can count on is that the 1 percent, the mega-rich, are going to find a way to get the water that you need.

Thirsty humans are ugly humans and ugly humans are demanding. We’re already seeing things like gated communities designed to protect those who live inside from those who live outside. This concept works reasonably well now to keep thieves out of the homes of the wealthy, but when the water dries up does anyone think the one guy at the gate is going to be enough to keep someone dying of thirst from doing whatever they have to do to survive.

I will refer back to the theme of my past few columns by saying that the real problem facing mankind today is that there are too many of us demanding more than the planet can handle. Much like western medicine we look for a solution for the symptom, not the problem. If the problem is too difficult to address we are left with trying to find a way to live on a warmer planet with dwindling resources. One can only imagine what this future holds. People from urban areas descending upon places like Vermont, because we have water. After three days of no water can we expect that they will ask politely for our water?

I look into the eyes of my granddaughter, not yet 3, I can’t help but wonder if she’ll morph from being the sweet thing she is today to one of the world’s survivors. If she’s anything like her parents she should be fine. I worry about the rest of us, though.

Bob Stannard is a Banner columnist.


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