Recent articles have described the use of gray water – incompletely treated sewage – in snow machines at Arizona ski resorts and elsewhere. The Hopi nation is suing to stop this practice at one resort, and it appears that at least one court believes their case should proceed.
This reminds me of a battle over the use of incompletely treated sewage to water the soccer fields of one southern city. These fields are used by youth soccer leagues. The city and the sewerage authority (separate entities) both claim it is safe. At least one environmental scientist has argued otherwise. But, like so many issues, it’s been buried by a series of statements from politicians, nebulous statements, proclamations such as “It’s safe. Trust me. Take your Soma.”
The Hopi battle against the use of gray water from sewage plants is likely to be a harbinger of things to come. One of the problems in this county is that while the county provides water to all residents, much of the county is rural, and people are “on septic.” The water that is removed from lakes and streams and pumped to them does not flow back through a sewage treatment plant then to the lakes and streams. At best, it evaporates and may join clouds that may drop rain on our watershed. In other words, we’re taking out much more than we are putting back. And that’s a problem that is going to get worse as the county grows. Developers are adding literally hundreds of new homes just north of me. The new residents will increase demand for water. Although they will be on sewer, they will be watering lawns and landscaping and filling swimming pools. That water, like septic, evaporates and doesn’t always get back in the lakes and streams.
I’ve been reading Jared Diamond’s book, “Collapse.” It talks about why civilizations such as Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, the Greenland Norse, the Maya, and others collapsed. So far, it seems the reasons are (1) people making decisions the consequence of which they couldn’t foresee and (2) leaders making decisions to benefit themselves at the expense of the populace.
There are often environmental factors associated with (1). For example, the Greenland Norse arrived during a climatic warm period, and thought the weather would always support their kind of farming and herding. Then, there was a cold spell, crops failed, smaller and more remote farms could not support the farmers, so they moved to towns or larger farms and stressed the limited food supply. Eventually, most of the colony starved to death. They could not foresee the cold spell, and only a few degrees of cooling killed them.
Easter Island is an example of (2). Chiefs required the people to erect all those statues, which took labor away from farming. Moving and erecting the statues required a lot of wood (logs to roll them on, if I remember correctly). Eventually all the trees were cut down. Without tree roots to hold the soil, and without people to work the farms, the soil became depleted and – once again, everyone starved to death.
Yes, there are reasons to believe that our civilization may be headed for collapse. Several of my friends and I are reading things like “The Dark Mountain Manifesto,” which predicts that civilization will “die from civilization” and calls for “new stories” to guide us away from collapse. Daniel Quinn, who years ago wrote “Ishmael” and “Beyond Civilization,” among other books, blames overpopulation and the “stories” that drive our civilization. He suggests that in order to survive we will have to adopt tribalism – something he says is already happening in ghettos and among so-called minority populations. Dimitry Orlov, a Russian who studied the collapse of the Soviet Union and has drawn parallels with the current situation in the US, suggests stocking up not with gold, but chrome steel pipes to make bicycles.
I find myself always angry, sometimes fearful, but seldom optimistic when I read the news. I read many news sources from many places including The New York Times, Aljazeera (Qatar), occasionally Al Arabia (Saudi Arabia), Associated Press, National Public Radio, The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian (United Kingdom), Reuters (Canadian), occasionally Sputnik and RT (two Russian news sources) and others. I often skim articles in the Google news feed, and usually read several of them. I am trying to separate fact from speculation. I have learned that the first 30%-50% of most articles, even in the most stately of news sources, is factual reporting and the remainder of the articles is speculation and commentary disguised as news and designed to fill space. I also find it interesting to see the difference in how these sources treat the same story.
I believe that Russian Internet Trolls and others are using social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, as well as some I’ve heard of but never used, to draw people to web sites to read what is truly fake news. I believe there is enough information to accept the suggestion that Robert Mercer and a tiny group of rich mega-donors have virtual control of all major elections. We don’t need the Russians to hack our voting rolls or voting machines. We have been turned into a nation of sheep who gladly follow a rightist or leftist bellwether. (By the way, a bellwether is a castrated sheep.) I know social media companies analyze their users, learn their likes and dislikes, and use that to direct advertisements, links, etc. to draw their users to spend more time on the site (earning more advertising money for the company).
I don’t want the social media companies, the Russians, or Robert Mercer and his ilk telling me what I need to see. Therefore, I no longer use Facebook or Twitter, and have not signed up for any other social media sites.
I do use the Google search engine – often. Google probably has a hard time figuring out what I like and dislike, since my searches are all over the map. After all, I’m currently writing two science fiction books, and just finished a book that dealt with cremation, autopsies, and organ transplants on and around the Navajo reservation. Still, I know that some ads I see are targeted to me because of my past behavior. For example, I once spent a couple of hours researching wheelchairs for a friend. For about a month afterwards, most of the news sources had at least one ad for wheelchairs. So far, however, no one has tried to sell me a cremation oven.
EnergyBulletin.net :: Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse
Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media. The Guardian, 26 February 2017
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.