Sunday, June 3, 2012


Yesterday it rained all day, and I went a little stir crazy. Would have been a good time to do a post, actually, not sure why I waited till now.

Anyway, I shouldn't complain. It was a timely rain -- a couple of recent storms have mostly missed us to the north and west. We're lucky to have plenty of water here. None of the local corn fields are irrigated, but I have never known the crop to fail.

One of humanity's many great follies has been to establish vast agricultural regimes in arid places, fed by "fossil water." That's water trapped deep underground since ancient times, which is not being replenished, or replenishes very slowly. A recent study, in fact, <a href="">claimed that 42% of the rise in sea level since the beginning of the last century resulted from people pumping out fossil water</a>, which of course eventually makes its way to the sea. This seemed incredible to most experts, and the linked post largely debunks it. Still, the only reason it's maybe bunk is because we partly counteract the effect by trapping a lot of water in reservoirs.

I speak of folly because, obviously, you can't keep doing this forever. <a href="">Twenty seven percent of the irrigated farmland in the U.S. depends on the Ogallala Aquifer</a>, which at the present rate, will be pumped dry in about 25 years, according to best estimates. And then what happens to Kansas? According to most Kansans, God put that water there 6,000 years ago, and now in a couple of hundred years, it's gone. Scientists think it's been there since at least before the last glaciation, in other words more than 20,000 years and probably longer. Either way, it's folly.

1 comment:

  1. the salinas valley aquifer is being over pumped for agriculture. it is replenished by salt water from monterey bay. a bit more technically seawater intrusion in wells is moving inland from the bay.