Running Out of Water

In the early 90’s I produced a 8 hour series for PBS called Cadillac Desert. We mostly focused on the coming water crisis in the Western United States, but we also looked at the coming water wars in many parts of the world. One we didn’t see coming was Southern Spain.

This year, farmers are fighting developers over water rights. They are fighting one another over who gets to water their crops. And in a sign of their mounting desperation, they are buying and selling water like gold on a rapidly growing black market, mostly from illegal wells.

Southern Spain has long been plagued by cyclical droughts, but the current crisis, scientists say, probably reflects a more permanent climate change brought on by global warming. And it is a harbinger of a new kind of conflict.

The battles of yesterday were fought over land, they warn. Those of the present center on oil. But those of the future — a future made hotter and drier by climate change in much of the world — seem likely to focus on water, they say.

Scientists in Europe now refer to the “Africanization” of Spain’s climate. But at least they are sounding the alarm, unlike the scientists under the control of the Bush Administration at NASA, who were told to shut up about global warming, according to a new report from the agency’s inspector general.

“Our investigation,” the report said, “found that during the fall of 2004 through early 2006, the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs managed the topic of climate change in a manner that reduced, marginalized or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public.”

As Bob Dole used to say–“Where’s the outrage?”

Maybe some of it could be funneled towards calling your Senator and supporting the Alternative Energy Bill. Especially if you are from Kentucky or Tennessee, where Mitch McConnell and Bob Corker are leading the opposition. Then of course there is old “Flat Earth” Jim Inhoffe from Oklahoma declaring, “any action should not raise the cost of gasoline or energy to American families.”

If ever proof was needed that the Republican Party is brain dead, these three characters will be exhibit A.

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0 Responses to Running Out of Water

  1. Hugo says:

    In my sublime estimation “Cadillac Desert” was a masterwork, Jon, and I’ve heard from Spaniards all my life how Southern California reminds them—as it must have done Father Serra—of their homeland. They’re figuring out alternative energy, as you know, and I reckon that they will, likewise, come to terms with water policy far sooner than we will do. And I’m saying this from drought-parched Georgia.

    Loudest kudos on “Cadillac Desert”. It should be broadcast in Spain immediately, and often.

  2. Rick Turner says:

    There is a worldwide move on the part of some large corporations…not based in the US…to monopolize water and water rights around the world. Water is the most basic of all human needs, so, of course, it makes a great commodity to which to own exclusive rights.

    We’ve got this going on up in the Santa Cruz Mountains right now in Felton where the locals are trying to buy the California-American Water Company which is owned by neither Californians nor Americans…

    Want to talk about being over a barrel?

  3. Marta Puigsegur says:

    Water scarcity is becoming a really big issue in Spain this spring. Being Spanish, I feel that the worst thing is happening is that people from different regions are fighting against the others, every time the government announces they will bring water from the north to the south (Murcia and Almeria).
    Even Catalonia is having its own issues; massive demonstrations have been taking place during the last couple of weeks to avoid the approval of the last Catalan Government law, which agrees to build a pipe to bring water from Tarragona to Barcelona. (Experts believe there will not be enough water in Barcelona to supply all the city’s population this summer). Hopefully, this week’s rainings will help to overcome the situation and avoid to cause a rift between the people from Barcelona and Tarragona. Let’s keep the fingers crossed.

  4. Hugo says:

    Oh God, Rick. I for one am almost desperately sorry to hear that. (And sincere condolences on the recent fire southeast of you; I understand that the Forest of Nicene Marks went up—not to mention the homes in the “WUI”. This did not pass without notice in the Southeastern United States.) A cartel on water is truly the ultimate nightmare. Last I heard, the gaming tribes were trying to buy out the French via the Denver-based Canadian masters of natural resources. But that was a few years ago, and I’d no idea since of a concerted effort to lock things up.

    Holy hell.

  5. Terry McCall says:

    Jesus. Have we no shame?

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