Peak Oil vs Peak Water

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eboroian's picture
eboroian
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 19 2011
Posts: 1
Peak Oil vs Peak Water

Hello,

After reading Chris' excellent book, I find myself wondering which is more worrisome in the future: the scarcity of oil or the scarcity of water. I would love to hear people's thoughts on this, and why.

Thanks

eboro

Algie's picture
Algie
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 5 2011
Posts: 26
We lived without our little

We lived without our little oil slaves for 1000's of years.  Life won't be the same without them, but we'll survive in some form.

Water on the other hand is absolutely essential to life.  Look where it is in the survival rule of 3's...

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food
  • 3 months without hope

No mention of oil in that list, although many might think it is covered by the last one

 

Ready's picture
Ready
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 30 2008
Posts: 917
Algie,Great name BTWWhat

Algie,

Great name BTW

What if the water purification plant relies on plastics and pumps and energy which is dependant on oil?

Some thoughts -

You can pick up and move to where the water is. The biggest issue with Peak Water is that people choose to live in places that have too little. Think Las Vegas.

The earth is 2/3 covered by water. Energy provides drinking water, whether it be the sun that causes the rain, or the desalinization plant input of oil.

Water is not going anywhere. We use it over and over and over. The molecule that you injested this morning has been around for millenia. Oil, on the other hand, is being converted into an unusable form of molecules and lower energy states as we burn it.

Water is an urgent need, low on Maslow's pyramid. We must have it, therefore we will. Since it is all around us, we will find the best way to get it. It will take precidence over other items when the time comes and will sort itself out. You may have to move, drill a well, capture it from the air, or convert it from seawater, but we will find a way. The problem is that most of the solutions require oil to implement.

 

But maybe I am just jaded since I live near the Mississippi, and we are certainly experinecing peak muddy water right now!

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
It's Peak Everything..

I wouldn't isolate water from oil or vice versa......  the really scary part of the looming crisis is that it is a PERFECT STORM....  everything is coming to a head all at once.  And there are no solutions, only adaptations.

Mike

Doug's picture
Doug
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Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3125
water
Quote:

Water is an urgent need, low on Maslow's pyramid. We must have it, therefore we will. Since it is all around us, we will find the best way to get it. It will take precidence over other items when the time comes and will sort itself out. You may have to move, drill a well, capture it from the air, or convert it from seawater, but we will find a way. The problem is that most of the solutions require oil to implement.

To (probably mis)quote Mark Twain:  "Whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting"

A little under the surface where the MSM doesn't go, there have been preparations underway for decades to prevent diversions of the Great Lakes water to thirstier parts of the US.  The Great Lakes contain 20% of the world's surface fresh water and there are plans on drawing boards of how to get it to the Great Plains and Southwest, and to take it away on tanker ships.  The eight Great Lakes states and two provinces have banded together to prevent that from happening.

http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/3257

So far in the US we've been lucky.  We've managed to have enough fresh water to do what we've needed to do.  But, major water sources like the Ogalalla Acquifer and the Colorado River are running up against hard limits.  We really cannot wring any more water out of the Colorado River as it is currently reduced to a relative trickle when it crosses the border into Mexico.  The Ogalalla is losing water at a precipitous rate, and it isn't renewable in time scales that are useful to us.  The semi-arid and arid regions of the west will have to seriously rethink how they use water if their urban centers and agriculture are to survive in the not too distant future.

Doug

mitigator's picture
mitigator
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Joined: May 28 2011
Posts: 3
You MIGHT be able to move to where the water is

What with "smart growth" and NIMBY, regions with water can be expected to erect barriers in order to restrict the number of outsiders who can move into the area.

Will parched regions look to Washington for help?  Will there be water wars?

tictac1's picture
tictac1
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 25 2009
Posts: 175
Smart Growth an oxymoron

I live in one of those "smart growth" areas, and it's anything but.  We have known that we are drawing down our aquifer faster than it can be replenished for over 10 years.  Last year, we saw multiple wells (300-400 ft deep) go dry, the drillers said it was unlike anything they'd seen.

And yet...

County continues to approve permits for golf courses (STUPID use of water), vineyards, more homes, etc. while at the same time acknowledging they have no solution for the impending water shortage.  The vineyards and golf courses have the money to drill far below anyone else, and pay the higher rate to bring the water up from 1200 feet, so the impact to them is minimal.  The rural land owners, on the other hand, cannot afford $50K wells and the 10 HP motors to pump them.  Guess who loses?  This too, is in favor of the wealthy land owners, since property values will drop substantially if water becomes unreachable for residents.  Easier to buy more acreage for those golf courses.

It's simple math really.  If you are drawing down your aquifer, you have hit a physical limit on growth.  But the potential tax dollars blind our supervisors to this simple fact.  Of course, the same board will increase our fees for everything, and regulate the snot out of its citizenry, just not the big money interests.

Roundhouse's picture
Roundhouse
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 14 2008
Posts: 36
water and such

Will parched regions look to Washington for help?  Will there be water wars?

At last check, Washington cannot make the water tables rise though there's enough hot air to.... well, you get my meaning.  As for water wars, they are already starting here in Washington state.  As the shallow wells run dry, the farmers turn to 'who was first' and it goes the same for irrigation rights.  Some farms have already had to close because of the lack of water.  It will only get worse.  The aquifer they are all pulling out of takes hundreds of years to replenish under normal conditions so I see no happy endings there.

In one town nearby, NO new well permits are allowed (however) a huge development nearby went bust and will sell you one of their water/well drilling permits for a huge sum of money.  Suffice it to say that new home building is at zero.  The local lumber yard just closed and I hear the Home Depot is considering doing the same.  What other choice to they have?  So far, I have not heard of anyone getting around the drilling ban (no new golf courses or vineyards).   Signs of things to come.

 

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