"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”" ~~~~Samuel P. Huntington

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's Different, But Not A Lot, In The 21st Century - 'Owens Valley Water Wars' Redux

(Click thumbnails for source articles)
Owens Lake
For those unfamiliar, the Owens Valley outside of Los Angeles was stripped of it water early in the 20th century by covert means and overt political power plays. Marc Reisner's excellent book Cadillac Desert(short wikipedia entry) covers this travesty in excruciating detail and PBS had done a series of specials(wikipedia) based on the book. That series is no longer available (I HAVE written PBS' ombudsman regarding that but expect no reply.)

(I've discovered that Archive.org has PBS' very informative web pages, but NOT the video)

Cadillac Desert is a history of how the West got it's water, is still out there and is well worth reading. If you ever wanted to know where that hardboiled L.A. Private Detectve image developed...The Los Angeles water companies actually hired dozens of them to act as a mercenary army, harassing the residents and water-bearing property owners of the Valley.

The response was severe:
Chinatown Poster"Owens Valley farmers watched decades of labor and their livelihoods literally whither away resisted violently by dynamiting the aqueduct (for decades) that carried away their water 230 miles away to LA. In response, (William) Mulholland (Ed. the villian in this story with an engineer named Fred Eaton his 'Judas', although the glorification of the Mulholland name all over Southern California is testament to... something...) is reported as saying that he “half-regretted the demise of so many of the valley’s orchard trees, because now there were no longer enough trees to hang all the troublemakers who live there.” (click the image for the source)

For movie buffs, the events in Owens Valley were immortalized in the movie "Chinatown" starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

Go to any good book store and Cadillac Desert WILL be on the shelves. There is an audiobook torrent (monotone... not much fun to listen to) available from the usual torrent suspects online.

There's also a 2006 KNX Los Angeles special called: Water Wars! The Battle For Owens Valley (KNX investigative reporter Michael Linder takes you to the Owens Valley where water wars have been raging for century.) which points out that the draining of those water resources nearly a century ago has an effect on the residents of the region to this very day with toxic dust causing respiratory disease and cancer.
H/T: owensvalleyhistory.com

Owens InfrastructureThe history in that book is coming to the fore again as Californians see the disinformational headlines in the papers such as "Feds Cutting Off Central Valley Water"(San Jose Mercury-News about a year ago) when in actuality, the federal water subsidies that allowed the stripping of all the water from the Colorado Basin Aquifer and further, also facilitated the supplying of water to California farmers and cities at ten cents on the dollar were due to expire at the turn of the 21st century and most likely won't be renewed no matter what Senator Diane Feinstein, D-CA says).

Here's a basic search on the Owens Valley Water Wars

Wikipedia's entries will suffice as a basic reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Water_Wars

Also see this reprint of a Smithsonian article @ Mindfully Yours:
California Scheming, MARK WHEELER / Smithsonian v.33, n.7, Oct02

If you REALLY want to get historic: Owens Valley Water Wars Reference File and Correspondence from the personal file of Senator, Joseph E. Riley, 1924-1938. MANUSCRIPT BOX 1883 California Rare Bk Collection location Offline. Contact California State Library No online items

Some 'elective' studies follow.

Here's a Worldwatch Institute article from 1997 about the already-at-that-time looming GLOBAL water crisis: Governments Failing to Protect Societies from Spreading Water Scarcity

More recently (March 2010 Grist via Alternet): Why Availability of Freshwater Is a Huge Factor in the 'War on Terror'

Despite "American Exceptionalism" and all that, buying water and transporting it is a VERY expensive proposition. Making war for water, an age old reason for regional wars and local conflicts, more likely to become a global 'solution' as water rapidly become a necessary 'extractive resource' for the West, except it's also a resource that the people of the area it's 'extracted' from also need... often for their very survival. The word is "BlowBack". If you don't know what that word means, click the link.

But, not meaning to deceive with my ramblings on, that's NOT what this "Owens Valley War" is going to be about.

In many converstions over the last few years I have made a statement to this effect
Decentralization of American society is the only way to survive the end of the oil age.

We used to have a "Wave Ram" in Santa Cruz California at the turn of the 20th century. It used ocean wave motion to turn a generator.

Now you could do that with specialized low frequency transducers like the ones factories mount on their metal milling machinery to computer monitor the machine's cutter wear and embed those simple low frequency condenser microphones into Mylar mats and float them on the Monterey Bay.

But if you cover the WHOLE bay to supply power a population of a millions, you'll have no more fish, or sea birds, and the change of water temperature would surely cause massive algae growths and weather change.... and those are just the first issues that pop into my mind.

There are already existent devices acting as latter day wave rams, but again... an array (for want of a better term) of this thing... or that... will NOT be impactless on the environment when scaled to the needs of a major metropolitan area anywhere on the planet.

Wind Farm - Palm Springs

Ugly Wind Turbines Ugly LifestyleSure, you can power a city with wind turbines, (which even energy hypocrites think unsightly) if you don't care that some hilly region down the road has no more birds and the residents nearby suffer the unknown consequences of long term exposure to subsonic sound radiation. Not to mention the HUGE increase in truck traffic and ancillary development in the area just to repair and maintain these high tech pieces of modern machinery
Wind Farm

Of COURSE you can power a city by covering the deserts in solar panels if you don't take the collateral ecological damage to the incredibly damaged and fragile near-desert-by-theft environment into account...

L.A.'s New Scheme to Plunder Owens Valley Water, This Time with Solar Panels

March 2, 2010

The city of Los Angeles recently announced plans to transform Owens Valley into one of the largest sources of solar power in America, outfitting the region with a massive energy farm that would span 80 square miles and generate up to 10 percent of California's total electricity output...

In Full @ Alternet

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