Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Water, Power, Exodus - Who'da Thunk?

To date, only my boy Dr. Lester Spence - scrying like Nostramdamus - has had the temerity and perspicacity to connect up these dots real proper like;
Atlanta is landlocked, while Detroit is connected to one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the face of the planet. As we move forward and the consequences of the water crisis becomes even more apparent, where would you rather be?

My late grandmother, an Independence Day Baby of 1920, moved to Detroit from Georgia(through NC) in the early thirties.
I predict a new wave sooner rather than later.
Today, somebody else picked up the meme and ran with it in a direction I had not fully appreciated until I saw it starting back at me from the screen. Taken verbatim from a phenomenal post at PeakOilBlues - Water Water NoWhere;
Now, we have a situation where large population centers are facing a very severe lack of water, the water level falling by the day. They no longer are measuring the time to extreme crisis in years, but in days. There are major cities in the Carolina’s looking at being out of water in under 60 days. There are states that are looking at imposing a usage cap on water, in other words, city abc has a cap of x gallons a day usage. When that cap is reached, the water is turned off, only available for fire fighting.

Well, you say, “I don’t live in the SE part of the US, what has this got to do with me and the energy crisis?” Did you turn on any lights today? Do you have a refrigerator keeping your food cold? Does your job depend on availability of electricity? Then you might want to pay attention. Unless you are a resident of Texas, which is not a part of the national power grid, all the rest of us are linked together in several interconnecting big power grids, often called the world’s largest machine. Guess what is the essential ingredient in all nuclear, coal fired, gas fired, oil fired, and hydro power plants? You guessed it! Water! For every kilowatt generated in a fossil fuelled power plant, .5 gallon of water is used. In a nuclear power plant that number is .62 gallon of water. I don’t know what the water usage in hydro plants is per kilowatt, but since that does not play a large role in the SE United States, I am not too concerned with it. Because peak loads all over the country are frequently handled by transferring power across the grid from areas not experiencing peak usage, a problem in the Carolinas with power generation shutting down from lack of water may show up in another location hundreds of miles away. Suddenly the drought problem in northern Georgia may become a problem for you, several states away, in a totally unexpected way. The same way a tree limb falling on high tension lines in Ohio several years ago was a problem all the way to the Atlantic in the NE. Suddenly your utility may find itself way down the peak production slope because the excess supply isn’t there, but the demand still remains. Companies in the drought areas will be faced with having to shut down because of lack of water for air conditioning chillers for electronic equipment, electricity usage being curtailed to preserve water for human consumption, and other side effects.

But what happens to major population centers such as Atlanta when the water becomes very hard to get, and very expensive? It is anybody’s guess at this point as to what people will do, but I can make a few educated guesses, based on what happened during the dust bowl era. We frequently hear of the just in time economy as it applies to retailing or manufacturing, but there is another piece of the just in time phenomenon that is frequently overlooked, it is the individual just in time income to survive. The other term we hear referring to it is the “living hand to mouth” syndrome. During the late 1920s and the 1930s, the average person fit that same description. For those involved in agriculture, if the crop didn’t come in that spring and summer, they were financially ruined. Those not involved in agriculture were also affected by the lack of business supported by the farmers and ranchers spending. Since one didn’t know how long a mega drought might last, their only recourse was to load up what ever belongings they could cram in their cars or trucks, pile everybody in, abandon everything else and head to where ever they heard a rumor of work being available (interestingly, where water was also abundant). It was called the largest voluntary mass relocation ever seen in the modern world at the time.
Interesting, interesting times indeed.....,