Resources. How and why are they allocated? Now that I live in a desert, water and water conservation issues are front and center. Over the past few weeks, the New York Times has mentioned the drought in California in several editions, with specific mentions to the Gordian knot that exists in regards to California water rights; desalination plants; and conservation plans. The woes of the Rio Grande were also highlighted in a front page story by Michael Wines. In his story, Mr. Wines mentions some farmers in El Paso who have rights to the final trickle of the Rio Grande. And indeed, on a recent trip to El Paso to visit a high school friend, I learned that my friend pays an annual fee for irrigation channels to be opened to flood and irrigate his yard and garden. Ringing his property is a shallow moat – which for most of the year serves as a dry depression in his lawn.
Even my hometown of Gillette, Wyoming faces challenges with water. In 2005, Gillette’s water customers consumed more water than the city’s water utility could produce. The temporary fix was an all-encompassing water conservation program followed by multiple water rate increases. The long-term fix was to build a second pipeline to ensure water to its customers which will be completed in late 2016. With a growth rate of 48% from 2000 to 2010 as the city boomed from a coal bed methane boom, building a second pipeline made sense, if only superficially. Nearly 80% of Gillette’s water during its peak irrigation season (May through September) comes from the Madison Aquifer located approximately forty miles to the northeast of Gillette via the appropriately named Madison Pipeline. The Madison Pipeline is a vital piece of infrastructure to Gillette and subsequently to the nation – as Gillette and Campbell County produce coal that provides America with 10% of its electricity.
And here is where the underlying problem with resources comes into play. While I would argue building a second pipeline is necessary for redundancy of the infrastructure, and the regional water service area that it serves will definitely grow in the next decade, most of this water is only needed for the peak irrigation season (e.g., watering lawns). In particular, watering non-native grasses. Make no mistake, my hometown will need a second pipeline, but sooner or later, the question needs to be: is watering non-native grass the best use of a dwindling resource?
The City of Tucson uses reclaimed water to water many of its parks, golf courses, and other facilities. This was done primarily out of necessity, but is recreational irrigation the best use of a dwindling natural resource?
Conservation programs have done wonders for domestic consumption, and most municipalities offer rebates for low flow toilets and showerheads, etc… What needs to be addressed is non-domestic consumption for irrigation and agriculture, and this needs to be a holistic approach. Just saying, “almonds are evil,” isn’t going to work. By the way, almonds are not evil…but they do use a helluva lot of water. The Department of Interior ranks water use very highly among its concerns. Unfortunately, any recommendation from a government entity will be highly politicized and debated ad nauseam.
At what point do we as a society recognize that the Earth’s resources are limited, and the conspicuous consumption that is rampant in America cannot be contained? We need to have this conversation now! Clean air and water need to be the priorities, but energy production and consumption, manufacturing and necessary raw materials, as well as our agricultural industries need to be factored into the mix. Or we can just stick our heads in the sand and hope it all works out.
Mother Earth simply will not accommodate unsustainable growth, and that is where we, as a nation, a planet, and a race, are headed. If you get a chance to ask a presidential candidate a question, I would make sure to ask about a comprehensive strategy for America’s natural resources. Until raw materials can be delivered via Fed Ex from another world, this is the only planet we’ve got, and there are too many “ants on the planet” for humans not to make a difference.
Four bands/musicians you need to be listening to, but didn’t know it:
Mutts Can I just say that I love this band and be done with it? No. There is so much to love about their rock and jazz infused tunes, and yes, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that lead singer, Mike Maimone, sounds a whole helluvalot like Tom Waits when he’s crooning. That’s not Mike’s fault. Here’s the first single (if there is such a thing anymore) of their latest album, “Fuel Yer Delusion Volume 4” titled “Everyone is Everyone”. This is not safe for work (NSFW), so you’ve been warned.
The Whiskey Charmers Carrie Shepard, the lead singer, and I both worked for the same production company in Los Angeles; albeit at different times – she was hired just after I left in 1998. Somehow fate intervened and we met 16 years later in Wyoming when I booked her band to perform at Gillette’s brewfest. Give this band, and their new album, a listen. Here’s “Neon Motel Room” from their self-titled album, “The Whiskey Charmers”.
Lily Virginia Somehow I stumbled across Lily Virginia on Twitter. Odd, right? Anyway, I was captivated by her vocals and her song, “Atlantic”. The lyrical repetition reminded me of standing on the beach and thinking about the person I love, with only the incoming waves as my company. Check it out:
Erisa Rei Another talented songwriter with a haunting voice and a passel of solid songs I fumbled into on Twitter. I don’t spend that much time on Twitter…really, I don’t. But when you find a songwriter like Erisa, it’s totally worth it. Here’s her song “Like Dominoes”.
Movie Reviews (Boiled Down)
Before these brief reviews begin, I need to give a shout out to The Loft Cinema in Tucson for just being there. Having spent the last fifteen years in the movie purgatory (Gillette, Wyoming), I have longed for real cinema. Thanks to The Loft Cinema, I have found it!
My rating system:
“See this movie!” I think that meaning is clear.
“Solid Film” A well-made, if not totally inspiring film
“Meh” Well-made movie in a genre that I may or may not care about.
“A Swing and a Miss” Movies that just don’t click, but are uniquely interesting
“Don’t Bother” Move along, there are better uses of your time…like doing your taxes.
“Wild Tales” – See this movie! Six vignettes that aren’t for the faint of heart but reveal life in all its glory.
“Red Army” – See this movie! Excellent documentary on Russian hockey and life behind the Iron Curtain.
“Furious 7” – Meh Okay, if you don’t believe in physics or the laws of gravity, see this movie.
“The Woman in Gold” – Solid Film This whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. Lead actors are very good though.
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” – See this movie! A Japanese woman thinks the movie “Fargo” is real and sets out to find the hidden loot. What more could you want in a movie?
“It Follows” – Meh To be fair, many people are raving about this movie. I found it to be lacking in anything but STD metaphors.
“The Wrecking Crew” – Solid Film Documentary about the sessions musicians who cut some of the music industry’s greatest hits and never got credit…until now.
“Giuseppe Makes a Movie” See this movie! To me, this film is the epitome of what documentary filmmaking is all about.
“What We Do in the Shadows” Meh Mockumentary about New Zealand vampires. If you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll enjoy it.
And that’s the truth and bs from Bushrod Sinclair. See y’all in two weeks. Although, I will start alternating the blog posts with visual poems every other week. I’ll post the youtube links here as well.