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Ask Dr  Rich 
Rich Simons | Upper East 11th Street

Q: Isn’t it getting kind of scary? I mean – they say we are in a drought that has gone on for 5 years now and will go on longer with no end in sight. Our lakes are going dry and we are being asked to cut back drastically on our water useage. Do you have any ideas about how we should deal with this?- d.c.

Yes. Conceptually, anyway. The details will have to be ironed out by the scientists and politicians. I think what we ought to do here is to take a leaf (so to speak) from the playbook of the Great State of Oklahoma. Here’s the deal – we need rain like they need oil. Why do they need all that oil? Because (according to an article in the April 13 edition of The New Yorker magazine) “one in every five jobs in Oklahoma is directly or indirectly related to the oil and gas industry.” Then there is the income to the State and the oil magnates that fund most civic projects.
So how do the Okies keep that oil pumping? Why by prostituting their environment, that’s how. They allow practices like disposal wells and fracking, which foul their water supplies and create earthquakes large enough to knock down their houses (see same article).

The question is: can we Californians apply the Oklahoma model to get what we need: rain? Note that we have historically had lots and lots of earthquakes here but to my knowledge they have not yet produced a drop of water. (Sidebar: there used to be an old saying that when it rained that was “earthquake weather.”) But I digress. Face it: when it comes to having some environment to prostitute we certainly have it all over them Okies. We have our sparkling ocean and our pristine beaches. We have our massive forests and our snow-capped mountains. Our strikingly beautiful desert and a valley so fertile it is known as “the nation’s breadbasket.”

We just have to figure out what we want to sell to get a little water, and how to do it. The idea of trading the Anza-Borrego desert for some rain has a certain quirky symmetry to it, but I don’t quite see how that would work. As for our snow-capped mountains, many would argue that we have already pretty much milked that one dry (literally). And it makes no sense to sacrifice the Central Valley and our lakes and rivers because they are a large part of WHY we need the water (according to the U-T, agriculture and what they call the “environment” combined soak up over 50% of our total water supply).

I guess that pretty much leaves us with just our ocean and our beaches as the environmental items that we have available to prostitute. I really don’t see how screwing up one or both of them is going to produce any rain, but if our scientists can’t figure out how to screw things up, I’m sure our politicians can!


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