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Water Shortage Could Lead To Food Shortage

My favorite liberal magazine, The Rolling Stone, has an article titled Ethanol Scam: Ethanol Hurts the Environment And Is One of America’s Biggest Political Boondoggles. Nothing new there. You’ve read the same at Mover Mike, here, and here.

What caught my attention was the piece in the article in which several other technologies are included in the topic, Dumber Than Ethanol:

Liquid Coal – not only is the cost of one plant that produces 156,000 barrels of diesel per day, $7 Billion, but it would consume four barrels of water per barrel of diesel.

Tar Sands – about 1 Million barrels of oil per day are produced from tar sands, but recovering that oil consumes 5 barrels of water per barrel.

Oil Shale – a ton of shale is considered rich if squeezing it delivers 30 gallons of oil. It is so costly and polluting that we’ve spent over $10 Billion and get only .0001 percent of our energy needs from this source.

My emphasis on water is based on an article at Earth Policy Institute warning of water shortages. Consider, We are over pumping our aquifiers in each of the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing reports that Chinese wheat farmers in some areas are now pumping from a depth of 300 meters, or nearly 1,000 feet. Pumping water from this far down raises pumping costs so high that farmers are often forced to abandon irrigation and return to less productive dryland farming. A World Bank study indicates that China is overpumping three river basins in the north—the Hai, which flows through Beijing and Tianjin; the Yellow; and the Huai, the next river south of the Yellow. Since it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain, the shortfall in the Hai basin of nearly 40 billion tons of water per year (1 ton equals 1 cubic meter) means that when the aquifer is depleted, the grain harvest will drop by 40 million tons—enough to feed 120 million Chinese.In India, water shortages are particularly serious simply because the margin between actual food consumption and survival is so precarious. In a survey of India’s water situation, Fred Pearce reported in New Scientist that the 21 million wells drilled are lowering water tables in most of the country. In North Gujarat, the water table is falling by 6 meters (20 feet) per year. In Tamil Nadu, a state with more than 62 million people in southern India, wells are going dry almost everywhere and falling water tables have dried up 95 percent of the wells owned by small farmers, reducing the irrigated area in the state by half over the last decade.


In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas—three leading grain-producing states—the underground water table has dropped by more than 30 meters (100 feet). As a result, wells have gone dry on thousands of farms in the southern Great Plains. Although this mining of underground water is taking a toll on U.S. grain production, irrigated land accounts for only one fifth of the U.S. grain harvest, compared with close to three fifths of the harvest in India and four fifths in China.

And it’s happening in Pakistan, Baluchistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel, and Mexico.

The water shortage and the resulting food shortage may make the energy shortage seem like a zit an elephant’s ass.

Water Shortages

Another One Bites The Dust

American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. (AHM) warned of troubles in their mortgage portfolio on Friday. It did not trade on Monday. Tuesday it opened at the market close at $1.04 down from $10.47 and down from over $30 in January.

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Bose George said American Home Mortgage will probably go bankrupt, or at least be restructured into something leaving very little value for shareholders.”The chances are low,” he said of the company’s prospects for survival.


American Home Mortgage specializes in adjustable-rate mortgages, which carry interest rates that reset according to certain benchmark interest rates. This type of debt has hamstrung a lot of borrowers in the past year because interest rates have jumped.

The company also lends to so-called Alt-A borrowers, or borrowers that cannot document their income.

Bill Murphy at LeMetropole Cafe writes that Barclays, UBS, Bear Stearns Cos. and Bank of America Corp. may be on the hook for a total of $9.7 Billion loaned to AHM.

In related news the WSJ reports that Bear Sterns has lost two funds, now has a third fund in trouble with roughly $900 million in mortgage investments.

The NY Times reports that Sowood Capital has shut it’s doors. At one time the hedge fund, run by a money manager who hailed from the team that built Harvard’s endowment into the $30 billion giant that it is today, carried positions valued at $12 to $15 Billion.

Yesterday, Sowood sent out a letter to investors indicating that heavy losses in the credit market had caused the fund to lose more than half its value, prompting it to sell its portfolio to another hedge fund and return the remaining $1.5 billion to investors.

Meanwhile, the market dropped over 146 points after being up more than 80! OIl closed at a new all time high, above $78 per barrel.


Small Maupin Quake

map 1.3 2007/07/30 21:59:49 45.121N 120.919W 18.4 14 km ( 9 mi) ESE of Maupin, OR


Libs On The Run???

Most days I feel like I’m just writing down thoughts that are whipped away in the daily wind of stimuli. Then out of nowhere appears an editorial in the NY Times written by two liberals that says the surge is working! That editorial is followed by two columns by David Ignatias in the Washington Post. The first acknowledges a simple truth:

While the U.S. diplomat (Ryan Crocker) delivered his stern warning against Iranian meddling in Iraq, (Hassan Kazemi) Qomi, (Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad) must have wondered: Why should I listen to this guy? Congress is going to start pulling U.S. troops out soon, no matter what he says. (My emphasis)

The second column appears today in the Washington Post. Ignatias relying on the NIE of July 17th asks a very good question:

Al-Qaeda has “regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability” using a new safe haven in the lawless frontier area of northwest Pakistan known as Waziristan.The question is: What is the United States going to do about it?(My emphasis)

Great question!

To top it off The Oregonian in an editorial questions Mayor Tom Potter. He wants to set up a covered facility, sort of a union hall, for illegal aliens who now stand on MLK and hire on as day laborers. Potter wants to use tax payer funds to aid and abet law breakers.

Potter hopes to have at least a temporary center open by year’s end. That would bring Portland into line with scores of other U.S. cities that have crossed this ridiculous Rubicon. It may be popular, it may be pragmatic, it still isn’t good public policy.And it still isn’t right. (My emphasis)

Whoa Nelly! So many libs seeing it my way. What’s next, the LA Times declaring George Bush the most courageous president since FDR?

David Ignatias
Mayor Tom Potter


Daniel’s Political Musings has some further thoughts on Mayor Potter’s labor site.

No Question, There is No Weighing!

Washington Post columnist Peter W. Rodman posits that President President Bush is weighing the high strategic stakes in the Middle East and the high political stakes at home with a decision whether to disengage in Iraq against his better judgment and that of his commanders.

I don’t believe Bush is considering this choice. I don’t believe he is wavering at all. I believe he is firmly committed to this course, guided by his internal moral compass. He has not forgotten the stakes that are involved and knows fully the consequences if we cut and run. Rodman tells what will happen:

Potentially the most destabilizing new factor in the world in the coming period is the fear of American weakness. All the hyperventilation about American hubris and unilateralism is a tired cliche; it never had much validity anyway. The real problem is that the pressures pushing us to accept defeat in Iraq are already profoundly unnerving to allies in the Middle East, and elsewhere, who rely on the United States to help ensure their security in the face of continuing dangers. If we let ourselves be driven out of Iraq, what the world will seek most from the next president will not be some great demonstration of humility and self-abasement — that is, to be the “un-Bush” — but rather for reassurance that the United States is still strong, capable of acting decisively and committed to the security of its friends. Given our domestic debate, to provide this reassurance will be an uphill battle in the best of circumstances. It will be even more difficult if President Bush succumbs to all the pressures on him to do the wrong thing in Iraq.

It would be so easy for Bush to wilt like his Dad. Remember “Read My Lips, No New Taxes!” Let us thank God that there is this man who is acting like a grown up. It will be so much harder to ever defend our interests if we turn tail on this one.

Peter W. Rodman

David Ignatias Writes On Iraq

I don’t often agree with David Ignatias, columnist for the Washington Post. Today is an exception. He writes:

Try to imagine what was running through the mind of Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, as he sat across the negotiating table from his American counterpart, Ryan Crocker, last week.While the U.S. diplomat delivered his stern warning against Iranian meddling in Iraq, Qomi must have wondered: Why should I listen to this guy? Congress is going to start pulling U.S. troops out soon, no matter what he says. (My emphsis)

That’s the heart of the problem, as I see the anti-war movement in this country. Both sides voted approval to back up the UN Iraq Resolutions with force. I won’t argue with the characterization that the war was mishandled. Bush tried to fight the war on the cheap. However, once committed, once our military starts dying, we owe it to them and our future credibility to fight to win, otherwise any enemy will say, “If we just hold on long enough, America will get tired and leave and we can have our way. If they bleed, they will leave.”

The anti-war movement should make the distinction between fighting to keep us out of war and providing “aid and comfort” to the enemy once in. I think it’s disgraceful to use our young and then cut and run with nothing to show for it except crosses.

One could argue that we should never go to war, never send troops anywhere in the world…unless we ruthlessly, overwhelmingly enforce our will.

David Ignatias


Mt. Popocatépetl Erupts

Vinny1 just reported that Mt. Popocatépetl in Mexico has erupted and posted this picture taken from a live webcam:

Mt. Popocatépetl


2.0 Near Maupin

map 2.0 2007/07/28 15:08:09 45.111N 120.944W 20.7 13 km ( 8 mi) ESE of Maupin, OR



Two more small ones near Maupin on Saturday:

map 1.3 2007/07/28 21:04:08 45.123N 120.925W 16.3 14 km ( 8 mi) ESE of Maupin, OR

map 1.1 2007/07/28 19:34:33 45.136N 120.929W 16.4 13 km ( 8 mi) ESE of Maupin, OR

The Sky Is Falling In Iowa!

On a cloud free day in Dubuque, Iowa, large chunks of ice, one of them reportedly about 50 pounds, fell from the sky.

David Travis, a professor of geography and geology and an associate dean at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, has studied the phenomenon of large chunks of ice falling from a clear sky. He said it’s possible the ice could have been a megacryometeor — “similar to a hailstone, but without the thunderstorm.”


Search And Rescue In Oregon

As you may know, getting lost in Oregon can be hazardous to your health. Between 1997 and 2003, there have been 4,244 search and rescue operations, so I was happy to see the Trackstick.

Maybe, we should issue the Trackstick to tourists as they cross into our wild state.


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