Last Call at the Oasis
by Jessica Yu
We start the show off by taking a quick tour around the world and looking at a few key water bodies. The Aral Sea is now about one-tenth its original size. Australia is in a ten-year drought. The reservoir feeding Las Vegas is about forty percent full. The water level at Lake Mead has dropped as low as 1086 feet or lower, and the general trend is down. At 1050 feet, Hoover Dam stops generating power. That could happen in a few years. Water bodies that feed California’s Central Valley are at all-time lows. An almond farmer in that area was interviewed in the movie. He had to shut down his farm permanently due to lack of water. The central valley produces 25 percent of the food in the United States. You don’t need advanced math to sense a potential problem brewing.
In addition to an increasing scarcity of drinkable water, it is increasingly contaminated. We see some fun pictures of the Cuyahoga River catching fire in Cleveland but, in all fairness, that was in 1969, and it is much better now. However, we also see a video of someone setting tap water on fire. That was not in 1969 but very recently. I’ll leave it to those who doubt how much control industry has over government to explain how the gas, oil, and fracking industries have gotten themselves exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
It is becoming well-known that drugs are getting into the water supply of many major cities. Some may argue that they are not in high enough concentrations to have any effect but I doubt they have any studies to back that up. If high-powered drugs are getting into your water you may very well notice, although if it is something like Churchill Downer horse tranquilizers, you may not care. Yes, I’ve been watching “The Simpsons” again.
There is the usual controversy about who or what to blame—overuse, mismanagement, overpopulation, climate change, or George Bush. There are a number of solutions being considered. Many try to avoid contamination by using bottled water but that may be causing more problems than it solves. Labels lead one to believe the water is fresh from the mountains of some heavenly exotic place when a large percentage of it is just bottled tap water from no place special. Large corporations like Nestlé affix themselves to local aquifers like giant vampires and deplete the local water supply to resell it for more than the price of gas. Large islands of floating plastic accumulate in oceans.
I’m pretty sure efforts to sell recycled water under the label of “Porcelain Springs—the most peaceful place on Earth” is a joke, but the idea of selling recycled water is being seriously promoted. Obviously the yuck factor is a major obstacle. The movie does a good job of raising awareness and rates a thumbs UP.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2014