Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Make When They Can Take? Part 1

The people who work for Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) seem like good, decent people. So, what kind of mental control does society have over them – to persuade them to perpetrate the Rural Nevada water grab (essentially an environmental Holocaust)?

  • These are people who wouldn't think of setting wildfires in Rural Nevada. But they're willing to drain the water supply of tens of thousands of acres of pristine high desert – with obvious wildfire consequences.

  • They wouldn't think of shooting every last animal in these valleys. But they're willing to leave them dieing of thirst.

  • They wouldn't think of robbing people. But they're willing to take away whole valleys' water supplies by exploiting the regulations and administrators of our government.

  • They wouldn't kill someone for their body parts – even if it were to save others. But they're quite willing to buy coal-fired power (which will pollute the air) and create massive dust bowls (resulting in even more air pollution). With all of these pollutants in the air, inevitably, people will die – so that Southern Nevada can continue to grow – unsustainably.

The hypocrisy of these actions may seem quite apparent to outsiders. But employees of SNWA are somehow able to rationalize excuses for these despicable acts. Something has taken over the judgment of these good people. I suspect that something is fear... fear of losing “everything.”

American corporate capitalism has left many in fear of losing their jobs, their health care, their homes, and even their loved ones. It could be argued that America has become a Nation of wage slaves. Maybe, but wait a minute. SNWA is a “quasi-municipality.” SNWA employees have secure, quasi-socialist careers. Is it that the employees of SNWA fear being thrown into the uncaring jaws of American capitalism? I think so. I'm no psychologist, but I believe I can relate to the job loss fear. They must feel a sense of dread at the prospect of having to find new jobs in today's market. That likely makes them desperate to hold onto the jobs they have. But just how desperate? Could their self esteem be driven so low that they would willing to think as they are told? Just what would it psychologically take to get them to participate in the biggest environmental disaster (effectively the biggest mass killing) in Nevada history?

We can learn something about why people are capable of mass killing from the Nazi Holocaust. The officers and enlisted men directly responsible believed they were “only carrying out orders.” They felt they “had no other choice.” Some rationalized that the “ends justify the means.” Many believed the Nazi propaganda. Apparently, they felt that to get by, they had to do whatever they were ordered to. The excuses of Nazi Fascists can be explained psychologically in rather simple terms. When people are afraid, and feel powerless to do the right thing, they'll do what they're told. All it takes to instill that kind of fear and obedience is for a few “examples” to be made of dissenters.

The acting head of SNWA, Pat Mulroy, once tried to limit growth in the Las Vegas area. Due to that act of independent thinking that bordered on insubordination, Ms. Mulroy almost lost her job. The ramifications of what happened to her must have reverberated throughout SNWA. If she could be fired for trying to do the right thing, no one was safe. Evidently, just saying that Las Vegas should limit it's growth at SNWA is a dismissable offense. Evidently, just saying that SNWA should desalinate ocean water, could keep one from getting a promotion. Evidently, just saying that Southern Nevada could conserve their way out of this situation, could get one reassigned to a dead end job.

When the truth can't be told in an organization, you cannot expect those within that organization to make rational decisions. When the only acceptable reality is a delusion, people will either believe it or pretend to. If management claims that California controls the flow of water at Hoover Dam, it has to be accepted as the truth. If management claims that SNWA will monitor the environmental conditions of Rural Nevada, it has to be accepted as truth that SNWA will not harm Rural Nevada. If management claims that there are no other options, there must be no other options.

It has been said; “Where you stand on a subject depends upon where you sit.” The employees of SNWA have cushy, well paid jobs – with benefits. That's rare these days. With corporate control of so many companies; downsizing, multi-tasking, and reduced benefits are the norm. The employees of SNWA know where they stand. They're being paid well to believe what they are told. This is not an uncommon situation. When given the choice between a paycheck and the truth, most people will abandon the truth.

When the truth can't be told within an organization, you can't possibly expect the truth to be told to outsiders. We simply cant trust them. We simply cannot believe their version of reality without very close scrutiny. We need to ask some tough questions. And we cannot just passively accept lame answers. Our future, and the future of the West is at stake.

Why Make When They Can Take? Part 2

Here are some questions that we should ask (and keep asking):

  1. There is simply no physical way that SNWA could take massive amounts of water from the high deserts of Rural Nevada without causing devastating harm. So, why would SNWA even bother to claim to care about the environment?

  2. SNWA has spent massive amounts of money trying to convince Las Vegans that the water grab is a good idea. I've heard rumors they've spent close to a Billion dollars on PR. Couldn't that money have been spent on something more productive?

  3. If all that money spent on advertising had been spent on desalination plants, there would soon be more water available for both Nevada and California. If all SNWA wanted to do was inform the public, they could have done that on the evening news for free. Why is it so important to manipulate Las Vegas water customers?

  4. There is enough water flowing in the Colorado River to meet Las Vegas' present needs – no matter how low Lake Mead gets. So why is SNWA trying to imply that Las Vegas could run out of water by pointing to Lake Mead levels?

  5. Why are both Lakes Powell and Mead so low, while all of the lakes below them are full? Why have the river flow rates further South been so high? Has SNWA decided to store Lake Mead and Powell water near the Mexican border? If so, why? Are they trying to scare residents of Las Vegas by drawing down Lake Mead?

  6. For now, SNWA claims that its cheaper to take water from Rural Nevada than make fresh water from sea water, and trade that water for a bigger allotment of the Colorado River. Why are costs more important than doing the right thing? Or is it the profits vs. trades (take vs. make) decisions that are driving SNWA executives?

  7. The price of desalination keeps coming down. And the price of the pipeline keeps going up. Maybe Southern Nevada can hold off until its cheaper to desalinate. Why hasn't someone from SNWA estimated when the costs will be comparable?

  8. Desalination can be accomplished in small steps – as needed. The pipeline has to be built completely, requiring a huge up-front commitment. What if Southern Nevada doesn't grow as expected? What if the predicted water isn't there? The pipeline requires a huge risk that desalination doesn't require. Why take the risk?

  9. Offshore desalination, utilizing wave power, can be accomplished with minimal environmental impact. Las Vegas can do this cheaper than California – because Vegas already has the infrastructure to recycle the water it could exchange for water they desalinate in California. Why is the environment a lower priority than cost, when we all know that the cost of extraction is just a fraction of the true costs?

  10. There is no accurate price quote for the pipeline. Some SNWA reps are still using a two decade old price tag of 2 billion dollars. However, independent estimates have ranged as high as 20 billion dollars. How can we possibly make reasonable decisions when we really don't know the true costs?

  11. If more water is available, that water will likely be cheaper to customers. So, why not desalinate, and make more fresh water? Could some water companies want there to be a shortage of water?

  12. There is a potential here for multi-billion dollar profits from the water grab. How can we know that privatization is not in the pipeline's future?

  13. SNWA receives a substantial sum of money for every new house that is built. How can we expect SNWA to make unbiased decisions when their bottom line relies upon growth?

  14. Most of the people who live in Southern Nevada are very unhappy with how Las Vegas has grown out of control. Deadly traffic conditions are the most visible sign of growth without reasonable development of infrastructure. If most people in Las Vegas don't like how Las Vegas is growing, why are politicians so pro-growth? Who really controls Las Vegas, Southern Nevada, and Nevada politics? If it isn't the people, could it be an alliance of construction companies, land speculators, and corporations dependent upon growth? Many of these companies, speculators, and corporations don't actually reside in Southern Nevada. Do outsiders have more control over Nevada politics than the people who live here?

  15. Do those people who have the most control over the fate of Nevada care more about short term profits than the long term well-being of our State?

  16. The water grab is the next step in making Rural Nevada the Nation's toxic waste dump. Does Las Vegas really want that? Of course not. What do we really want? These are our communities. This is our State. This is our future. What do we want Nevada to be like in 10, 20, or 50 years? Let's make that happen.

Why Make When They Can Take? Part 3

Las Vegas' population has doubled every 10 years for the past 50 years. It is inevitable that eventually this kind of growth is going to have to stop. We can plan for it, or we can wait for the day when true sustainability is impossible – and the system eventually collapses. But don't expect SNWA to be our champions. Nevadans will have to lead in this charge.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against growth in Southern Nevada. I'm against uncontrolled, unmanageable, unsustainable growth solely for the profit of a few. And I am definitely against growth in the cheapest way possible to maximize those profits for that few – at the expense of others, the environment, and the future.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What is it going to take?

CBS's 60 Minutes has reported; "It appears we're living in a new age of mega-fires -- forest infernos ten times bigger than the fires we're used to seeing."

There is a reasonable chance we could lose half (that's right HALF) of our forests in the West!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Good News

  1. Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on Global warming.

  2. Power companies have committed to thermal Solar Power (which will provide baseline power) in the Southwest.

  3. After 40 years of polluting, a number of coal-fired power plants in the Eastern US finally have to clean up their act.

  4. The EPA claims it will develop rules for carbon sequestration next year.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Revolution Was A Farce

We've had almost 30 years to learn what the Reagan “revolution” really meant to America. I'm sad to report that we've been cheated. Not all of us, of course... As was once said; “If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always get the support of Paul.” In case you haven't figured it out yet; “Paul” is big business.

We are now realizing what Reagan omitted when he said “Government is the problem.” What he purposely left out was “Government is the problem...” to his big financial backers – not us. After almost 30 years; we, the public, still have just as much big Government as ever. Obviously, Reagan didn't care about that. He just wanted our support for his agenda. I believed him for a while – until things got worse instead of better. In case you don't remember, what Reagan didn't clearly say is; what he intended the solution to be. Well, surprise... surprise. We now know that Government regulations were to be replaced by CORPORATE ANARCHY.

Ronald Reagan's big lie was that he would set us free by getting rid of big Government. The joke is on us. Do you feel more free now? Ha! Only if you're a corporate executive.

Doesn't anyone remember the deregulation of the Savings and Loan industry, which led to an enormous taxpayer bailout. Doesn't anyone remember the deregulation of the airline industry, which led to higher ticket prices and lower wages. Or, more recently; doesn't anyone remember the deregulation of the power companies, which led to the Enron debacle... and now the mass construction of dirty, dangerous, old-technology coal-fired power plants.

Government, now, is definitely the problem. The lobbyists have taken over.

  • There is virtually no protection left from corporate abuse.

  • We have fewer and fewer public services – while military spending just gets more and more out of control.

  • Our taxes haven't gone down, while corporations pay next to nothing – or get subsidized.

  • Our national debt continues to go up exponentially.

  • The technology that would allow us more independence, such as alternative energy generation, has been actively undermined.

  • And worst of all; our Bill of Rights has essentially been ignored.

While Bush Jr. goes on and on about the threat of terrorism, Mother Jones magazine has estimated that 100,000 premature deaths can be expected from the 42 million tons of additional air pollutants released under his “Clear Skies” plan. We've been duped – and it will cost the well being of many Americans, many livelihoods, and many lives.

Someone once wrote; “None are more hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free.”

The Reagan revolution was actually a counter-revolution. We are less free than ever. Our Government is the least functional it has ever been. And if we don't fix things, now, our Environment will make the Dust Bowl of the Depression look like no more than a sign.