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Water and Cadillac Deserts

Water and Cadillac Deserts

California Aqueduct near Kettleman City. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

My lengthy experience at the US Environmental Protection Agency brought me face to face with the terrors of our “modern” times. One of those awful realizations was that the leaders of America – and the leaders of other countries — are not telling the truth about the impact of people and industries  have been having out there, on the natural world. For example, water.

The degradation, poisoning, and the disappearance of water is, first of all, the result of too many people inhabiting the planet. Despite perpetual wars and plagues, world population is steadily rising.

However, an even bigger force has been undermining water and life on Earth: industrialization: the machine power man acquired and employed to reshape the world to his interests.

This engineering power spread to plantation owners and modern oligarchs who rushed and grabbed land from indigenous people or small family farmers. Water has been absolutely necessary for “landscaping” the natural world and the production of cash crops in large farms and plantations. In addition, developers, miners, river-dam builders, and large cities want lots of water.

Before I tell the story of what “moderns” are doing to water, let’s turn to an earlier age when the Greeks treasured water.

Sacred water and Greek cosmology

Water was sacred to the Greeks because nature and the cosmos were sacred. The gods, and the universe those gods represented, demanded that the Greeks understand their power, which meant an understanding of nature and the cause and effect of phenomena in the natural world and the universe. Mythology informed them that:

(1) the god of southern wind, Notos, was the father of rain, Zeus having given him the prerogative of sending rain-giving clouds from the sky to earth.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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