“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” - George W. Bush

All The Best


I want to thank everyone who participated in the Elephant Bar over the past twelve years. We had millions of visitors from all around the World and you were part of it. Over the past dozen years, two or three times a night, I would open my laptop and some of you were always there. I will miss that.

My plans are to continue my work with technology and architecture. You know my interests and thoughts.

At times, things would get a little rough in the EB. To those of you that I may have offended over the years, I apologize. From all of you, I learned and grew.

An elephant never forgets.
Be well.

Deuce, 21 June 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Not Enough Hard Rain is Gonna Fall.

The wrath of 2007: America's great drought

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles The Independent
Published: 11 June 2007

America is facing its worst summer drought since the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Or perhaps worse still.

From the mountains and desert of the West, now into an eighth consecutive dry year, to the wheat farms of Alabama, where crops are failing because of rainfall levels 12 inches lower than usual, to the vast soupy expanse of Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, which has become so dry it actually caught fire a couple of weeks ago, a continent is crying out for water.

In the south-east, usually a lush, humid region, it is the driest few months since records began in 1895. California and Nevada, where burgeoning population centres co-exist with an often harsh, barren landscape, have seen less rain over the past year than at any time since 1924. The Sierra Nevada range, which straddles the two states, received only 27 per cent of its usual snowfall in winter, with immediate knock-on effects on water supplies for the populations of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The human impact, for the moment, has been limited, certainly nothing compared to the great westward migration of Okies in the 1930 - the desperate march described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath.

Big farmers are now well protected by government subsidies and emergency funds, and small farmers, some of whom are indeed struggling, have been slowly moving off the land for decades anyway. The most common inconvenience, for the moment, are restrictions on hosepipes and garden sprinklers in eastern cities.

But the long-term implications are escaping nobody. Climatologists see a growing volatility in the south-east's weather - today's drought coming close on the heels of devastating hurricanes two to three years ago. In the West, meanwhile, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests a movement towards a state of perpetual drought by the middle of this century. "The 1930s drought lasted less than a decade. This is something that could remain for 100 years," said Richard Seager a climatologist at Columbia University and lead researcher of a report published recently by the government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

While some of this year's dry weather is cyclical - California actually had an unusually wet year last year, so many of the state's farmers still have plenty of water for their crops - some of it portends more permanent changes. In Arizona, the tall mountains in the southern Sonoran desert known as "sky islands" because they have been welcome refuges from the desert heat for millennia, have already shown unmistakable signs of change.

Predatory insects have started ravaging trees already weakened by record temperatures and fires over the past few years. Animal species such as frogs and red squirrels have been forced to move ever higher up the mountains in search of cooler temperatures, and are in danger of dying out altogether. Mount Lemmon, which rises above the city of Tucson, boasts the southernmost ski resort in the US, but has barely attracted any snow these past few years.

"A lot of people think climate change and the ecological repercussions are 50 years away," Thomas Swetnam, an environmental scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, told The New York Times a few months ago. "But it's happening now in the West. The data is telling us that we are in the middle of one of the first big indicators of climate change impacts in the continental United States." Across the West, farmers and city water consumers are locked in a perennial battle over water rights - one that the cities are slowly winning. Down the line, though, there are serious questions about how to keep showers and lawn sprinklers going in the retirement communities of Nevada and Arizona. Lake Powell, the reservoir on the upper Colorado River that helps provide water across a vast expanse of the West, has been less than half full for years, with little prospect of filling up in the foreseeable future.

According to the NOAA's recent report, the West can expect 10-20 per cent less rainfall by mid-century, which will increase air pollution in the cities, kill off trees and water-retaining giant cactus plants and shrink the available water supply by as much as 25 per cent.

In the south-east, the crisis is immediate - and may be alleviated at any moment by the arrival of the tropical storm season. In Georgia, where the driest spring on record followed closely on the heels of a devastating frost, farmers are afraid they might lose anywhere from half to two-thirds of crops such as melons and the state's celebrated peaches. Many cities are restricting lawn sprinklers to one hour per day - and some places one hour only every other day.

The most striking effect of the dry weather has been to expose large parts of the bed of Lake Okeechobee, the vast circular expanse of water east of Palm Beach, Florida, which acts as a back-up water supply for five million Floridians. Archaeologists have had a field day - dredging the soil for human bone fragments, tools, bits of pottery and ceremonial jewellery thought to have belonged to the natives who lived near the lake before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Environmentalists are not entirely upset, because the lake is notoriously polluted with pesticides and other farm products that then poison nearby rivers. River fish stocks in the area are now booming.

Nothing, though, was so strange as the fires that broke out over about 12,000 acres on the northern edge of the lake at the end of May. They were eventually doused by Tropical Storm Barry last weekend. State water managers, however, say it will may take a whole summer of rainstorms, or longer, to restore the lake.

The great Dust Bowl disaster

The Dust Bowl was the result of catastrophic dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American prairies in the 1930s. The fertile soil of the Great Plains had been exposed by removal of grass during ploughing over decades of ill-conceived farming techniques. The First World War and immense profits had driven farmers to push the land well beyond its natural limits.

When drought hit, the soil dried, became dust, and blew eastwards, mostly in large black clouds. This caused an exodus from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and the surrounding Great Plains, with more than half a million Americans left homeless in the Great Depression.


  1. Ask the Anasazi about drought, the one that drove them from Chaco Canyon and the Canyonlands.

    Since 1924, so nothing without precedent is occurring, just long term cycles reoccuring.

    The US west was once referred to as the Great American Desert, with reason.

  2. Good God, Deuce; what was THAT all about?

  3. Lordy mercy, NOAA can't tell you if it's going to rain NEXT WEEK. And they're predicting twenty percent less rainfall in 50 yrs?


  4. re: Archaeologists have had a field day

    As the lake has receded, ancient settlement sites have been exposed, presumably. But, hold on there: doesn’t that mean the lake was much smaller in the recent past? Hmmm…

  5. There's always a drought, somewhere, Deuce. That's why we're constantly splicing genes, developing ever more drought tolerant crops, and working on "desalinization."

  6. Well, there is a new fellow at the bottom of the Hitchens thread, go reel him in, somebody that can talk religion.

  7. Ask the Maya.

    Dig down in the mid-west, you can find sand.

    And I hope against hope Vegas doesn't run out of water. It is a most lovely suck hole, and keeps them out of here.

  8. As a salute to the Elephant Bar, I copy this out, from John Donne, The Reformed Soul--

    "A contemporary description of the archetypal London tavern shows a murky place where 'the rooms are ill-breath'd, like the drinkers that have been washt well(dowsed in booze)overnight...not furnisht with beds to be defiled but more necessay implements, Stooles, Table and a Chamber Pot'. A pub might be open all day and night, and after a long session it could become 'like a streete in a dashing showre, where the spouts are flushing above, and the Conduits(gutters) running belowe'. The place was a 'Theater of natures...the busie mans recreation, the idle mans businesse, the melancholy mans Sanctuary'. For Donne, the tavern fulfilled a little of all these purposes; it allowed him to relax, make contacts, and also find some refuge from his cares. Yet on occasions it seemed just one more spectable of an irredeemable world. Few of those who read the products of his 'early wit', copying his satires and erotic verse into private commonplace books, could have imagined the turn his most personal poetry was taking. Few of those who knew him, even those who read Pseudo-Martyr, and marked him as a man destined for the Church, could have known that there were frequent times when absolutely nothing at all made sense to him."

    Donne pulls out of it, and becomes John Donne, The Divine head of St Paul's. But we all need a bar once in a while.

    He hung out at The Mermaid and at The Rose, where it is impossible to dry out. :)

  9. I am revitalizing myself waiting for the next amnesty round.

  10. Wouls someone please beg Wretchard not to do the graphics.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Why not use sea water to produce electricity to then be used for desalination purposes as the water is moved to inland reservoirs?

  13. Mat, we might try to use nuclear energy to desalinate sea water to drink and irrigate crops. I'm thinking I might almost like a big drought if it would stop immigration. No crops, no jobs, no nothing. But I'm not in the best of moods today. Damn the government.

  14. Mat, you've got the right idea. It's already more expensive to transport water than it is to desalinate it. Any pipeline of substantial distance will have a section of falling elevation, Think of water pumped over a mountain range.

    That water can create a significant amount of electricity as it falls.

  15. Yes, I know you've expended energy to get it over the mountain, but, at least you would be recouping some of it on the other side.

  16. Banner year for rainfall here in West Texas, we have already passed our yearly average. Drought is a way of life here and water conservation on everyone's mind. On the High Plains, agriculture is swiftly moving to drip irrigation. Improves cotton yields from 1 to 2 bales per acre up to 3-4 per acre. In the ranch country, freshwater lakes are under construction. I agree with DR, recurring cycles...
    Soil conservation, better crop genitics, don't see sandstorms like we used to.

  17. Rufus, there is a city up on the plains that constructed a lake here in the ranch country several years ago for drinking water. The cost of lifting the water up 1800 feet in elevation and moving it 65 miles to the city is considered so prohibitive that they are looking at selling the water to towns downstream.

  18. from 1 to 2 bales per acre up to 3-4 per acre.

    MAN, That's a Gettin' it!

    I gotta read up on that!

  19. Drip irrigation, that's the way to go.

  20. This irrigation stuff is really getting fancy. Water, fertilizer, chemical, just what the plant needs and no more, delivered at night usually, really something.

  21. Jake, Bob, do you have a name of a company in the drip-irrigation business?

  22. Mətušélaḥ said...

    Why not use sea water to produce electricity to then be used for desalination purposes as the water is moved to inland reservoirs?
    Well first you have to figure out how to convert seawater to electricity. I blogged about turning saltwaterinto fire two weeks ago.

  23. Drip irrigation
    Rufus I'm more of a cattle guy than a farmer. I'll have to ask some of my farmer friends. I have seen these guys around.

    Bob have you ever seen the new systems that link GPS directly to the tractor?

  24. 2164th said...

    I am revitalizing myself waiting for the next amnesty round.
    The way water relates to amnesty is by way of the North American Union. There are a number of different projects the bush is engaged into to foster the NAU project. Among them is a continental sized chinatown bulk water transfer from canada to the US southwest & Mexico. To underline just how agenda driven bulk water transfer is--consider that the Austrailians have just embarked on a major desalination research program designed to cut the cost of water in half in 10 years. They considered bulk water transfer but they decided to invest in research based on work in US labratories

  25. Jake, your link didn't work.

  26. Scientists patent sythetic life. For BIOFUELS, Of Course.

  27. http://www.netafimusa.com/

    Rufus...sorry, I'm link challenged for some reason

  28. I understand Jake, Thanks.

    Kilmer, That's a GREAT LINK; Thanks.

  29. Charles,

    I'm not an engineer, but it seems to me that we can use water pressure to our advantage.

    The basic idea is this:

    Stick a tube in towards the bottom of the sea. The bottom end of the tube will contain the turbine generator. As water is pushed towards the top of the tube it generates electricity. This electricity is then used to desalinate the water. The fresh water that reaches sea level, is then tubed to an inland reservoir at or below sea level.

  30. Rufus, I haven't seen the GPS but have heard quite a bit about it. The comvbine I hired the last harvest had ground reading radar to keep the header--36ft worth of header--even with the ground at a constant height. Around town you can find old pictures of 10 or 12 horse team reapers with about the same number of men working them. Amazing stuff.