Diminishing Water and Oil Supplies

Show Summary - July 19th, 2010


Sharon welcomed the listeners and talked about the importance of water in life and life in water. She said that it is imperative for everyone to realize the importance of water, to drink plenty of water and to carry water with them if they are unsure of a water source. Dehydration, or lack of water, is out of control in our world and causes or contributes to ailments from allergies to obesity.

Guest: H. Court Young

H. Court Young (Golden, CO), author and geologist, "Water, oil and global terrorism."

Mr. Young studied petroleum geology in college and worked with his father for many years as a water rights consultant in Colorado. Sharon noted that Colorado is the source of several major rivers (Arkansas, Rio Grande and Colorado) and supplies most of the Western states with water.

According to most water rights laws in the West, the earliest resident has priority in water rights. So if somebody downstream has been there longer, you may not be able to capture water for your own use.

The situation is less critical in the Eastern US, where water is more abundant and less seasonal. Mr. Young differentiates between the "physical water supply" and the "Legal water supply." There may be plenty of water but you might not have legal access to it.

Mr. Young notes that water may be used and re-used several times as it moves from its source to the ocean. Because it is a non-renewable resource, obtaining maximum use is important. The legal right to use water is meaningless if there is no water.

Regarding desertification, Mr. Young noted that the climate is constantly fluctuating and that it is impossible to say precisely whether, where or how much human influence this.

If all potable fresh water on Earth was evenly distributed, Mr. Young contends that there would be no problems. However people tend to live in places where local water sources are extremely inadequate, such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Mr. Young predicts a lot more water pipelines and more desalination. It will solve the problem but could substantially raise the price of water.

Regarding oil, Mr. Young describes it as a diminishing resource and believes that rationing is coming very soon. Our legacy to the next generation is wasted petroleum.

In the reporting on the Gulf oil spill, Mr. Young noted that nobody has mentioned that oil in the Gulf has rendered the major desalination plant in St. Petersburg inoperable.

Mr. Young is author of Understanding Water and Terrorism, BurgYoung Publications, 2003.

Categories: Ecology and the environment; global warming and climate change; water and sanitation; 2010