The Real Deadpool: America’s Drought
We were foolish enough to believe we could water the entire southwestern U.S. with the Colorado River. Nothing could go wrong. Now it has, and tens of millions of people are staring down the barrel of real trouble.
As much as 75% of the water from Lake Mead (fed by the Colorado River) goes to agriculture…so now we have a potential food production problem. Major cities like Las Vegas depend on that water for its citizens…now we have a potential personal survival problem for local residents.
More than 40 million people in seven states need to decide how they go on living if the rains do not return. Is anyone worried? Is there an emergency management team in place? Doesn’t seem that way if you review the local news there.
Are they prepared? No. Maybe 3% of the population has anything in place for survival. What do they do? Where do they go?
Is Kansas ready for an influx of evacuees from California? Can the East Coast handle another few million people?
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The Real Deadpool: America’s Drought
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220614_ep65_part-1_Deadly Drought in the Southwest
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:00:00] Many of you have asked me about this. What is going on with the drought in the southwest? We are going to be talking about the dead pool today.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:00:14] Hello, everyone. Chris Martenson here with an update for you. And today we’re going to be talking about the drought in the southwest. I know, I know. I know. You’re just like, how much bad news can you take? It seems like everywhere you turn around, there’s just another predicament that we’re facing. But they are all connected and all of them, when you follow them back, lead to this one central idea that it is time for you to become more resilient. Time for me to become more resilient. It’s time for us together to be more resilient. And by resilient, that’s our ability to spring back from adversity and or to face new, challenging times with the greatest amount of thriving possible. So that’s what I really care about. I care about you. I care about you thriving. I want to help. Here’s my model. Good information that’s actionable so that you can take actions before things happen when it can be harder to react to those. Quick example might be an earthquake, right? So if you know earthquakes are a possibility and you should if you live on a fault, but you are one of the 97% of the people who do not prepare for an earthquake. Well, when one happens, you’re less resilient in that moment. You don’t have a 48 hour emergency kit. You don’t have any means of communicating. You haven’t developed a plan with your family as to where your rally points are. You don’t know anything, right? You got to figure it all out on the fly. So that means you’re surviving, scrambling, but not in a position to help others and or do better for yourself and your family and loved ones. So that’s what I care about. I want to help you survive and thrive. So let’s look at this now. Deadpool, tell you what that means in just a second. We know that there’s this megadrought underway in the American southwest. And when you look at those colors as they go from white means, things are kind of cool all the way. You know, there’s no drought all the way up to yellow, kind of abnormally dry tan, moderate drought, orange. Now we’re talking severe drought. And we went through a severe drought here two years ago. And that was scary because as they say in the farming community, you know, the wet will scare you if it’s too wet, but the dry will kill you. So drought is something that’s unsurvivable for plants and for farming. It’s very difficult, obviously. And then we get up to red, which is extreme drought. I mean, that’s really bad. I’ve been through one of those here yet myself and then we’ve got exceptional drought, which is that darkest, dark, darkest maroon color. So look at the all the dark. This is millions and millions and millions of acres. And it’s primarily say, you know, divide the country in half. It’s on the western side. So the western side, except for the northwest, is in really exceptional drought at this point in time or extreme drought. And that’s really hard to to solve for it’s game over for a couple of small towns. This is a small town in California and this guy’s walking on one of their lakes that I guess they were using for water. There are two river systems that come in have completely dried up. There’s really nothing you can do about this except truck water in, maybe drill deeper. Wells A lot of places, however, have already drilled as deep as they can, can’t afford to drill any deeper or the water down there is just disappearing too rapidly or it’s not of the right quality that deep. There’s a lot of things going on. So we should know about these. And these again, they fall under the umbrella of humans doing things that were unsustainable.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:03:35] Today, we’re going to be looking at the most unsustainable practice of them all, which was overusing the Colorado River basin to the extent that up to 40 million people are going to have to maybe figure out something else to do with their lives besides live where they live. If the rains don’t come back soon, and that’s what we’re gonna look at here today. So this is a big deal. This is Lake Mead. We’re looking at a picture here. The water used to come all the way up to those rocks. In that picture, this would have been a blue horizon. Instead, it’s just a little smear of blue down there in a lot of tan. They say here and get my drawn to allow talking about this real quick and select the tool farmers are already feeling the pain. About 75% of the water from Lake Mead goes to agriculture, they say here I’ve heard other estimates as low as 50%, some as low as 40%. A lot of the water goes towards agriculture. We’ll talk about that in a minute, too, because maybe, just maybe, growing plants in the desert was not the right thing to do. So we’ll get it. Maybe we have to rethink our our overall strategy here. Over a third of America’s vegetables, two thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown in California. And a lot of those are irrigated. But tens of thousands of acres lie idle now because farmers can’t get enough water to grow their crops. So it’s already having an impact if you are facing inflation, food inflation, particularly vegetable inflation, you know how expensive they are now, right? I mean, you see vegetables used to be one of those things like your eat your, you know, fruits and meats and veggies. Now you have to really maybe sometimes plan if you can even afford. And a lot of people can’t afford fruits and vegetables. Turns out they’re very expensive because they’re grown thousands of miles away using very expensive techniques and chewing up a lot of water. So those are going to become more and more expensive and difficult to come by in quantity. Of course, there’s also quality issues because we’ve been growing in the same way, on the same land for so long that some of the essential nutrients in those vegetables are now a fraction of what they used to be and arguably have fallen below useful levels in some categories. So planning a garden because you can always grow your own higher quality produce if you have that opportunity. So they’re saying, yeah, you know, the impact may be seen on grocery stores next year. Of course, always a possibility. And it’s just it’s getting it’s getting pretty bad. All right. Here’s what’s going on. Oh, first. Hey, quick shameless plug for for my site. When people watch these part ones, you’re watching what we call a part one. This is public. I put all this effort into that and then I usually have something that we present produce for our members only. Here’s a couple of members. A U.S. rating I thought was a really good comment. And this is an example of the kinds of comments and discussions we’re having back at Peak Prosperity.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:06:13] This person from Australia writing in Australia we have a term get cracking is in. I better get cracking. Making dinner. Plowing a field, etc. means get moving. Get to it. Chris, I understand your urgency. It is. I think it is time to get cracking. No more monkeying around or monkey business. That is all a distraction. I can’t imagine better signals that things are really off. Sri Lanka. Turkey, U.N. food shortages, Biden, morning baby formulas, all that stuff. I see food shortages late this year and famine in 2023. It’s academic. If it’s engineered or not, the outcome will still have the same effect in yellow. Quote I feel the biggest canary yet is that no one is talking about food shortages in Australia. So this is a global phenomenon. It’s typical. People tend not to focus on something until they really have to. Again, 97% of people do not prepare for an earthquake who live on top of a fault line. And there are people reminding them that maybe they should get prepared because eventually, someday, that fault line will let go. But people don’t do that. That’s why you’re here. That’s why we have these conversations, because I guess we’re capable of having these conversations. We can clearly look here in the United States at this drought data and see the impact it’s going to have, not just on food prices, but even food availability going forward. And even more so, if you are a real estate investor out in these regions, you have to you should really be paying attention to what these warning signs are saying, because by the time everybody gets it, it’s too late to protect your wealth under that circumstance. So. Al says my advice. Get cracking. Grow your own food. Store it. Lots of it. Avoid distractions at all costs. See them for what they are and quote, you are being distracted all the time. We covered that last week. We’re talking about these crazy cultural distractions that are going on in my country. A lot of things to distract people. The important thing, food, energy, water. We’re down to the basic issues now at this point in the story, there’s a really big story about each one of those. I’ve covered food, I’ve covered energy. Now we’re doing water. I know there’s some. It seems like it’s a little bit regional, right? Oh, well, it’s Southwest. I don’t live there. Perhaps a European listener, viewers watching this.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:08:24] Obviously, Italy’s Po River in a major drought. Drought is a big deal now. And as well, when countries import food, they’re not actually importing food so much as they’re importing water. When you import a ton of wheat, you’re actually importing a thousand tons of water because that’s how much water it typically takes to grow and process a ton of wheat. So when we talk about water and water shortages in prime growing areas, which is what we’re going to talk about today. We’re actually talking about an impact on the global situation out there for food. So water food, you know obviously very intimately linked can say in 91 wrote in response to last the one I produced last week excellent commentary as always, excellent information and observations. I wake up every day, feel like I’m living in upside down world. Things are changing so fast, my head spins, end quote. And this is why we come together as a group, because it is head spinning and we need to be part of our own tribe. We need each other for support and keep our heads swiveled on straight because it’s really crazy times. All right. With that, this is what I’m going to be talking about in part two of this. For members, only a lot of recession indicators got to talk about something really kind of wonky but very important called the credit impulse. If you care about finance, financial markets, things like that. And as well, the magic juice narrative is shredding rapidly before our eyes got a lot of data around that. Now back to this whole thing, Lake Mead, there’s two major lakes on the Colorado River. You got Lake Powell, you got Lake Mead. Lake Powell is upstream. Lake needs down at Las Vegas. This is the Lake Mead yearly water level starting here in light color in 2000, in coming down through darker colors down here to 2022. And you can see just every single year the lake water level is going down and down and down and down. This isn’t like there was a couple of dry years. This starts in the year 2000 and it’s been trucking down ever since. There’s some important levels noted on here. First, here’s where it was back in May of 2022. It’s actually lower than that now. And they have here as well. This is this dotted line right here, way down here, like 18% capacity is the volume where electricity generation no longer possible. This is not just well, you know, we lost a hydro dam. This is a critical source of baseload capacity for the region. It’s an enormous generating dam. So if it if we lose that, I don’t know, the electricity grids already strained all over the United States, losing that amount of electricity production in that region would be a huge blow. And then here down here, this is the volume down percent where they can’t release water any more a.k.a that’s called a Deadpool.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:11:11] A Deadpool in dam terminology means the pool elevation has fallen to a point where you can’t release any more water out of that pool to go downstream. If or when that happens, if we ever get to the Deadpool zone, that means all those 40 million people downstream who are relying on this water flow are going to be in deep, deep trouble. Now, obviously, we’re going to take some steps before that. That’s what you should be aware of, because some of these are going to be pretty disruptive overall. So let’s get to those and see where we are. This is what it looks like.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:11:43] Those were percent elevations. This is actual elevations. Quick, quick thing here. When they say a thousand feet above, that’s mean feet above mean sea level. So when they measure the height of the pools of these reservoirs, it’s not from what you would imagine standing there at the edge that the elevation from full would be zero and you would go down from there or whatever number they measure. From how high is that elevation of the water from sea level just makes it easy because that way you can compare them also. So first we have to adjust our thinking around what are the important elevations for Lake Mead here we see it in 2020. This was its average elevation starting at about 1000 feet of elevation, progressing up to about thousand 90 and then coming down following a very same typical pattern here in 2021 like this. And then here’s 2022. This is just absolutely getting crushed right here, losing somewhere around point one feet per day now at this point in time. So it’s standing now at 1046. This is as of June 7th is probably lower than that today when you’re watching this. So what does that mean? What are the critical water levels? Well, the critical water levels for Lake Mead. First, here’s Lake Powell. I told you, there’s two of them. And here’s Lake Mead. The dead pool elevation for Lake Mead is 895 feet. The minimum pool elevation would be 1000 feet. And so we’re getting there. We were at what was this, maybe 8068 here in beginning of March and already down 20 feet from that point in time here just a couple of months later, a few months later. So this is losing 20 feet every few months. You we can calculate like how long before we would get to dead pool. Now, obviously, you know, rain could change this. There’s a lot of loss in spring, but then it tends to level out as we see again here over and over. So we would expect that same behavior here this next year before we get there. This is the Colorado River basin. It touches seven states. 40 million people are relying on it. You got 22 tribes, 5.5 million irrigated acres, seven national wildlife refuges and 11 national parks. Now, those are listed out because each one of those is a is a stakeholder interest with rights that are by law enshrined to each state, has a certain right to the water in this basin. So do people, tribes, farmers, wildlife refuges. Every one of them is going to have a request on that particular piece of water. But it’s just it’s very complicated. So that’s why these things are so hard to solve, because that’s a really complicated situation with all those different stakeholders. Nobody wants to give up their rights. Everybody wants their fair share of water, and there isn’t enough for everybody. So it makes for very complicated discussions. Very complicated, if not contentious. If not what? What did they say? You know?
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:14:47] People will fight over whiskey, but they’ll kill over water. Look out west. Water is everything. And so this is going to be a really contentious fight as we go forward. But it’s a big, big basin is that whole basin, that whole giant thing outlined in black right now, the upper and lower basins, which are in deep trouble right now in that 1200 year drought going on. So remember. So see those states, we’ve got Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada in there. So if you think back to this drought monitor and I’ll put this side by side so we can compare it more easily, but this is the region right in here that we’re talking about. Oops, all through here. Right in here. Bad drawing. But we’ll get it next time. We’ll get there. All right. So let’s compare it again. The Colorado River basin, a lot of agriculture comes out of there. So by the numbers, they’re saying in this one, 80% of the diverted water is used for agriculture. It’s about 15% of the nation’s crop production. 90% of the nation’s winter vegetable production. So if you like peppers in February, that’s what we’re talking about here. And half of the water goes to feed for livestock and cattle. So what do we got? Dairy, cattle, cotton, alfalfa, veggies, things like that. And so what are they telling us here? Well, wheat corn varies. Fresh produce are likely to be particularly strained by supply rationing. Corn, wheat. Hang on, though. That’s a little it’s a little interesting. This is what it looks like that I mean, that is just if now if those crops weren’t there. That gentleman would be standing in what you would identify as a desert. And so this whole idea of growing crops in the desert, maybe not such a good idea. This is this is alfalfa down here. So this is just this is growing feed for cows. Where’s the water come from? Well, it comes from either groundwater or it comes from the Colorado River. So so that’s an astonishing use of water, because what happens is the plants are basically evapotranspiration live machines, meaning they help evaporate and transfer water. You put it on them and they put it right into the atmosphere. They’re amazingly good at it. So that’s what it looks like growing in the middle of the desert. And we’re growing corn in the desert. Maybe we should grow corn in Iowa. I’m just I’m just making stuff up here. But, no, this is really serious. We cannot continue to do this. This is an unsustainable practice. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to be growing corn in the desert. Hey, I’m sure the farmer involved with their senior water rights and their granddad grew corn and they grow corn and it makes money. I get all that I’m saying from a higher perspective, maybe it doesn’t make sense to be growing vegetables and crops and things like that in the desert. It’s a great growing environment, but if you can’t have the water, why do it? So sooner or later we’re going to see that exact dynamic break forward. So we look back at this and this really bad trend thinking about where, you know, where are we relative to? Well, we’re already below the level for having full electricity production. So that’s true. But this whole thing we’ve actually dropped as well. Recently, some of you probably saw this. This is there are three main intake pipes that took water out of Lake Mead and supplied it to Las Vegas. This is one of them. Pipe number one is now fully exposed and obviously useless. So that’s no good. Where are we in this larger story? Well, intake one is already already below that because that was 1050 and we’re now at 1046. So, oops, that’s out. There’s another pipe down here. Which is it? A thousand feet. So we’ve got about 46 feet tall. That one’s all gone. And then here’s the absolute last intake right here. This is actually below the Deadpool level. It’s all the way down at 860 feet. They just finished drilling that one in a really cool engineering project, how they managed to drill a hole thing under a lake and connect it in astonishing. They’ve got about 186 more feet to intake number three, which means we can actually calculate some numbers off of that and figure out where we are now.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:19:01] Basically. Oh, I don’t know. Two, two, two. I should have had that in here. So it looks like somewhere around mid 20, 23 to 2024, we get to Deadpool and at current rates now the rates could slow down. There’s a lot of things that could mitigate that. But but that’s where we are right now. So it’s not that much more time, another year or two at current conditions and rates, we get to Deadpool and that’s nobody has a plan for that. I haven’t seen what we’re going to do about that. It’s got to just, you know, you pray for rain at that point. But there’s a big issue here. And another big issue, which is water in the West. This is something called the Ogallala Aquifer. It’s a giant aquifer that sits underground. This is groundwater. People have been sticking straws down into it for a very long time. It’s an aquifer. It’s underground water. And that water is we might as well consider it ancient water. It takes about 10,000 years to recharge the Ogallala from surface water that would come down if the surface water was able to penetrate and come all the way back down again. Quote About 300 feet below the asphalt of I-70, west of Colby, Kansas, lies a geological miracle, an immense cache of groundwater known as the Ogallala Aquifer. The aquifer, one of the world’s largest, was created 10 million years ago. A streams flowed eastward from the Rocky Mountains. It’s stretches across parts of eight states. It supplies 2.3 million people with 82% of their drinking water. Today, however, it’s disappearing at an alarming rate. Once the size of Lake Huron gets big, the aquifer has been drained for years to irrigate the semi-arid land in western Kansas. Nebraska. In the Texas panhandle, one sixth of the world’s grain is produced with water from the aquifer. End quote. One sixth of the world’s grain is produced from an aquifer that is an ancient aquifer. And we’re drawing it down. And we can also see the end date of that particular activity as well. Completely unsustainable. It was fun while it lasted, but now we’re going to get to that battle, which is what do we do? Do we grow grain to export to the rest of the world, feed it to cows and humans? Or do we not waste that water on that or use that water in that way? And we use it for the people who live there instead so they can take showers and baths and drink it and stuff like that. It that’s we’re going to can’t do everything right. So that’s really the major battle and predicament that is. Signing up. We’re signed up for right now. Quote, On the high plains of Kansas, the demand for water far outpaces the sustainable and renewable practices now in place, says Mark Rood, who oversees the Southwest Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District. So this is what it looks like. That’s that right there. It’s like this huge underground pool of water and covering those states right there. You can see this is just to the east of that whole Colorado River basin, which is just to the west. So things that along that dividing line that flow into the Colorado River go to the left, the the stuff flowing to the east off of that continental divide area would flow down and it penetrated the ground, went into the Ogallala Aquifer. So this is what it looks like farming. On top of that, when we say one sixth of the world’s grain is grown. How is that? Well, from the air, you would look down and you would see these these giant wheels. These are these huge irrigation booms. They’ve got a central pipe bringing all the water up off in a big giant diameter bore pipe and these huge arms. And they go in a big circle and they make these wheel beautiful look at all that dark green. We are growing massive quantities of food off of that water. But here’s the issue. We can see now if this is the Ogallala Aquifer here in blue here it is mapped out with the change in the water level that we’ve seen in this thing since since it started getting tracked, these darkish maroon period pieces here this is the water table has dropped more than 150 feet in those places. This whole area all through here is where a lot of grain is grown down here. And that part is gotten really, really depleted. And so it looks like this. I’m going to put four maps on here at once, too, of the groundwater depletion. Those are the orangish ones. But this is how much winter wheat. I could do the same thing for corn. Wheat. There’s a lot of different crops grown here, but with winter wheat, I think you can begin to map it up and you can see for yourself that this area here with all this groundwater here, which is getting depleted, is the same as this area here. So that’s what we’re doing with it. We are taking this water that takes 10,000 years or more to fill up and drawing it down at a very, very rapid rate. And it’s very easy to see the end of that cycle. This isn’t just a little slow. You know, a couple of farmers going to have a tough time. It goes back to Sagebrush. Now, this is one sixth of the world’s current grain output. It’s a huge, huge deal. And that’s that’s coming along as well. And, of course, any droughts that we’re having are not helping this dynamic out at all. So notice they’re right down the center of the country like from Texas in that line of states going straight north. That’s where we see a lot of difficulty. And when we go back to our drought monitor, that’s this region right here. So, again, plenty of drought, not a lot of water, and it’s going away pretty quickly. All right. A couple of things could help. First, stop growing crops in the desert. That’s going to happen. California lawmakers are already mulling buying out the farmers to save the water so they’ll buy the farmers water rights. Once the farmer sells those water rights, that farm no longer has a farm. It’s going to revert back to whatever scrub or dry land vegetation make sense there, but it’s not going to farm any more.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:24:45] So every time this happens and this would be the fairest way to do this would be to buy the farmers out, then it’s a choice. Farmers can take that money and go somewhere. But we should all be aware that as cities are making those decisions to buy those water rights for themselves, that what they’re really doing is taking food out of production. Maybe that food is going to come out of production eventually anyway, but this is a thing we should all be aware of. So that’s part one. Don’t grow crops in the desert. That’s going to happen. That’s not even a prediction. That’s just a trend. Extrapolation. Can’t do that for longer. For much longer. All right. Pray for lots and lots of rain. Hey, you know what? NOAA’s forecasting that it’s going to be a busy hurricane season. The best we could hope for would be like Harvey, which came and stalled over Texas, over Houston, something like Harvey, big cat five comes in, slows down, doesn’t damage a lot of things, and then rumbles straight up into the Colorado basin and dumps a lot of water. That would be the best thing we could hope for. But praying, you know, hope alone is a terrible strategy. So we can hope for this. And I do hope that that rain comes. And I think we’re gonna have to start making some other plans. So for people out there who are listening to this, who have commercial real estate, residential real estate interests in that zone where there is these water issues, you need to start asking yourself a question and coming up with the answer to it. And that is how much is your building worth if no water comes to it? It’s going to be a number, but it’s not going to be a big one. So that’s the issue that I think is no longer unthinkable at this point in time. And that water and that drought in the Southwest is really astonishing. Now, some have said is climate change. I don’t know. I know that we are in a period of climate instability. There are historical records showing that there were very, very dry periods before in that region having nothing to do with climate change. So it might just be part of the regular periodic cycle, hydrological cycle of that region where it sometimes just doesn’t rain a lot for long periods. It wiped out cultures back there, the dinosaurs, ozone culture there. It’s been a persistent issue for a long time. We’re in the middle of one of these really exceptional dry periods. So maybe this is just how it’s going to be, maybe the last 200 years. We’re kind of exceptionally wet. There’s evidence for that as well. If that’s the case, we made living arrangements based on an unusual period of wetness that is now reverted back to what it used to be, which is more dryness. So something to think about there. And I think a lot of people are going to have to make adjustments around that. So the steps you could take, obviously, you’re going to plant a garden if you can, if you live in the southwest. You know, this is probably not going to be an option. They’ve just done water emergency rationing in the L.A. region where people aren’t allowed to use water. I guess I don’t know what the penalties are if you do anyway, but that’s a tricky thing. But if you do plant a gardener in a dry area, use drip irrigation, it works amazingly well. It’s wonderfully conservative for the the best you could do is to have drip irrigation. So if you’re able to do it and you live in a dry area, drip irrigation matters a lot. We are blessed with water here in western Massachusetts.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:27:41] So something I don’t personally have to worry about. We don’t have to worry about here at Honey Badger Farm, which is great. The other thing is to really ask that answer that question. I mean, if you’re living in an area which is just bone dry and you live, say, here in Las Vegas where you know that Lake Mead is going to get to potentially below your lowest intake, take pipe. All these houses become worthless very, very rapidly if that happens. Not saying it’s going to, but it’s something that we can now consider because we can calculate it and see that that’s coming potentially sometime in the next 2 to 3 years. So. Start thinking about it. All right. That is all I have for you here today on part one. Part two, we’ll get to now people can wander over to Peak Prosperity if you want to. If you’re not a member. Join down there Peak Prosperity dot com slash membership and I’ve got a bunch of other warning signs that are more immediate. This water thing is a big, slow moving steamroller of a situation, but we got some more urgent things to talk about right now. These are big. We have a recession coming and there’s pretty strong evidence out there right now that the financial system is not in great shape, of course. And as well, I got to talk to some people about the magic juice and what we’re seeing now, because it’s getting pretty difficult to avoid noticing what’s going on out there. Again, a lot of these things I’m only free to talk about in the privacy of my own website, and that’s why I do it there. So I’ll see those of you there who are members, everybody else.
Dr. Chris Martenson [00:29:11] Thanks for listening. I will see you next time. Bye bye.
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