We’re Americans. Aren’t we smarter than that? | TheUnion.com
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We’re Americans. Aren’t we smarter than that?

Growing up in the ’50s, our economy was in full gear and life was good, but my parents remembered the hard times of their youth and taught us the importance of not wasting resources.

Now we consume without thought, sucking natural resources from our environment until Mother Nature screams that there isn’t enough to sustain all. So what do we do? The only thing that an animal as arrogant and shortsighted as a human would do. Don’t fix the problem, just put a pink flowered band-aid on it. That looks better, go home and don’t worry your little head, because all is OK for now.

Recent letters to the editor and an opinion piece in The Union are prime examples of this mentality. They suggest that because climate change is causing our environment to become drier, which I believe, we must build more dams and reservoirs to stop wasting precipitation by allowing it to flow downstream to the ocean.



Enlarging current storage and creating new is not the solution, it is the Band-Aid and wasteful. On the other hand, water flowing down our streams and rivers is not wasted. It is an important part of our natural environment, which we as humans need in order to survive as a species.

We may be the top of an extremely complex pyramid of life, but the lower blocks support the top, not the other way around.

Many humans find it impossible to comprehend that we are animals just like the yellow-legged frog or the salmon. We may be the top of an extremely complex pyramid of life, but the lower blocks support the top, not the other way around. Remove too many lower blocks and Humpty Dumpty will come tumbling down and break his crown. We don’t need new and improved ways of sucking resources from our environment, but an enlightening shift in our understanding of how humans fit into nature, which we have forgotten.




Our climate is changing and many areas of our country beyond California are also experiencing prolonged drought conditions. The California Central Valley is sinking due to ground water depletion and the San Joaquin River is dry for many miles, in some areas actually flowing backwards due to pumping, yet numerous new wells are being drilled even deeper to suck even more water out. We’re Americans. Aren’t we smarter than that?

Ground water is being depleted and low snow levels are inadequate to meet the levels of extraction from the major rivers such as the Colorado. The bottom of Lake Mead is moving upward due to silt accumulation while the top is heading down due to evaporation and excessive water removal. So what does Las Vegas, which uses 70 percent of its water for irrigating its 60 plus golf courses and a lot of residential lawns, do? Dig new tunnels to access the water at a lower level. We’re Americans. Aren’t we smarter than that?

Our farmers, back bone of our nation that they are, have been pumping water from the Ogallala Aquifer under the Great Plains from Texas to North Dakota since its discovery in the dust bowl years. The Ogallala Aquifer is not bottomless and some areas in Texas and Oklahoma has already been depleted. We’re Americans. Aren’t we smarter than that?

Our planet is bombarded with solar energy every day. Solar electric continues to mature and new technology promises higher output with lower cost and environmental impact. The home use of solar energy to heat water and produce electricity can reduce a home’s outside energy costs to nearly zero, pays for itself in a short period of time and would eliminate the need for new power plants, yet so few seem willing to do what makes common as well as financial sense. We’re Americans. Aren’t we smarter than that?

We Americans are intelligent and have developed technology that allows us to do some pretty amazing things. Doesn’t it make sense to correct the problem using our intelligence and technology working with Mother Nature rather than against? The United States is No. 1 in the world for energy waste. Fully 58 percent of the energy produced in this country is wasted. This is inexcusable, but correctable and in many cases, the correction soon pays for itself in reduced energy costs.

We are Americans, we have the smarts and the technology to solve our growing need for diminishing resources. The same old Band-Aids and shortsighted reactions will not increase resources, only prolong the inevitable. Mature forward thinking is needed to use the resources we have in a sustainable fashion.

We are Americans and we have the “can do,” if we want to.

Robert Wolaver lives in Grass Valley.


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