“Drought on top of drought. Climate change on top of drought. And our response is always the same,” Angell said. “Plant more almonds and pistachios. Plant more housing tracts on farmland. But the river isn’t the same. The aquifer isn’t the same.”
Whether it’s water, soil, climate, or crop, Californians believe they can keep on flouting the bounds. But drought reveals the lie of a place. The invention of the “Golden State” was an overreach from the get-go. That it relied on the genocide of the biggest flowering of Indigenous culture in North America should have been a first clue. The continent’s edge that the settlers bit off and called one state was 1,000 miles long with a dozen different states of nature inside it. The rain fell 140 inches on one end. It fell 12 inches on the other end. The other end happened to be where most of the people wanted to live. Our conceit was to believe that if we built the grandest water system ever, we could make that difference disappear. California proceeded with the federal Central Valley Project in the 1930s and the State Water Project in the 1960s and erected dams, canals, and a concrete river 444 miles long—we called it The Aqueduct—to move the rain to farms and faucets. We had engineered our way past drought and flood, if not earthquake and wildfire, or so we believed.
from The Well Fixer’s Warning (the Atlantic)
The ubiquity of water is demonstrated in almost everything we come into contact with. It’s responsible for everyday objects like blue jeans, bread, and coffee, it rushes through pipes below our feet, is necessary for industrial violence like fracking, mapped through watersheds, exists as a healing modality, and is also a great source of pleasure – yet most of us take water for granted as a mundane necessity, rarely stopping to look at how tightly water is woven into politics, science, and the economy.
This week on the podcast we look at the power and ubiquity of water in a world where it is becoming scarce with guest Andrea Ballestero. Thinking back to water launching as a commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2020, Andrea explores the tensions that exist between a human right and a commodity, water futures, pricing mechanisms, the fallacy of rationing and block pricing, and water scarcity. How do we distinguish the difference between commodity versus right? Why do we need to problematize our tendency towards a water-war defined future? As we sink into the many paradoxes surrounding our relationship with water, Andrea reminds us to center water as a collective concern that should unite us, as opposed to an individual property that can be traded and hoarded.“Water is something that is now being traded in the stock market at the same time that water is something that millions and millions of people around the world lack for their everyday needs.”
from episode 247 ANDREA BALLESTERO on a Future History of Water (for the wild)
As the recent IPCC report highlights, we are on the brink of ecological collapse, yet we know that Indigenous communities continue to hold key insights into how to mitigate environmental destruction. Required Reading: Climate Justice, Adaptation and Investing in Indigenous Power is both a road map and a call to action that illuminates the linkages between centering Indigenous leadership and repairing our fractured world.
from Required Reading pre-order through NDN Collective