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Monday, March 30

Solar Power and Death of the Middle East's way of life

"The Golden State more than doubled its solar output last year and now hosts two of the world’s largest solar plants."

That's the lede from California is first state with 5% of its electricity from solar by by Tom Huddleston, Jr.; March 24, 2015; Forbes.  

California isn't the only U.S. state that's rapidly increasing its use of solar power -- usage being driven by big business, as you'll learn from the Forbes report.  But the biggest diver is now California's historic drought; it's giving solar power a boost it never could have gotten otherwise.....

They always knew it would happen, someday.  Someday in the distant future. They didn't factor in the cascade effect and convergences in an age of megapopulations, megabillion dollar government budgets, and mega-stock markets. They didn't factor in the odd leaps that technology can make.

The unrest today in the Middle East is overture to the death of a way of life. It was built on a concept of modernity, copied from the wealthiest Western countries, that is now obsolete. The concept is symbolized by forests of skyscrapers in megacities.  So I take issue with one passage from the National Geographic article I highlighted in the last post about Jordan's water crisis:
Amman's towering skyscrapers, glitzy new suburbs, and slumlike neighborhoods on the outskirts tell the tale of a population that grew by 86 percent between 1990 and 2008, according to the World Bank.
The population explosion isn't the tale.  The tale is in the infrastructures of the city of Amman and its towering skyscrapers and the belief that they represent modernity.  They represent artifacts of the past. Governments in water stressed regions will either confront this or perish as completely as the Assyrian empire.  What's masked this for so long is simply that the wealthiest Western countries can support obsolescence longer than ones that had no business copying a way of life their climates couldn't sustain.

This doesn't let the West off the hook. California, if a country, would be the 10th largest and its GDP the 7th largest.  So meteorologists turn to the mathematicians, the mathematicians cast their eyes to data from weather satellites that trawl the world's heavens and plumb the oceans' depths.  Looking, looking, for signs of a break in California's drought..... 


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