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View Diary: Watering Lawns in the Desert: What Las Vegas Can Tell Us About Climate Change (and Ourselves) (125 comments)

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  •  As a life-long desert dweller (38+ / 0-)

    I agree wholeheartedly.  Thank you for this post.

    The desert is a human-unfriendly place without A/C and a great source of steady water.  

    We've created comfort bubbles that take care of physical and emotional/entertainment needs. Unfortunately we've been very successful in doing this.  Now it is hard to pry ourselves out.

    Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

    by CindyV on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:11:43 PM PDT

    •  The water is a real problem (17+ / 0-)

      not so much the cooling.  It takes less energy to cool a house to 70 even when the daytime temp is 100 (30 degree diff) than it takes to heat a house to 70 when the outside temp is 30 (40 degree diff).

      We think of the heating as normal because we have been heating our living and working spaces much longer than we have been cooling them.

      "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

      by Kevskos on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:36:19 PM PDT

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      •  Agree - but water is often part of electric supply (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, samddobermann, ColoTim

        At least I've heard recently that some hydro-electric plants in the southwest may be in jeopardy as the water levels fall in their reservoirs.  When the water gets below a certain level, they are not able to produce electricity.

        And our bigger problem is that all this comfort allows us to escape and enjoy ourselves, possibly too much to recognize or take necessary action.

        Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

        by CindyV on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 10:01:47 AM PDT

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      •  Heating vs. Cooling efficiency (0+ / 0-)

        Theoretically, it takes the same amount of energy to heat a house as to cool it, but air conditioning uses electrical energy, which is much less efficient.

        Heating at its simplest usually involves one energy transformation: Chemical energy of the fuel converted directly to heat.

        Electricity production requires several conversions: chemical or nuclear energy to heat, heat energy to mechanical energy to drive a turbine to generate electrical energy, the electrical energy is then changed back to mechanical energy to run an air conditioner, which transfers thermal energy (heat) back to the environment. (You can eliminate one conversion if you generate electricity by hydro)

        There are losses with each conversion: wasted heat through the smokestack or cooling tower, friction, electrical losses in the transmission system, and finally, mechanical losses in the air conditioner. The whole system is about 50% efficient after all the energy losses.

        Air conditioning works by transferring the heat from the building into the environment, making it hotter outside, which requires more energy to keep the inside of the building cool... and the cycle starts over again.

        The entire process depends on cheap energy, which we are running out of. Hydro relies on a large, local water source.  Nuclear has proven to be extremely dangerous, wind, solar etc. are still in the science project stage, not nearly enough to power large cities, especially in the middle of the desert.

        "The long memory is the most radical idea in this country." Utah Phillips 1935 - 2008

        by Grey Fedora on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:10:21 PM PDT

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    •  Eight years ago we moved from an arid costal (8+ / 0-)

      area, aka San Diego County, to the high desert around Prescott AZ. I lived in SoCal for over fifty years and so was lulled in to the false impression that it was "tropical" (in reality its a subtropical coastal "desert") and is only supported by the liberal application of imported water. This has created a false sense of an oasis that was represented as being endless, think Chamber of Commerce. I was also guilty of participating in the illusion of an endless water supply by cultivating a tropical garden without a lawn but lots of high water demand non-native species.

      Moving to AZ was an eye opener, we are truly reliant on ground water and some what on captured rain and snow fall. The rural land we purchased is supplied by a private well, we are very lucky. "Our" aquifer for now is more than adequate, but not so much if you drive into the nearest town. The residents there are having to drill new wells not always with success. The geology varies within short distances and is composed either of granite, sandstone or volcanic rock. We are fortunate that the strata (sandstone) that we tap into has excellent water. If you go into the town of Chino Valley (approx. 6 miles west) they were drawing water that has a rising level of Arsenic which forces them to truck their water in and store it in tanks. What little landscape we have is mostly shade trees and shrubbery to create wind barriers. The plant materials available are either native or originated in a similar environment.

      The illusion/delusion of unending resources in the our part of the southwest hasn't effected growth yet and soon (relative) the area will not support the population. Unfortunately, the County of Yavapai is not adequately addressing the issue.

      “Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” :: Buddha's Wisdom-The Dhammapada ::

      by Sam Sara on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 08:00:56 AM PDT

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      •  Yes, so true (6+ / 0-)

        My Dad lived most of his life in San Diego area.  He was aware that it was really a desert, but that didn't change the choices he made (large lawn) nor cause him to support conservation.  San Diego county has thrived by using imported water.  Recently I was on a plane next to an engineer looking into desalinization treatment for San Diego.  Don't know where that stands, but he thought it was a necessary step for So Cal.  It may be the future, there.

        Your information on Prescott area is very interesting.  I now live in the Phoenix area where water clearly comes from many outside sources.  But there is very little said or done in support of water conservation even while Los Angeles is rationing water.  (I've tried to create a low-water use home with desert landscaping and trees for shade, but still feel it isn't enough.)

        The sad part is that we're all so comfortable in our bubbles that it is hard to rouse us to action.  And many people just don't clearly see what's outside their bubble.

        Understanding is limited by perspective. Perspective is limited by experience. America is a great place to live but it limits our ability to understand.

        by CindyV on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 09:56:37 AM PDT

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        •  The Southern California coast has the Pacific (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sam Sara, Only Needs a Beat

          We're going to have to desalinate, but at least we have that option.  Inland places like Las Vegas do not.  

          Really, Las Vegas should not even exist.  In the summer the place is a complete hell hole.  I don't even know why people are willing to live there at all.  Just passing through in the summer is terrible, let alone staying for a few days.  

          •  There was a experimental desalinization plant (0+ / 0-)

            at the base of the cliffs in Point Loma (part os San Diego) the the Navy built. It was their for a while and then shipped to Gitmo. Everybody at that time (late sixties or seventies, not sure now) had the same react what's a Gitmo...simple more innocent time...well compared to naw anyway.

            “Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” :: Buddha's Wisdom-The Dhammapada ::

            by Sam Sara on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 01:53:28 PM PDT

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            •  Spelling d'oh, can't find my freaking glasses... (0+ / 0-)

              “Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” :: Buddha's Wisdom-The Dhammapada ::

              by Sam Sara on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 01:54:50 PM PDT

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        •  So true, I don't think most people want to know (0+ / 0-)

          how bad it has become. Part and parcel of Global Warming denial.

          “Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” :: Buddha's Wisdom-The Dhammapada ::

          by Sam Sara on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 01:47:34 PM PDT

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      •  Tour around Scottsdale ... (0+ / 0-)

        I never seen so much Blue and Bent grass ... even when I lived in KY - NTM the Ash, Locust, Elm, etc.

        This was the subdivisions, the resorts were another matter.

        Massive sprinklers going off at 6 AM, (and around 80 degrees) - more humidity than Ft Lauderdale in the morning.

        All for the "snowbirds" who only stay a few months out of the year.

        “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

        by RUNDOWN on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 07:11:21 PM PDT

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