Tuesdays With George Thatcher. Raiderland’s Resident American Bad-Ass – “Are We Running Out Of…Everything? Thoughts On Agri-Food And More. Lots More.”

As always, George’s thoughts, writings, opinions and musings are his own. They don’t necessarily reflect those of Raiderland, our editors, advertisers or folks on the street. But he thinks they should!

Agri-Food for Thought

Do you ever get the feeling that the walls are closing in on you, that there’s no escape from the world’s increasingly difficult challenges, that “they” aren’t doing enough to make things right for us?  Well don’t feel like you’re alone.  If “they” really ARE after you, then it isn’t paranoia at all.  It’s a sign of the times, and we all share in the misery, to some extent.  

The world’s troubles it would appear, are only just getting warmed up (as in “global”).  All the predictions made by those fear-mongering, whackoid scientists from a generation ago, are beginning to come true.  What did you used to say when global warming , or climate change, was offered as a real threat to our future well-being?  Did you outright reject their crazy theories or reply that we’re just in another global weather cycle?  Did you accept the premise that God will provide, as He always has done, and that all problems can be solved by faith?  Were you convinced that the world’s resources were nothing more than a commodity, a crop to be harvested, and that natural regeneration would take care of the problems of scarcity?

Well don’t look now, especially if your heads are in the sand.  The miracle of nature’s never-ending abundance is now turning into a nightmare of our own making.  The bounty which is now becoming acute shortage, is now evident in a number of critical ways, and I do mean potentially life endangering. Having picked the low-lying fruit, we are now beginning to find that scarce resources are becoming more difficult to extract, mine, or harvest.  We have only scratched the surface of global shortages, but it is plain to see that the imbalance of distribution of the world’s resources is now a fact of our existence.

To cite one salient example, the country of Ukraine has been known as “Europe’s breadbasket” because of its huge production of grains.  Millions of tons of this resource have been exported annually to feed countries in Africa, where once-abundant farmland has now been decertified, partly due to centuries of misrule and resultant uneven distribution.  Millions of Africans now depend on these grain exports for survival, but look what has happened this year.  Russia has placed an embargo on the grains that Ukraine once exported freely.  What this could mean is that Russia is now holding Africa as hostage, only to be alleviated by an outcome in their favor to the current war.  You may say that this creates n artificial shortage, but there’s so much of the same happening with oil exports and other commodities.  What nature has created, in terms of shortages, is now being exploited by autocrats.

Another looming shortage in this country, which portends disaster to the farming and ranch communities, is the uncomfortable fact that we are running out of water, due mainly to climate change, but also to unwise usages.  A gigantic irony in all of this, is that the world is now hemorrhaging water from the polar regions.  Millions of gallons of water daily are now leaking from the world’s glaciers and icepacks on a daily basic, contributing to rising sea levels and warming of the oceans, as well as further climate increases.  The world’s iceboxes are now in the process of turning the poles into tomorrow’s mud flats. The consequences to our various industries are beginning to produce a “domino effect,” where we are beginning to learn the harsh lessons of interdependence.  Anyone who claims to be an isolationist, in the face of the onrushing catastrophe, is we’ll-advised to look outside of their rigid thinking.  If it was never evident before, we are now confronting the uncomfortable fact of our global interdependence. 

California, while proud of her lush, productive farmlands, is now facing the water crisis at the operational level.  That is, many vegetable growers are being forced to let swaths of their land lie fallow, because of the lack of irrigation water.  This, of course, will have a direct impact on our prices at the grocery store.  But, you may be thinking, look at the incredible winter they’ve just had, and look at all the rains that have just fallen from the effects of their hurricane.  Well, yes, all of that is helpful.  But look at the resulting floods, where most of that water becomes runoff that can’t be captures by rivers and dams.  Lake Mead, at its lowest level since it was filled in the 1930’s, would need about fifty years of the 2022 winter snows in order to regenerate into its “normal” levels.

Locally, we are blessed with a water commission that foresightedly planned for fifty years’ or more of county’s growth needs.  We now have Lake Alan Henry, with a sister dam being built nearby.  We have a North Lubbock chain of Canyon lakes in the process of being developed for future use.  They will create the potential for great recreational activities, plus a reserve of drinking water as the needs arise.  But there’s no need to become complacent, as the problem of farmland water supply is still a great peril to the South Plains’ farm economy.  The Ogalala aquifer has diminished to dramatically low levels, threatening the very existence of our local economic base.  There is no technology currently available to recharge the aquifer.  As with California,, it would make fifty years of generous rains to bring it back to normal levels.

So what to do?  You brainiacs, with all your technology skills, will have to really become creative.  Are you going to devise a system of water pipes leading from the Great Lakes and Tennessee Valley Authority, to keep us in the game as a viable agri-community?  Can we do enough desalinization around the country to ensure the survival of our desert-based cities?  Or are we going to trust in Providence for the solution to our problems, while we continue to build golf courses?  Any way it’s viewed, future generations are going to pay a heavy price for our careless squandering of nature’s bounty.  Hang on, you of the younger generations; the price of poker is about to skyrocket.  And you’re holding a pretty shaky hand.

George Thatcher

August 2023

George is an American Bad Ass. He grew up in Jersey, flew B-52s in Vietnam, taught English, Spanish and other languages to children around the world, makes his own salsa, has been known to enjoy a beer or two and has called Lubbock home for a few years, just to entertain the locals. Welcome to Raiderland, Major. We are going to feature some of his writings going forward. Some new, some old. Some rhyme, some don’t. When it comes to George, there’s no box. So… enjoy our friend and enjoy his writings! – Hyatt

1 Comment

  1. Maybe also a shortage of understanding that weather patterns may change but that man has nothing to do with it. And maybe also, a shortage of understanding of theology, that God didn’t promise us a rose garden. But definitely a shortage of faith in God, absolutely.

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