Red-baiting water speculator plans to drain the Mojave of its ancient water

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I will sell them 814 gallons of water for $1 mil.


I’m in the wrong business!

Seriously though, that’s 814 billion gallons of ancient water, putting the planned unit price at a bit less than a third of a cent per gallon—not 3 million dollars per gallon.

Edit: Post now says 814 million gallons. Six orders of magnitude down, three to go…?


Greed & H2o go very well together here in Southern California.


So this guy sees a need, finds a way to fill that need, and that’s wrong? That’s business. What, is he just supposed to give it away? It’s going to cost him a lot of money to obtain that water and transport it. What exactly is the problem with this?

Right there. A guy “filling his needs” without any oversight, regulation, or morality. That’s the problem. It usually is.


Because the water he is sucking up doesn’t lie just beneath his land – it will be sucked up from other land, as well.

Also: it’s pretty old. The water in that area of land (down low) takes a loooooooong time to replenish. Not on the order of a couple of decades, we’re talking tens if not hundreds of thousands of years.

He’s right – our laws do allow you to do that. And our laws are short-sighted. I’m curious if there are laws on the books that would allow you to core out your land to the borders down a mile or two – as long as the periphery were shored up (by some sort of currently-impossible technology).

that’s not use – that’s destruction of land: real estate that is supposed to be handed down to future generations and passed around transactionally. Unreal estate can be junked or burned or destroyed – it’s transient.


Just as I think I’m starting to have a vague insight into US culture, things like this remind me (Euro first, Brit second) that it’s utterly, utterly alien…


From the ecological/sustainability side, perhaps the problem is that the laws do allow this.

From an economics standpoint, it seems this guy would be charging slightly less per gallon than most families in California are being charged for tap water. That’s hardly “soaking” the customer.


“IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE!!!”, he shouted, emerging from the basement with another bucket. “And it’ll work too, as long as those meddling kids stay away…”


You may want to read up on the topic of WATER in California before saying something that ridiculous.


He’s lowering the water table for everyone around him, substantially. It will place a strain on his neighbours, nature and regional water management. Since you subscribe to the “That’s Business” justification of wrongdoing, you can recognize the “strain” as “money”.

“Money” that will have to come from somewhere, probably you in the end, and everybody else. Particularly in the form of taxes, more of which will be needed to maintain services thanks to this person’s profit motive that allows them to steal by gaming a system.

He is stating that he has purchased the “right” to do something that is clearly wrong, and that it makes it okay, because to him the only arbiter of behaviour is law. He’s a sociopath, criminally insane. Just as is anyone who allows profit motive to overrule any other consideration.


We need to resurrect John Huston to play this guy when a movie is made about him.


You’ve also conflated “need” with “demand” here. These are not the same thing. In relation to scarce resource, particularly those that do literally represent a universal “need” as water does, demand and need differ vastly.

If he had found a way to provide water conservation he would have found a way to provide a need and a demand.

As he is only concerning himself with the demand of his market, while totally dis-avowing any responsibility to the needs of same and also to the needs of the populations where he is extracting resources, to answer your question, yes, it is wrong.

Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand that things that are allowed are wrong, particularly in relation to resource extraction. When someone else’s profit motive in resource extraction is clearly going to leave someone else in a lurch, whether immediately or down the road a generation or two, they might think it’s okay, because the person broke no laws.

Imagine a machine that was somehow able to allow time travel, that was horrendously expensive, but allowed people that could afford it to live longer by extracting stem cells from the bones of newborn babies in the future in a process which kills the newborn.

Technically those babies don’t exist and have no rights in our time and they won’t exist because they’re being killed now, so also have no rights in the future even though they are also being killed there, because the future can’t prevent it. (insert whatever particular timeline sci-fi explanation you currently favour here). The machine allows the extraction to occur if the user can afford it and no laws are broken.

So the obvious solution is to change the laws, right? Yes.

But the point of the exercise is to learn whether you believe that because it is legal, is it also right by your standards of morality to reach forward in time and stab newborns to death, if by doing so you can turn a profit?

Because that’s what irresponsible resource extraction is doing.


I’ll just post this here: negative externality.


If he took the water from my home, which would involve some measure of expense, would you still not see a problem?

The days of exterminating the natives to lay personal claim to the resources of the land are over. That water cannot be purloined for individual profit just because some guy figured out how to do it. And will he pay for the costs down the road that are incurred by draining that ancient aquifer? Or even any damage to the environment caused by his profit-making?


Perhaps not criminally insane – the unfortunate body of law* seems to be on his side. Morally or ethically insane, perhaps.

* “oh, if only our laws were simpler!” somebody cries out, unaware of the irony.


The article doesn’t seem to cover the fact that he’s taking from other people. From what I gather he’s pumping water from below a desert and it’s a water source that’s not currently tapped and he owns the rights to. The article merely states that there are people upset with this plan, but doesn’t provide any details as to how they will suffer from this. In short, if there’s a real problem with this plan, then this article did a piss-poor job explaining it.

But I don’t see any reason to get upset because living in California is so stupid. There’s too much demand for housing and scarce resources there. It drives the cost of everything up, then people whine like they deserve to have it all for nothing.

Red-baiting? He did say the word communist once, I’m not sure that alone makes one eligible for membership in the John Birch Society.

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It was covered in my grade-school, but perhaps they’ve dropped basic geography and geology from the curriculum since then. You see, there are these things called “aquifers” and they collect water that seeps through the bedrock – from miles and miles and miles around. Here’s an example: fill a bowl full of stones; now fill it full of water; now take one of the stones out: the water will flow in from the surrounding area to fill the void.Let’s say that your friend Bob buys a particular stone. He takes it out - since he own it, and sucks out the water that is now in place of that stone. Oooh, there’s more water there, now! So he sucks out some more… and more… and more… and when Betty and Patrice say “hey, what about our stones” there’s no more water left and Bob says “what are you, communist terrorists!!!”