A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of running into a friend from Sundance. He and I share a passion for awesome skiing and snowboarding. What we both understand is that when the weather isn’t cutting it, the glorious Rocky Mountains yield not just poor powder conditions but a miserable water supply.
Since 1980, the snow level in Colorado – my home state – has consistently been lacking. By the early 90s, almost all of the major resorts sub-combed to “Cloud Seeding” or most obvious – massive snow making efforts. The state not only recognized that without international travelers or locals ready to pile into their cars for 4 hours of average drive time to and from the slopes, a major economic resource would be lost. Snow making and other technologies were allowed and skier visits blossomed. Real estate development flourished and jobs became plentiful.
This New Year’s I had the fortune of being up in Aspen. A five day ski vacation became, while enjoyable, a 2 day “avoid rocks on skis and snowboards fest” and 3 days of Apres recovery. For those who do not know, January should be well packed with a rock free snow base – not bushes piercing through the ski’s base.
The technology innovation that was meant to solve a lack of snow base somehow didn’t matter. No amount of technology was going to yield a snowfall that was going to justify enticing mother nature to comply with my vacation – or that of the eager high net worth travelers to Colorado’s slopes let alone Aspen’s. This post was actually kindled by the fact that on a different visit to the western slope, as I drove back from Aspen to Denver, Lake Dillon was barer than I have ever witnessed. This is one of Denver’s main water reservoirs. And it is like this across the West.
And there lies the problem. Americans pursuit for the holy grail on energy is not going to come soon enough to meet the domestic supply needs for our unwavering demand for energy. Domestically we do have natural resources to fuel not just us but a large part of the world for some time. And the marvels of technology will constantly improve our ability to stretch one last ounce, btu or kwh out of our resources. When they are gone though, when they are corrupted by overzealous and foolish short term steps to maximize returns today, we are left to be dependent on the unknown. Water not gas is the element life depends on. Wasting water for oil, for scrubbing, fracking, or filtering in the livestocks and neighbors backyards is a foolish use of a resource. In economics it is referred to as “A MISALLOCATION OF RESOURCES.”
Where we go from here:
Quite simply – we have to change habits not just resources. American’s can quickly adjust to floods. It’s as easy to stop consuming something that corrupts your way of life for an efficient alternative. Electricity generated from renewables is utopian today but not in 10 years. As we wait for over-subsidized industries – yes big oil is one – we can shift our buying habits now. And this can happen with just a quick snap of our fingers. This can happen without America’s politburo called Congress.
Take the online grocery store, gallery, or perhaps best known shoe stores as a lead example. When ordering from Zappos.com, you have the ability to pick a group of shoes (and now clothes) in your size and within 2 days have your newest shoes on with the clothes that you otherwise would have had to guess about. While you waited in the comfort of your home, you cut out: the approximate 20 minute commute, the possible insurance claim for the bumper bending accident in the mall’s parking lot, the blinking gas empty fuel gauge light on your dashboard and the possibility that you couldn’t find what you were looking for in the first place. True you would not have purchased or needed to rely on insurance, gas, a public traffic infrastructure or the autobody repair by not stepping into your car. You would have jogged to the gym, walked to the grocery store, read this or other inspiring articles or even simply have driven to meet some friends for a better social experience.
Your contribution to the economy would have been consuming from an efficient, market oriented source rather than wasting a precious resource – time. America should not tolerate politicians – red or blue – who waste your time. Citizens have a moral duty to become educated about how best to optimize their efforts. For those who do not – your choices were yours and yours alone. Those who find that applying money to employing the supply chain of FedEx, UPS, Nike, Coach, Hugo Boss, or even To Boot New York, should equally revel in the fact that their way of life will become simplified. This is not an argument to do without – on the contrary. Consume wisely and markets will lead politicians into choices that are irrefutable.
When water is ignitable, when the sky is black (or pink) and farm land is barren from over farming and drought, pork belly projects like Ethanol will easily find their way to the landfill near your congressional leaders biggest foe’s district – a fight that too could have been avoided by simply pressing send vs. print.