Earth Science

How Water Ignorance Has Changed the World

It is possible to change the world. You can start out with a landscape in which the strategies of plants to capture water, air pressure, gravity and evaporation join to stop water in its tracks, or at least to slow it so that the low atmospheric pressures of the winter sustain plants in the high pressures of the summer when water enters the air and vanishes. You can, though, change all that. It takes a bit of time, and a lot of money. You can see this process in action in the image below. This is a vineyard in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia in the winter. There should be snow at this time of year, but it melted and won’t come back for a week. Take a look.

P1600529Now, here’s that image again, with notes, to help you see its water story. First, the winter story. Note how the removal of water-holding plants (matching the pressure of the air) to create a vineyard creates a system of water loss through gravity.


hold Now, imagine that in the summer. The situation is a little different. (I use the winter image for consistency. Imagine leaves!)


And that’s the trick. A science of water will create this story if it tracks water flows without figuring in green water (trapped in plants and passed on between them), water retention, the microbiological (moss, fungus, bacterial) skin on the earth, which acts as a gas transfer agent (like a human lung), and the shifting of water movement from high to low pressure periods of the year. Weeds that it encourages, include this invasive grass, which retains water only through thatching, reducing the complexity of life forms able to live on this land or from it.P1600305

Here’s some native bunchgrass, which can defy gravity and manipulate air pressure across seasons, fighting it out with some cheatgrass, which has replaced the microbial crust. The bunchgrass isn’t exactly thriving, but it has formed a truce with the cheatgrass. However, there isn’t room for other species. This is it.
P1600319In comparison, bunchgrass can do this:


It stops water from flowing, then moves it slowly, so that it can be absorbed.




P1600479Because of inappropriate science, this landscape is being replaced with this:


Here, let me annotate that.



One native plant trying to heal the broken soil, amidst colonies of  weeds that have reclaimed over-grazed and broken land in the model of the scientific culture that overgrazed it and broke it out of its ignorance. After this, the landscape does fit the hydrological model … but with a loss of most of its productivity. Pitiful.

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