Creating a Sustainable Economy and
Future On Our Planet
The San Diego/Tijuana Region
A Case Study
March 20, 2007
www.jimbell.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
If our scientists are correct, the human family has
been around for some 150,000 generations,
assuming each generation is 33 years.
Let our generation lay the groundwork to ensure that
the next 150,000 generations have a healthy
planetary life support system to sustain them in their
The Way I See It
If the human family is to prosper in the future, we've got to stop hurting each other and our
planet's life support system. Anyone paying attention knows that the human family is hurting
itself and is seriously disrupting, if not destroying, its own planetary life support system.
What should we do? What I'm doing is learning as much as I can about how our planet's life
support system works and how we can work together to develop a sustainable economy and
way of life for ourselves, our children and future generations.
My goal is to use this knowledge to raise the general level of consciousness, happiness and
sustainability where I live and ultimately, planet-wide. If enough of us do the same, the world
will be a happy place for everyone, now and for future generations. Ultimately, it's all about
consciousness. If enough of us become conscious enough, soon enough, all good is possible.
Permission to Reproduce this Book
This book is FREE to anyone in the world to read on line and print out if they have a printer. To
read or print out FREE copies go to www.jimbell.com, then click "Jim's New Book" then on
"print whole book." The book prints out as 50 pages including cover. For dial up,
To print the book out in sections, go to www.jimbell.com and click on "Jim's New Book" then on
the books title. The book is broken up into 8 sections which can be printed separately by
clicking on the section you want in the Table of Contents. Please forward these offers to anyone
you feel would be interested.
I encourage people to mass-produce this book as written or as a translation, I'll be happy to
work with you to produce, translate or adapt the book to make it more relevant to non-western
cultures. If you produce the book in mass to sell, please keep the price as low as possible and
still cover your costs.
My vision is that once any region or country develops a life-support sustaining economy or
seriously moves forward to create one, the result will be so attractive economically,
environmentally and in other ways, the whole world will want to develop their own regional and
national life-support sustaining economies.
Peace and love, Jim
This publication is a project of the Ecological Life Systems Institute (ELSI). If you would like to
support this work and other ELSI Projects, please call Jim at 619 758-9020 or contact Jim at
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Copyright © Jim Bell 2005. All rights reserved.
The hard copy of this book is printed on 50% pre-consumer and 15% post-consumer content
paper. The ink is soy based and the published version has the union "bug".
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. The Way I See It
2. Permission to Reproduce
3. Table of Contents and Acknowledgments
4. Part One: Vulnerability by Design?
7. Part Two: Developing a Plan
7. Where is it appropriate to do what on the land?
8. How do we do the what once the correct location for it is determined?
24. Part Three: The San Diego/Tijuana Region, A Vision of a Sustainable Future
28. After word
47. About the Author
48. Dear Reader
10. Energy Self-sufficiency in the San Diego/Tijuana Region Land Area Perspective
17. Investor Profit/Payback on Investment Cycle
42. Mapping for Sustainability in the San Diego/Tijuana Region
Thanks to Derek and Nancy Casady for their valuable suggestions and comments during the
process of writing this document and especially Derek Casady and Jean Costa for their
meticulous help in editing. A special thanks to Heather Honea, Alan Gin
and Ryon Layser for their work on developing the spreadsheet and graph, and to Rosalyn
Stevenson for the book's hard copy layout and Chris Kline for the book's web version. Thanks
also to Michael Gelfand, Cassia Rodrigues, Sandra Wawrytko, Rebecca Margolis, Lester and
Leone Hayes, Matt Stadsklev, Sicco Rood, John Atkinson, Robert Ocegueda, Peter
MacLaggan, Patrick Abbot, Ann Marie Harmony, Nadia Amer, Bill Rolley, Skip Fralick, Michael
Williams, Jose Maldonado, Mary Clark, Jodie Beebe, Sicco Rood, Bonny Hough, Kevin
Falconer, Brian Weintraub and Allied Sun Technologies, Charles Wei-hsun Fu Foundation,
Lenny Cooper Foundation, Heather and Rick Redman, Judy Seid, Bill Powers, Rebecca
Neary, Janet and Jake Umlauf, Barbara Rosenbaum, the International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers, the bands Psydecar, Able Minded Poets, Kuumba Dawa, Vegitation, the B-
Side Players, Winston's Night Club, Kava Lounge, and Thomascreative.
Creating A Sustainable Economy and Future
On Our Planet Beginning with the
San Diego/Tijuana Region
Note: Although the analysis presented here focuses on the San Diego/Tijuana region, the principles it is
based on can be applied to any region or country on our planet.
Part one describes how the region and its economy are vulnerable. The threats discussed range from
intentional attacks on key infrastructure elements like aqueducts, electric transmission lines, natural gas
and oil pipelines, power plants, freeway overpasses and railroad trestles, to natural y caused
infrastructure damage due to earthquakes, floods and severe weather. Additional y, Part One examines
how infrastructure attacks and natural phenomena would impact the flow of basic resources like
energy, water and food into the region. Also discussed is how the region is vulnerable economically,
from a purely business-as-usual perspective, even if the threats to its security, just discussed, never
Part two introduces a comprehensive plan designed to strengthen the region's economy while making it
and the communities that it comprises less vulnerable to the threats described in part one. For
example, if floodplains, which are vulnerable to flood and earthquake damage, are not developed, the
public at large won't have to bear the economic burden of floodplain clean-ups, lawsuits, etc, when
floods and earthquakes occur. Similarly, if the region becomes energy self-sufficient through efficiency
improvements and renewable energy development, it would not be economically vulnerable to the cost
and supply uncertainties associated with continuing its dependence on imported energy. Currently the
San Diego/Tijuana region imports 98 percent of its energy and exports $6 billion a year to pay for it.
Add water and food, we export $20 billion a year out of our regional economy.
Part Three is an exploration of the future. It answers the question: If the San Diego/Tijuana region were
well on its way to becoming a sustainable economy, what would living in the region be like?
The goal of creating a life-support sustaining economy and way of life is to improve the common good
now and for future generations. With this in mind and heart, I submit the following:
Part One: Vulnerability by Design?
Even if it had been planned intentionally, it would be difficult to create a regional economy that is less
sustainable and more vulnerable than ours. * As it is currently configured, the region's infrastructure
could be seriously damaged by a smal group of people or even an individual. Power lines, oil pipelines,
natural gas pipelines, freeway overpasses, railroad trestles, aqueducts, and dams are all vulnerable to
simple explosives that can be homemade or stolen from mining or construction projects. (1)
Water stored in open reservoirs can be easily contaminated by dropping something into them from a
plane or boat or by contaminating upstream watersheds. Power lines can be knocked out with hunting
* "Ours" Since I live in the San Diego/Tijuana region I will use phrases like "our region" or
"our economy" to make my points more efficiently.
If a terrorist attack were well orchestrated, the region's infrastructure could be damaged so severely
that the flow of energy, water and food to the region, for all practical purposes, would be cut off. The
loss of key freeway overpasses and rail lines would also make it difficult for people to leave the region
to obtain these necessities.
The region's dependence on imported oil makes it vulnerable to political changes, terrorism and war in
the countries from which it imports oil. Just the fear of reduced oil imports can affect the regional
economy by causing oil and other energy prices to rise. Whenever there is conflict in an oil-producing
nation oil prices rise. During the 1991 Gulf War, oil prices on the world market almost doubled and
energy costs in general went up even though there was never any real oil shortage. With the current
Middle East war and political unrest in countries like Nigeria and Venezuela, similar energy price
dynamics are coming into play. If shortages were to become real, the impact on our regional economy
would be doubly traumatic. Present moves to increase our region's dependency on imported natural
gas will carry similar liabilities.
Another threat is criminal activity to manipulate the supply and price of imported energy. During the
recent California energy crisis, the average San Diego County household and business was robbed to
the tune of $500 per household and $4,000 per average business above what the energy would have
cost if supply manipulation had not occurred. (2)
The Mexican part of the region is slightly less vulnerable to events in other countries that affect the
supply and price of oil in the world market. Unlike the U.S., Mexico currently pumps enough oil out of
the ground to meet its domestic demand. Nevertheless, Mexico's economic wel being is affected by the
supply and price of oil on the world market.
Beyond the threat of intentional human acts, the region's key infrastructural elements are also
vulnerable to earthquakes. Geologists estimated in the 1960s that there was a high probability that the
Tijuana/San Diego region would experience a serious earthquake sometime in the next 30 years.
Based on this data the region is overdue for a quake. (3)
Additionally, the region's vulnerability to earthquake damage has been aggravated because of
extensive development on val ey floors that overlay alluvial deposits. Structures built on al uvial
deposits are more vulnerable to earthquake damage than structures built on most other geological
formations. Alluvial deposits are composed of sand and groundwater that tend to liquefy if shaken. This
well-known phenomenon is cal ed liquefaction. Since areas subject to liquefaction usual y lie in
floodplains, these areas are also vulnerable to flooding from excessive rainfall or the loss of upstream
dams during earthquakes.
Obviously, if any of the possibilities discussed above occurred singly or in concert, the region's
economy would be seriously damaged. The cleanup and repair costs associated with a serious
earthquake or flood, or both, where valley floors have been developed, could be a billion dollars or
more. Even if damages are insured, the economic impact would be devastating. Insurance never
covers everything, and when faced with catastrophic losses, insurance companies have gone broke. To
avoid going under, insurance companies would almost certainly raise rates in general. (4) To the
degree these losses were not covered by insurance, the taxes we pay, federal, state, and local would
be tapped. Whatever the case, we end up footing the bills.
Even if we could be guaranteed that earthquakes, floods, terrorism, price manipulation or restrictions or
cutoffs of essentials like energy, water and food would never occur, the region's economy is still quite
vulnerable from a purely business-as-usual perspective.
There are three principal ways that dollars come into our region from exports, from federal and state
governments and from tourism and new residents and businesses moving to the region. All three
of these sources are shaky on both sides of the border,
Exports: Although the region's economy has a substantial export sector, it has historical y run a trade
(cash-flow) deficit. This is because what people around the world pay for its exports is less than what
we pay for what we import.
The region's nearly total dependence on imported necessities like water, food and energy aggravates
our region's trade deficit. Currently we export $20 billion a year to pay for the importation of 98 percent
of our energy and 90 percent of our water and food. (5)
Even in good times, this $20 billion annual trade or cash flow deficit represents a strain on our region's
economic health. During tough economic times the strain can be quite serious. This is because when
economic times are tight, it's easier for people living outside our region to cut back on purchasing the
things that we produce and export than it is for us to curtail our purchase of imported necessities like
water, food and energy.
In other words, during broad national and global economic slowdowns, the rate that money flows into
our region slows down faster than the flow of dollars leaving it. The longer this continues, the more
cash starved the local economy becomes. As dollars become scarce, local business suffers, and
economic activity is stifled in general.
The more energy, water and food self-sufficient we become, the more the $20 bil ion we now export
each year can be kept in our regional economy. If all $20 billion were kept, economic activity in our
region could potentially double, benefiting everyone's bottom line. Plus, and let me stress this: We
would greatly increase our security by taking control of our energy, water and food future.
Federal and State Funding: Changes in policy by the central governments on both sides of the border
can severely reduce the amount of cash coming into the region. As federal and state deficits grow,
there will be even more pressure to reduce the flow of federal and state dol ars to counties and cities.
Currently, San Diego County and its cities are scrambling to maintain public services in the face of their
own mounting deficits and serious state and federal cutbacks. In general, central and state
governments in both countries are in serious debt and looking hard for ways to cut costs. This will be
true for some time even under the most optimistic scenario.
Tourism, new residents and new businesses: Tourists spend money when they visit and new
residents and new businesses bring assets with them. Like trade, the amount of dollars brought into the
region by these sources is vulnerable to broad national and global economic slowdowns. Since we now
import most of our energy, water and food, most of what tourists, residents and businesses pay for
these necessities leaves our local economy too. (6)
Plus, there are many who live in our region who feel that we already have more than enough residents
and that promoting tourism only encourages more people to move here.
The economy is also vulnerable ecologically.
In addition to being almost totally dependent on the use of imported, nonrenewable energy, water and
food resources, it uses renewable resources in ways that make them nonrenewable or difficult to
renew. The region's rapidly filling landfills are graphic testimony to this fact. To replace what we bury,
our region and planet are being scoured for a rapidly shrinking supply of virgin resources largely being
exploited in non-sustainable ways. Similarly, the region's agricultural and forest soils are being used in
ways that cause them to erode more rapidly than they can be renewed. These soils are also being used
up by urban sprawl. Nationally, at least one million acres of prime agricultural soil are being converted
into shopping malls, housing projects and roads each year. (7) Practices in our region continue to
reflect this trend. Focusing on the car, for every 5 cars added to the U.S. fleet, an area the size of a
footbal field is covered with asphalt. (8) More often than not, cropland is paved because it is flat and
well drained. Flat land is easier and cheaper to develop and with development come roads and parking.
Regional groundwater, an important element in a more water-secure future, is being contaminated with
pesticides and other domestic and industrial poisons. Additionally, ill advised development and other
non-sustainable uses of our region's forests, grasslands and valleys are reducing groundwater
recharge rates. Unhealthy watersheds absorb less rainfal . Buildings, asphalt and concrete absorb
In short, our region's economic practices are undercutting the ecological resource foundation that
makes the creation of a sustainable future possible. As our ecological resource base shrinks, the
region's sustainable economic options shrink with it.
Obviously, the picture just painted is not very pretty, but is the current state of increasing regional
vulnerability inevitable? Absolutely not! In fact we already have all the technologies and strategies
necessary to preserve and strengthen our planet's life support system and to create a strong, vibrant,
sustainable economy and future at home and abroad.
Part Two: Developing A Plan
If our goal is to create a sustainable economy in any region or country on our planet, there are two
fundamental questions that need to be answered.
Where is it appropriate to do what on the land?
How do we do the "what" once we've determined the "where"?
Expanding on the "Where is it appropriate to do what on the land?" question first: What areas, like
floodplains and along earthquake faults should not be developed? Floodplains flood and are
subject to liquefaction during earthquakes. On average, the closer development is to an earthquake
fault, the more severe the damage will be when an earthquake occurs. In both cases, development in
these areas endangers public safety and constitutes a tax revenue black hole for every taxpayer.
What land should be set aside for wildlife habitat? Healthy wildlife habitats and their connecting
corridors are essential to watershed health and groundwater recharge. Healthy watersheds reduce
flooding, protect against soil erosion and maximize the absorption of rainwater runoff by soils and thus
the recharge of our region's groundwater storage basins.
What land should be set aside for growing food? Given that global population is still growing and
agricultural soils are declining, it's only prudent that we set aside our most fertile soils for growing food.
Having sufficient agricultural soils in use for farming or in reserve gives us insurance against the
reduced flow or cutoff of imported food. Fortunately, the San Diego/Tijuana region is rich in agricultural
Where are the best places to locate intense human activities? Broadly speaking, intense centers
of human activity like cities and towns should be located on land not in floodplains, vital habitats or on
our best agricultural soils.
For a more detailed look at how answering the above questions correctly would look and function, see:
Mapping for Sustainability pp. 42-45.
How Do We Do The "What"?
Now that we've answered, at least in a general sense, the "WHERE TO DO WHAT?" question, let's
focus on the "HOW DO WE DO THE WHAT?" question.
How do we ensure ourselves a secure, plentiful and affordable energy supply? Our region's only
secure energy supply is solar energy in its various forms, (direct solar, solar electric, wind, biomass,
ocean currents, etc.) Therefore any energy security solution for the region has to be based on
renewable energy. In the shaky world of today, any energy future based on importing nonrenewable
resources only serves to maintain our region's current energy vulnerability.
Fortunately, our region is so rich in renewable energy resources it can easily supply all its energy needs
and could even be a large energy exporter. Eighteen percent coverage of our existing roofs and parking
lots with solar panels would produce enough energy to make San Diego County completely energy self-
sufficient, keeping the $6 billion we now export to pay for the energy we now import, in our County's
economy. Covering thirty-six percent of these surfaces would make us a large energy exporter, adding
another $6 billion to our local economy each year.
How do we ensure ourselves a secure, plentiful and affordable supply of water? Unlike
renewable energy resources and agricultural soils, both plentiful in our study region, freshwater
resources are not. Nevertheless, our study region can become water self-sufficient if an integrated
water collection, storage, use and reuse strategy is developed. Plus, with our abundant renewable
energy resources, seawater can be converted to freshwater to make up shortfalls. All the freshwater
(600,000 acre ft.) now used in San Diego County each year can be supplied by using the electricity
produced by 8.3 square miles of solar electric panels to power large scale reverse osmosis system
pumps to convert seawater into freshwater.
How do we ensure that our region has a plentiful, affordable and sustainable supply of food?
Currently, we import 90 percent of our food. Given the unstable world we live in, the fact that world
population is still growing and the amount and fertility of our soils are declining, this is not a secure
position in which to be. Especially considering that groundwater, worldwide, is being pol uted and
extracted much faster than natural recharge rates.
The only way we can ensure that we will always have sufficient food for everyone is to grow it here in
our own communities. Our region is blessed with abundant and fertile soils. This is true, even
though we've already developed or otherwise damaged some of our region's best soils. So step one
toward food security in our region, is to preserve the soils that have not yet been developed or
otherwise misused and reclaim soils misused in the past wherever possible. Step two is to use organic
agricultural practices that increase soil fertility, use local freshwater resources sustainably, and to not
pol ute our air, water and soil in any way.
How do we design and build our communities, buildings, transportation systems, vehicles,
roads, parking lots, etc. in ways that enhance sustainability? Although building our communities
and their supporting infrastructures in appropriate locations is vital to sustainability, it is also essential
that they be designed to be:
- Energy and water efficient
- Made with nontoxic, recycled and sustainably harvested and mined materials
- Designed to be easily recycled at the end of their useful life.
The fol owing will answer these "How to do the what" questions in more detail beginning with:
Becoming Renewable Energy Self-sufficient
1. Does our county and region have sufficient renewable energy resources and efficiency
improvement opportunities to make the residents of the San Diego/Tijuana Region, completely
YES, AND THEN SOME!!!!
Our region is so rich in renewable energy resources that we could easily become energy self-sufficient
even without energy-use efficiency improvements. For example, even with zero efficiency
improvements, San Diego County could be net metered out for electricity through 2050 if 34.2 percent
(48.1 square miles) (9) of the 140.43 square miles of County land projected to be covered by roofs and
parking lots in 2050 if they were covered by photovoltaic (PV) systems. (10) With a 40% increase in
electricity use efficiency only 20.5% (28.86 square miles) of the county's roofs and parking lots would
need to be covered for the County to net-meter-out for electricity through 2050. (For comparison in
2005, an estimated 110 square miles of County land was already covered by roofs and parking lots.)
With out efficiency improvements, covering 86% (121 square miles) of our county's projected 140.43
square miles of roofs and parking lots in 2050 with PV systems would produce enough electricity to
replace all the imported energy (electricity, natural gas, gasoline, diesel and propane) projected to be
used in San Diego County in that year. (11) With a 40 percent increase in energy use efficiency, only
51.7% (72.6 square miles) of the county's 2050 roofs and parking lots, would need to be covered with
PV systems for San Diego County to net-metered out for all energy sources through 2050. (12)
Coupling a 40% improvement in efficient energy use with covering 100 square miles of roofs and
parking lots with PV systems, the County would become a large energy exporter, (mostly electricity). At
$.10 per kWh selling the extra 37.4 square miles of PV production for $.10 per kWh would bring in
$1.768 billion per year additional to the $3.43 billion kept in the County's economy by replacing
nonrenewable imported energy sources with efficiency improvements and local renewable energy in
large development. Adding $1,768,264,249 per year to $3,432,512,954
equals a positive cash flow of
$5.2 billion per year. Assuming the 100 square mile scenario discussed in the
multiplying a $5.2 billion positive-electricity-purchase-cash-flow by an economic
multiplier of 2 equals
and economic multiplier benefit of $10.4 billion per year in 2050. (13)
2. What economic benefits can we gain by becoming energy self-sufficient?
+ Economically, the more our region becomes energy self-sufficient, the
more money we will have
circulating in our local economy. At $.10 per kWh, regional energy self-sufficiency
in 2002 would have
kept about $7 billion in the wallets and bank accounts of San Diego/Tijuana
residents and businesses,
$5.2 billion in San Diego County alone. According to economic multiplier theory,
adding $7 billion to our
local economy each year would increase local yearly economic activity by $14
billion. In other words,
the region would be converting a $7 billion per year and growing negative-energy-purchase-cash-flow
into a $7 billion per year and growing positive-energy-purchase-cash-flow and
a $14 billion and growing
economic multiplier benefit.
(As a teaser, if energy, water and food self-sufficiency were achieved in San
Diego County, the $20
billion we currently export per year to pay for the energy, water and food we
import would be kept here
as well boosting our County's economic activity by $40 billion each year.
If the Mexico part of the
region followed suit, regional economic activity would be increased by at least $60 billion annually. (The
economic and security benefits of becoming water and food self-sufficient will be detailed later.)
+ Becoming energy self-sufficient will save us money. This is because becoming energy self-sufficient
costs less than continuing our dependence on imported, nonrenewable energy resources. Since
nonrenewable energy resources are running out, their cost, on average, will continue to rise. Recent
experience shows us that energy costs are also subject to criminal and/or immoral supply and price
manipulations -- designed to take even more money out of our pockets.
Since solar energy is free, once we have the capacity to convert enough solar energy into electricity to
satisfy all our energy needs, our only cost will be local grid and system maintenance. Because solar PV
panels are performance warranted for 25 years, there would be very little system maintenance
required. Plus, as we get better at designing, manufacturing and installing renewable energy collection
capacity and efficiency measures, the cost per kilowatt hour produced or saved will go down and
performance warranties will get longer, perhaps as long as 50 years.
+ Becoming energy self-sufficient will save money in other ways as wel
- Lower health costs. Becoming energy self-sufficient through efficiency improvements and
renewable energy development will reduce pol ution, especially air pollution, on all fronts. Just one
example, reduced air pollution means fewer emergency room incidents related to severe
respiratory attacks. If all the health costs associated with our current dependence on nonrenewable
energy resources were added to the cost we pay for them, the cost of energy would probably
- Lower property maintenance costs. The pol ution caused when nonrenewable energy resources
are used attacks paint, metal, roofing, clothing, landscaping, public art, etc. Solar energy
development and efficiency improvements are virtually non-polluting by comparison.
- Lower per capita costs for crime prevention and social services. Becoming energy self-sufficient
will create well paid ful employment and greatly expand profitable business opportunities across
the board. The more legitimate opportunities there are to make a decent living, the less crime and
fewer social problems there will be.
- Increased community spirit. Becoming energy self-sufficient is about getting paid a livable wage
while working on ensuring that our youth and future generations have a world where the air, water
and food and the other necessities are pol ution-free, plentiful and produced in ways that
strengthen economic and public health and are completely life-support sustaining. In our time and
place in history there is no work more important and fulfilling than insuring that our youth and future
generations have a healthy, abundant, prosperous and secure world to live in during their lives.
Additionally, When people feel that their work is contributing to the common good, and they get
paid enough money for their work to pay their bills, afford a decent health plan, set aside
something for retirement and have plenty of fun along the way crime, violence and family frictions
will be greatly reduced.
- Add to unemployment insurance funds, while increasing social security reserves. With full
employment, unemployment funds and social security reserves will grow rapidly.
- Eliminate economic losses associated with staying with the status quo. These losses include:
Lost economic multiplier benefits. Exporting the dollars we spend on imported energy means there is
no economic multiplier benefit gained locally in spending this money.
Lost tax revenues. Once the dol ars we export to pay for imported energy leave our local economy, no
local tax revenues can be generated from them.
Increased tax revenues. Keeping and adding billion of dollars a year in our local economy will increase
local jobs and business opportunities on all fronts. Since the people earning this money live local y,
their local spending will bring new tax dollars into municipal coffers. This means we will have fewer
economic and social problems and more tax revenues to take care of the economic and social
problems that increased employment and new business activity don't solve. We will also have more
money available to rebuild our infrastructure, create new libraries, parks, sports venues, and to support
the arts and cultural expression.
3. How will energy self-sufficiency increase energy security and regional security in general?
+ The more we reduce our dependence on imported energy, the more secure we will be. As we have
seen, we have little control over the price or supply of the energy vital to every aspect of our lives.
Therefore, the more energy self-sufficient we become the more local control we will have over both
energy price and supply. In this age of uncertainty, achieving energy self-sufficiency is vital to our
personal security and the security of our families and communities.
+ Reduced threat of energy flow restrictions due to terrorism, accidents and severe weather here and
abroad. A dispersed solar panel system installed on roofs and over parking lots would be much less
vulnerable to large scale damage from acts of nature like earthquakes and severe weather and to
human-caused accidents or damage caused by people bent on hurtful and destructive actions.
Current natural gas, oil, coal-fired and nuclear power plants are sitting ducks and the loss of any one of
them to an attack will cause considerable local harm and systemic problems as well. On top of this, a
successful attack on a nuclear power plant would render thousands of square miles of land unsafe to
inhabit for tens if not hundreds or even thousands of years.
I won't talk specifics because I don't want to give anyone ideas, but a solar electric system dispersed
over 50 to 100 square miles of roofs and parking lots would be much more difficult to damage in any
major way than are centralized power plants. Plus, even if centralized plants are not attacked directly,
the cut-off of their fossil fuel or enriched uranium fuels would serve the same purpose. Since free solar
energy comes directly to us, it cannot be interrupted.
+ Reducing the creation of greenhouse gases. I take my cues on this issue from the Global
Reinsurance Industry. These are mega insurance companies that insure the insurance companies we
buy policies from. Here's a quote from a recent world conference of Reinsurance Industry Leaders, "...
climate change could cost the world more than $300 billion each year" and "only urgent efforts to curb
emissions of CO2 and other gases linked with the greenhouse effect, can avert this outcome." (16) Al
Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth Makes a similar case.
The more we increase renewable energy development and install efficient energy-use measures, the
fewer CO2 and methane gas emissions to the atmosphere there will be. Carbon dioxide and methane
gas are two major contributors to global warming.
Probably the most important economic issue is that once a community has installed sufficient
renewable energy collection capacity to meet al its local energy needs, NO ONE LIVING OR
WORKING IN THAT COMMUNITY WOULD EVER LOSE THEIR HOME, BUSINESS, JOB OR WAY
OF LIFE DUE TO OUT-OF-CONTROL ENERGY COSTS OR UNCERTAIN SUPPLIES.
4. What are the health and environmental benefits of becoming energy self-sufficient?
+ Many of the economic benefits that becoming energy self-sufficient wil bring, wil reduce pol ution
and therefore help improve human health and the health of our planet's life support system. I estimate
that just using off-the-shelf technologies, becoming energy self-sufficient through efficiency
improvements and renewable energy development, will reduce our current energy production and use
related pollution by 90 percent.
Additionally, as we get more skilled at saving energy and developing our renewable energy resources,
we'll eliminate energy-supply-related pol ution completely. In other words, if we do it right, we can have
a secure abundance of energy with no pollution and no health or life support system liabilities.
Obviously, our cities, county and region can benefit greatly by becoming energy self-sufficient.
This given, what should we do to benefit from this opportunity economically and to get control of our
Here's my plan:
Both San Diego City and County residences and businesses pay enough for energy each year to swing
the deal I'm proposing. Even smaller municipalities, like the residents of Chula Vista, pay enough for
energy to swing the deal as well.
But the best deal for investors, manufacturers, instal ers and for the public at large, would be for San
Diego County and all its Cities and the Cities of Tijuana, Tecate, Rosarito and Ensenada to partner in
issuing a Request For Proposals (RFP) to make our region energy self-sufficient by 2030 or as soon as
possible there after.
This RFP would be issued to the large solar panel manufacturers and energy service companies to
come up with a cost-effective plan including financing to make our region renewable energy self-
sufficient by 2030 or sooner if possible. To maximize local job and business opportunities, the RFP
would include the provision that at least 90 percent of the products used to develop our solar resources
and increase efficient energy use, would be manufactured and installed by people living in our region
earning at least prevailing wages.
How Do We Pay For It?
SURPRISE!!!!!!!!! We are already paying more money for energy than we will pay if we become
energy self-sufficient. Plus, while we are saving money on energy, our energy payments will transform
us from being energy supply renters to being the owners of our own renewable energy supply system.
Now we rent energy, just like renting a place to live. In either case, no matter how much we pay or how
long we pay, we never gain equity in the place we rent or in the system that supplies us the imported
energy upon which we now depend. With my plan, investors will finance the development of sufficient
solar energy and efficient energy use improvements to make us energy self-sufficient.
For our part, we wil pay off the investors including their profit by paying our energy bills just as we do
now, except our cost per unit of energy will gradually go down as local efficiency improvements and
renewable energy systems are instal ed. Plus, as the process unfolds, we will transform ourselves from
being energy supply renters into energy system owners of our own local solar electric energy supply
system. Additional y, as discussed previously, solar energy is free.
Another benefit, and arguably the most important, is that becoming energy self-sufficient locally is the
best energy supply and price security insurance policy we can own and we get it for no additional cost.
Imagine what the payments would be on an insurance policy that would guarantee that there would be
no economic losses in our region due to energy supply uncertainties and upward price volatility, given
our current almost complete dependency on imported energy that more often than not is coming from
distant political y unstable sources. This is an insurance policy that even Lloyd's of London would not
Bottom line: as we invest in becoming energy self-sufficient we are also investing in affordable energy
price and supply security. If we continue our nonrenewable energy dependence, we will become
increasingly vulnerable to energy supply shortages and rising energy costs.
At today's costs, on average, each man, woman and child consumes approximately $6 worth of
imported electricity, natural gas, gasoline and diesel energy each day or $2,200 each year. Even if we
assume that energy costs remain static, at the end of 10 years the average household of 2.8 people will
be out $61,320 in payments for energy with nothing to show for it but increasing energy costs and
supply uncertainty. (17) With my plan, we will save money and along the way we will become
shareholders in our own energy supply system.
What's in it for investors and companies?
The incentives for investors and companies to provide financing and submit proposals are threefold:
+ If our region committed itself to becoming energy self-sufficient by 2030, we would create the largest
solar development and efficiency improvement project in the world, at least 10 times larger than
anything that has been implemented before on our planet. This is a market that investors and
manufacturing companies would be happy to win.
+ Once the successful bidders finish making our region energy self-sufficient, they will own the world
market in manufacturing solar panels and efficient energy use products. With the economy of scale
production required to meet our local energy needs by 2030, these companies will be producing and
marketing the most cost-competitive, solar electric PV panels and efficiency products in the world. With
such an advantage, our local companies will take over the world market in solar electric panels and
efficient energy-use products and their instal ation.
In fact, the only way for other solar panel and efficiency products manufacturers to compete will be to
increase their scale of production to match the production scale of our local plants. This will reduce the
cost of converting solar energy into electricity and saving energy through efficiency improvements even
+ From an investor perspective, financing energy self-sufficiency is one of the most secure investments
in the world. Who is not going to pay their energy bills? Especially considering all the economic, health
and environmental benefits that becoming energy self-sufficient will bring and all the problems that
being dependent on imported non-renewable energy resources portends. Energy security is essential.
Without energy we wouldn't have light, refrigeration, heating, TV, radio, computers, transportation etc.
Without energy, we can't even pump water or deliver food. Plus, with the economy-of-scale production
that making our region energy self-sufficient will require, investors can look forward to investing in a
multi-trillion dollar global market aimed at replacing all non-renewable energy sources by various forms
of solar energy over the next 50 to 60 years.
On another level, investors, manufacturers, installers, municipalities, ratepayers, and real y all of us will
benefit in emotional and spiritual ways not quantifiable in dol ars. In addition to securing our own energy
future, we will be ensuring that our children and future generations have an abundance of clean
renewable energy. Abundant clean energy is an essential precursor to the creation of a strong
sustainable economy and insuring that future generations have an abundance of clean and healthy air,
water and food to sustain them during their lives.
The Economics of Becoming Renewable Energy Self-sufficient
The purpose of the fol owing spreadsheet and corresponding graph is to show the positive economic
benefits of aggressively pursuing renewable energy self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, the level of
aggressive investment used in the spreadsheet calculations is probably not achievable unless there is
an all-out region wide Apollo Project like effort to get the job done. Such an all-out effort would include:
+ Extensive public education as to the economic and security advantages of becoming renewable
energy self-sufficient as soon as possible.
+ Greatly increasing the local manufacturing capacity to supply the efficiency improving and renewable
energy collection products necessary to meet the 27-year renewable energy self-sufficiency target
shown by the graph.
+ A 10 fold expansion of existing training programs to insure that there is a large enough skilled labor
force to manufacture and install the necessary efficiency improving and renewable energy collecting
equipment to get the job done in 27 years.
The beauty of the spreadsheet however is that as long as the working capital per year is sufficient to
create the economy of scale production benefits projected by the spreadsheet, whatever debt was
incurred would still be paid off in 6 years. For example, a yearly working capital of $100 million each
year would still provide the same economy of scale production and installation benefits that a working
capital of $500 million per year would create. The difference would be that starting with a working
capital of $100 million each year, it would take 46 years instead of the 27 years shown in the graph to
make the region renewable energy self-sufficient.
The case made in this book is that staying with the energy status quo is increasing our danger of
experiencing a regional economic and security meltdown; and that our best hope to avoid such a
meltdown is to become renewable energy self-sufficient as soon as possible. This implies that we
should set our initial working capital level as high as we have the labor and manufacturing capabilities
to spend the money efficiently. As newly trained labor and manufacturing capacity expands, working
capital levels can be increased accordingly.
| Economic Benefits of Becoming Energy Self-Sufficient
(Monetary values are in millions of dollars)
||Start up capital
||Income From PV
||Income from Energy Efficiency
||Total Income less interest payback
||Net Income less consumer rebate
|2006 ||2 ||$828 ||$500 ||$500 ||$124 ||$0 ||$1 ||$266 ||$267 ||$191 ||$172 |
|2007 ||3 ||$960 ||$500 ||$500 ||$144 ||$0 ||$2 ||$531 ||$533 ||$409 ||$368 |
|2008 ||4 ||$871 ||$500 ||$500 ||$131 ||$0 ||$2 ||$797 ||$799 ||$655 ||$590 |
|2009 ||5 ||$529 ||$500 ||$500 ||$79 ||$0 ||$3 ||$1,062 ||$1,065 ||$935 ||$841 |
|2010 ||6 ||$0 ||$598 ||$598 ||$0 ||$0 ||$4 ||$1,328 ||$1,332 ||$1,252 ||$1,127 |
|2011 ||7 ||$0 ||$1,485 ||$1,485 ||$0 ||$0 ||$5 ||$1,645 ||$1,650 ||$1,650 ||$1,485 |
|2012 ||8 ||$0 ||$2,197 ||$2,197 ||$0 ||$0 ||$8 ||$2,434 ||$2,442 ||$2,442 ||$2,197 |
|2013 ||9 ||$0 ||$2,306 ||$2,306 ||$0 ||$0 ||$128 ||$2,434 ||$2,562 ||$2,562 ||$2,306 |
|2014 ||10 ||$0 ||$2,419 ||$2,419 ||$0 ||$0 ||$254 ||$2,434 ||$2,688 ||$2,688 ||$2,419 |
|2015 ||11 ||$0 ||$2,539 ||$2,539 ||$0 ||$0 ||$387 ||$2,434 ||$2,821 ||$2,821 ||$2,539 |
|2016 ||12 ||$0 ||$2,664 ||$2,664 ||$0 ||$0 ||$526 ||$2,434 ||$2,960 ||$2,960 ||$2,664 |
|2017 ||13 ||$0 ||$2,795 ||$2,795 ||$0 ||$0 ||$671 ||$2,434 ||$3,105 ||$3,105 ||$2,795|
|2018 ||14 ||$0 ||$2,933 ||$2,933 ||$0 ||$0 ||$824 ||$2,434 ||$3,258 ||$3,258 ||$2,933 |
|2019 ||15 ||$0 ||$3,077 ||$3,077 ||$0 ||$0 ||$985 ||$2,434 ||$3,419 ||$3,419 ||$3,077 |
|2020 ||16 ||$0 ||$3,229 ||$3,229 ||$0 ||$0 ||$1,153 ||$2,434 ||$3,588 ||$3,588 ||$3,229 |
|2021 ||17 ||$0 ||$3,388 ||$3,388 ||$0 ||$0 ||$1,330 ||$2,434 ||$3,764 ||$3,764 ||$3,388 |
|2022 ||18 ||$0 ||$3,555 ||$3,555 ||$0 ||$0 ||$1,516 ||$2,434 ||$3,950 ||$3,950 ||$3,555 |
|2023 ||19 ||$0 ||$3,730 ||$3,730 ||$0 ||$0 ||$1,710 ||$2,434 ||$4,144 ||$4,144 ||$3,730 |
|2024 ||20 ||$0 ||$3,914 ||$3,914 ||$0 ||$0 ||$1,915 ||$2,434 ||$4,349 ||$4,349 ||$3,914 |
|2025 ||21 ||$0 ||$4,107 ||$4,107 ||$0 ||$0 ||$2,129 ||$2,434 ||$4,563 ||$4,563 ||$4,107 |
|2026 ||22 ||$0 ||$4,309 ||$4,309 ||$0 ||$0 ||$2,354 ||$2,434 ||$4,788 ||$4,788 ||$4,309 |
|2027 ||23 ||$0 ||$4,521 ||$4,521 ||$0 ||$0 ||$2,590 ||$2,434 ||$5,024 ||$5,024 ||$4,521 |
|2028 ||24 ||$0 ||$4,744 ||$4,744 ||$0 ||$0 ||$2,837 ||$2,434 ||$5,271 ||$5,271 ||$4,744 |
|2029 ||25 ||$0 ||$4,978 ||$4,978 ||$0 ||$0 ||$3,097 ||$2,434 ||$5,531 ||$5,531 ||$4,978 |
|2030 ||26 ||$0 ||$5,223 ||$5,223 ||$0 ||$0 ||$3,369 ||$2,434 ||$5,803 ||$5,803 ||$5,223 |
|2031 ||27 ||$0 ||$5,481 ||$5,481 ||$0 ||$0 ||$3,655 ||$2,434 ||$6,089 ||$6,089 ||$5,481 |
|2032 ||28 ||$0 ||$5,751 ||$5,751 ||$0 ||$0 ||$3,955 ||$2,434 ||$6,390 ||$6,390 ||$5,751 |
|2033 ||29 ||$0 ||$6,034 ||$6,034 ||$0 ||$0 ||$4,270 ||$2,434 ||$6,704 ||$6,704 ||$6,034 |
|2034 ||30 ||$0 ||$6,331 ||$6,331 ||$0 ||$0 ||$4,601 ||$2,434 ||$7,035 ||$7,035 ||$6,331 |
|2035 ||31 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$0 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$4,947 ||$2,434 ||$7,381 ||$7,381 ||$6,643 |
|2036 ||32 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$0 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$4,947 ||$2,434 ||$7,381 ||$7,381 ||$6,643 |
|2037 ||33 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$0 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$4,947 ||$2,434 ||$7,381 ||$7,381 ||$6,643 |
|2038 ||34 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$0 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$4,947 ||$2,434 ||$7,381 ||$7,381 ||$6,643 |
|2039 ||35 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$0 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$4,947 ||$2,434 ||$7,381 ||$7,381 ||$6,643 |
|2040 ||36 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$0 ||$0 ||$6,643 ||$4,947 ||$2,434 ||$7,381 ||$7,381 ||$6,643 |
Note: To be extra conservative this spreadsheet assumes zero income from efficiency measures
and renewable energy installations during the year they are installed.
Yearly Investment Capital ($) $500,000,000 $6,600,000,000
Debt Interest Rate+ Annual Return on Investment Rate (%) 15
Percent of Annual Investment Going to PV Instal ation [Note 1] Investment (%) 3 100
Percent of Annual Investment Going Toward Energy Efficiency [Note1] Investment (%) 97
Cost of Installation (assumed economies of scale at 500 MW
per year plant output [Note 2] PV Cost/KW capacity ($) $5,000
Average Sunlight for San Diego per day 5
Retail Price per KWH (includes components, distribution etc.) [Note 3] Cost ($) $0.15
Average cost per KW saved in al sectors [Note 4] Cost ($) $1,000
Average Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Building Use per day Hours 10
Economic Multiplier Factor 2
Consumer Rebate % of Income 10
Bond Debt Payoff % of Income 90
Energy Efficiency Income Achievable available at $1,000/kW Saved $2,434,108,590
PV Income Achievable at $5,000 per KW of Installed Capacity $9,000,000,000
1. At the investment level assumed in this graph, all efficiency improvements at an average cost of $1,000 per kW saved would be installed by
year 8. At this point all the income from efficiency improvements and already installed PV panels, less the 10 percent consumer rebate, would
be shifted to the installation of new PV capacity.
2. Detailed studies funded by British Petroleum and Green Peace Netherlands have shown that large scale PV panel manufacturing plants
designed to produce a minimum of 500 MW of PV panels each year would bring the cost of producing PV panels down to around $2.00 per
peak Watt. Currently, (1/05) large installers are paying $3.15 to $3.50 per peak Watt in a market place where the world demand for panels is
exceeding supplies and the production of PV grade silicon to make them is not keeping up with demand. If we assume the current $3.50 per
watt panel cost then add $1.50 per watt for installation and $.80 for taxes equals $5.80 per installed watt. At $2 per watt the total is $4.30 per
watt of capacity. The spreadsheet number of $5.00 per watt fal s in the middle range between $5.80 and $4.30 per watt. Yes a profit margin
would be added on, but with mass production and instal ation, this can be low and stil attractive to investors and the industry.
3. Common experience shows us that the cost of a kWh of electricity is volatile and more likely to go up on average than go down. In this light,
$.15 per kWh is probably a little on the conservative side as the future unfolds. The more that energy costs rise, the faster the payback on
investing in efficiency improvements and renewable energy development.
4. This was a hard number to come up with since most research in this area is focused on reducing peak demand instead of reducing total
consumption. After discussing this with numerous experts in the field, the general consensus was that up to 50 percent of the energy currently
consumed to light, heat and cool buildings and to run equipment and machinery in them could be saved for an average cost of $1,000 per kW
saved for 10 hours per day. This10 hours per day estimate is probably a little high for the residential sector because many people are at work
and school during the day and therefore residential energy use is low during those hours. But 10 hours per day in commercial and industrial
buildings and the work done in them is probably low. Most businesses and industries are operating at least 12 hours per-day and many
operate 24/7. To be conservative, the spreadsheet calculations assume that only 40 percent of the energy currently used in the region could
be saved for an average of $1,000 per kW saved instead of the consensus figure of 50 percent.
With regard to efficiency improvements in vehicles, a number of recent studies using varying assumptions have arrived at widely differing
estimates on how much it costs at the factory to improve the mpg of various vehicle types. Meanwhile in the real world, the 2004 five
passenger 55 mpg Toyota Prius has already exceeded even the most optimistic projections of these studies. Additionally, the Prius has very
low emission and has not increased in price. Plus, according to the Wal Street Journal, the Prius has been the fastest selling car since it came
out in 2003. Compared with its Big 3 competitors the Prius is 30 to 50 percent more fuel-efficient. In short, the Prius demonstrates that with
good design, the fuel efficiency of passenger cars can be greatly improved with little or no increase in price or $0 per kW saved. Even if it
costs $2,000 in changes per car to improve its efficiency from 35 mpg to 55 mpg assuming 15,000 miles per year (42 miles per day average)
equals around $400 per kW saved, wel below the $1,000 per kW saved budgeted in the analysis.
Large (18 wheelers) and median sized trucks show similar promises of cost-effective fuel efficiency gains. (For details read Lovins, Amory B.,
E. Kyle Datta, et al. Winning the Oil Endgame. Rocky Mountain Inst., 2004. For Prius details - pp. 29-30, General discussion - pp. 44-78 and
figure 11 - p. 51, figure 21 - p. 66 for study comparisons and pp. 73-78 for large trucks.
Note: The cost of system maintenance is not included in the graph because it is assumed to be low or less than maintenance on existing
systems. This is because PV panels are performance warranted for 25 years and efficiency improvements like extra insulation, double paned
windows and skylights require no energy related maintenance since they will last the life of the building in which they are instal ed.
Improvements like replacing old lighting with more efficient systems will actually save on maintenance costs. New efficient lighting systems
last up to 10 times longer than the systems they replace. Longer periods of time between replacements translate into reduced maintenance
costs. Although energy efficient electric motors used in industry and appliances may last longer than the less efficient electric motors they
replace, even if they don't, no additional maintenance will be required.
Achieving Water Security by Becoming Water Self-sufficient
Although our region is rich in renewable energy resources and agricultural soils (agricultural soils will be
discussed later), this is not the case for freshwater. If recent lower than historic rain/snow falls continue,
freshwater resources will be even more limited in the future. But, even if recent less than historic
rain/snow falls continue, our region can be water self-sufficient, with few or no lifestyle changes, if an
efficient, integrated, sustainable watershed, water col ection, storage, use, and reuse-for-irrigation
strategy is adopted. Additionally, we have an abundance of renewable energy to convert seawater into
freshwater to make up for any water supply deficits.
What we need to do to achieve water self-sufficiency
Protect and improve watershed health to maximize groundwater recharge and surface water collection.
Healthy watersheds are rich in life. Plants provide food and oxygen for animals (humans included) and
animals provide nutrient-rich wastes and carbon dioxide for plants. Healthy plant communities protect
against soil erosion by blunting the force of even the heaviest rain. By protecting the soil from eroding,
plants keep surface runoff clean and easier to collect. Soil animals like earthworms create a nearly
infinite number of tiny tunnels, which provide pathways for water to be absorbed by the soil to nourish
both plants and animals and maximize soil and groundwater recharge, whatever the rainfall total is in a
particular year. In other words, the healthier watersheds are, the more groundwater the people living in
them wil be able to use sustainably, whether rainfal is below average or above it.
Develop a more efficient, durable and secure local water collection system. On the water collection
front, water would be extracted from groundwater reservoirs or taken from streams and rivers. In some
cases, surface water collection would require the construction of smal reservoirs along stream or river
channels. Unlike the typical reservoir of today, which completely blocks the flow of a waterway, these
reservoirs would be small, usually less than 10 feet high, and designed to divert no more than 50
percent of the water flow into pumping reservoirs. Pumping reservoirs would be sited at valley
perimeters out of floodplains. As the water rose in these reservoirs, float activated pumps would deliver
water to underground storage tanks primarily located on mesas and hills but never in floodplains.
Develop a more secure water storage system to protect stored water from contamination and
evaporation. Thus far, my research shows that underground tank storage is the most secure and cost-
effective storage system for our region with one or more tanks located in each community depending
on the size of the community. The land above each tank would be used for parks, basketbal and tennis
courts, soccer, baseball and footbal fields, community gardens, wildlife habitats, etc., depending on the
size and location of the tank and community preference. The benefits of the underground tank
storage over other options include:
+. No loss of water or water quality to evaporation. In our region, open reservoirs, depending on
location, lose 4 to 8 feet of water from their surfaces each year to evaporation. This is 4 to 8 times more
than our average rainfal . (18) Not only is water lost, the salts and other minerals that were dissolved in
it become more concentrated in the water left in storage.
+. Providing a secure water supply where water will be most needed if aqueducts and delivery pipes fail
due to earthquakes, severe weather, or accidental or intentional human disruption. (19)
+ Protecting water from air or water-borne pol ution. (20)
+ Making stored water more difficult to purposely or accidental y contaminate. (21)
+. Being less vulnerable to earthquakes than are dams. (22)
+ Fewer land-use liabilities. Unlike dams, underground tanks do not flood farmland or wildlife habitat.
+ Eliminating the threat of deaths, injury and damage to property that dam failures cause. (24)
+ The potential to design underground storage tanks that can collect water from humid air even if
precipitation is absent. (25)
+ Having a world-class underground tank builder based in our region. (26)
Use water more efficiently by getting more water-use benefit using less water.
Residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural water use can be substantially reduced in cost-
effective ways without reducing water-use benefits. Residential water use can be reduced by 70
percent without life style changes through a combination of low-flow shower heads, low-flow toilets,
water-efficient appliances, climate-appropriate landscaping, and the use of bath and sink water
(graywater) for irrigation where appropriate. (27)
Commercial and industrial water use can be reduced by using the residential measures listed above
where appropriate. Other improvements can be made depending on the nature of the commercial or
industrial operations involved. One example, of several discussed in footnote 28, is the "Armco Steel
Mill in Kansas City, Missouri. This plant, which manufactures steel bars from recycled ferrous scrap,
uses water 10 to 20 times more efficiently than a normal plant and uses the water it takes in 16 times
before the water is discharged into a river. (28)
To maximize water security, it is important to use water efficiently in every way we can. But more
efficient water use in agriculture could save more water than al other efficiency measures combined.
Worldwide, the amount of water used in agriculture "accounts for some 70% of global water use,"
greatly exceeding the quantity of water used for domestic and commercial purposes. In countries like
the U.S., with wel -developed irrigation infrastructures, up to eighty-five percent of all water used is
consumed by agriculture. The remaining 15 percent accounts for all other uses. (29)
One of the most troubling aspects of this water use in agriculture is how rapidly it is depleting
groundwater supplies. In 1986, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported "that one-fourth of the 21
million hectares (52 million acres) of U.S. irrigated cropland was being watered by pul ing down water
tables anywhere from six inches to four feet per year." (30) Groundwater depletion is an accelerating
problem worldwide. (31)
Whether in the United States or abroad, much of the water used by agriculture can be saved through
the use of efficient irrigation practices and by growing climate-appropriate crops. (32) Fortunately for us,
our region's farmers are already some of the most water-efficient farmers in the world. (33)
Water recycling is another way to improve water-use efficiency. Water recycling can occur on several
levels. Home gray water systems (bath and sink water) may be as simple as draining bath and wash
water into one's yard. Depending on the particular situation, more sophisticated systems may involve
filtering, pumps, and disinfection. Gray water includes bath, sink, and water from washing clothing. It
excludes toilet wastes. Food scraps and many soaps and shampoos present in gray water are not
usually a problem since they can be broken down by soil organisms into nutrients that are used by
plants. Whether it be human bathing or general cleaning products, it is best if they biodegrade rapidly.
Community-scale water recycling is another way to get twice the benefit from the same amount of
water. In dense urban areas where many residences do not have yards, community-scale sewage
recycling systems can be used. As with backyard systems, it is important to keep toxic and caustic
materials out of all wastewater collection and recycling processes. If this is done there are a number of
processes that can be used to clean up wastewater so that the water can be used for irrigation and the
solids composted into fertilizer. In general, such recycling systems use both biological and mechanical
methods to clean wastewater.
One cost-effective approach has been developed in Tijuana, Mexico. The treatment plant in Tijuana is
called Ecoparque. I was involved in the design of this system, directed its construction and was co-
project director during its construction. Ecoparque is designed to transform sewage into irrigation water
and fertilizer. It's particularly suited to our semi-arid climate because very little water is lost to
evaporation during treatment. (35)
Designed to combine biological and mechanical methods to process wastewater, Ecoparque also
minimizes the amount of land needed for treatment. The treatment process involves mechanical
screens, biological filters, clarification (slowing the flow of water so solids can settle out) and
disinfection. Basically, Ecoparque recycles all the water and nutrients that pass through it. The recycled
water is being used for irrigation and the nutrient rich solids are composted through a vermiculture
(earthworm) composting system, then used as an organic fertilizer rich in plant nutrients and food for
soil organisms. (36) On a more prosaic level, Ecoparque converts sewage waste and pollution into
irrigation water and soil nutrients. Using these reclaimed resources on site has transformed a former
dump and health hazard into a 32 acre park and wildlife refuge where families' picnic and couples get
married. As a bonus, land values around the site have increased substantially and developers use
advertising slogans like "Live Next to Ecoparque" to attract home buyers.
Use our abundant renewable energy resources to convert seawater into fresh water through
reverse osmosis, distillation and other strategies.
Today, most systems designed to convert seawater into freshwater, are powered, directly or indirectly,
by fossil fuels, but direct solar or solar generated electricity can be used. Simple, single-stage direct
solar stills in Southern California will produce, on average, one gallon of fresh water from seawater
each day per 10 square feet of glazing. Multistage solar stills can double this production. Combining
waste industrial heat with solar distillation can increase freshwater production many-fold depending on
how much waste heat is available.
Currently, the most efficient way to convert seawater to freshwater is through reverse osmosis that can
be powered by renewably generated electricity. Reverse osmosis uses high-pressure pumps to force
seawater through a membrane that lets water through but blocks dissolved minerals like salt. Large-
scale reverse osmosis systems (5 million gallons per day and larger) will produce 50 gallons of
freshwater from seawater per kWh of electricity consumed. At this rate, 8.3 square miles of PV panels
installed on rooftops and over parking lots will produce, on average, 180 gal ons of freshwater from
seawater per capita per day for 3 million people. (37) The amount of water used per capita per day in
our county for al uses (residential, industrial, commercial and agriculture) in 2001 was 180 gal ons.
Wave power and tidal power can also be used to convert seawater into freshwater. Float Inc., a local
company, has proposed building a floating airport to replace Lindbergh Field. I've researched their
technology, and was quite impressed with it in general and its' potential to use wave power to make
freshwater from seawater. (38)
Collecting Water From the Land, Our Region's Potential
Given the goal of achieving water self-sufficiency, how much water can be sustainably collected from
the region's coastal watersheds each year and what do we need to do to convert sea water into
freshwater to make up for any deficits?
Historically, average rainfal , including snow, has run at around 18 inches per year, 9.9 inches on the
coast to 40 inches on the western slopes of the Laguna Mountain Crest. If this historic average held up
over the long run, the assumptions and conclusions in the fol owing footnote are more or less accurate.
(39) Unfortunately, average rainfall totals have been declining. As rainfall totals go down, the percent of
runoff and groundwater recharge goes down even more steeply. In other words, the lower the average
rainfall, the smaller the percentage of it that will run off or recharge groundwater supplies. When rainfall
is low there is little runoff because most of it is soaked up by the first few inches or feet of soil where it
is used up by plants or evaporates over time. Similarly, very little groundwater recharge occurs until
there is sufficient rainfall to fully saturate surface soils. (40)
Taking the above into consideration and assuming a coastal watershed average rainfal of 12 inches (6
inches along the coast and 24 inches above 4,500 feet in elevation) instead of the historic average of
18 inches, how much water could we collect?
Basically there are 3 land sources of water available to us: general runoff from the region's coastal
watersheds, runoff from impervious surfaces like roofs and parking lots, and groundwater.
+ General Runoff. Assuming a Tijuana/San Diego region coastal watershed area of 6,220 square miles
or 3,980,800 acres (1,612,224 hectares) and that only 6 percent of the rain that falls runs off and that
only half of this 6 percent can be col ected (3 percent of 12 inches) without causing ecological
sustainability problems - the amount of water that can be collected equals 17 gal ons per capita per day
for 6,000,000 people. (41)
+ Impervious surfaces. Assuming that there are 600 square miles of impervious surfaces (roofs and
parking lots), in the San Diego/Tijuana region and that 6 inches of precipitation can be collected from
these surfaces on average per year, the amount of water that can be captured per capita for 6 million
people is 28.5 gallons per day. Note: with road surfaces included, there may be as many as 750
square miles of impervious surfaces in the San Diego/Tijuana region. Also, given the assumption of an
average coastal rainfal total of 6 inches, six inches of collectible water is probably conservative
considering that 6 inches of rainfal on the coast would be 8 inches west of I-15, around 10 inches in El
Cajon, La Mesa and Escondido and 12 inches or more in communities like Alpine and Valley Center.
+ Groundwater. If current lower than historic rainfal continues, we should assume a sustainable yield of
no more than 5 gallons per capita per day for 6 million people from our region's groundwater storage
Adding these totals together, we get 17 gallons + 28.5 gallons + 5 gallons = 50 gallons per capita per
day sustainable water supply from precipitation in our coastal watersheds. If we recycle 80 percent of
this water after use for irrigation it gives us an average water budget of 90 gal ons per day per capita for
all water uses.
Currently, the average use of water in the San Diego part of the region, for all uses, (residents,
commercial, industrial and for agriculture) is around 180 gal ons per day per capita. (44) This is based
on dividing the total amount of water used in San Diego County in 2001 by the total county population
in the same year.
My research has convinced me that through the use of currently available know-how and technology, it
is possible to actually improve our individual water-service benefits while using no more than 60 gal ons
of water per capita per day.
Since 90 gallons per capita per day for a 6 million regional population is available given the
assumptions already discussed, we can more than meet our water needs if an integrated collection,
storage, efficient use, and water recycling system is developed.
Plus, as discussed above, even if rainfall averages continue to fal , 8.3 square miles of solar cel
coverage on each side of the border (16.6 square miles total), will generate enough electricity to
produce 180 gallons of freshwater from seawater per capita per day for 6 million people using large
scale reverse osmosis systems. (45) Additionally, wave and tidal energy can be used to power large
scale reverse osmosis systems. (46)
Maximizing Food Security in the San Diego/Tijuana Region
On the food front, the San Diego/Tijuana Region is very rich in agricultural soils. From the most
productive to the least, there are 8 agricultural soil classifications, number "1" being the most versatile
for growing crops. The land areas covered in our region's coastal watersheds by the 4 best soil
classifications are as fol ows:
Number 1 soil 153 square miles (396 square kilometers.)
Number 2 soil 145 square miles. (375 square kilometers.)
Number 3 soil 670 square miles. (1,735 square kilometers.)
Number 4 soil 1,221 square miles. (3,162 square kilometers.) (47)
Although there are ample soils to feed many more than 6 million people, regional food production is
limited by the availability of water. If historic average rainfall totals return our water budget would be
sufficient to grow enough food to feed our current population indefinitely. If it doesn't, reduced
precipitation can be replaced by using solar generated electricity to convert seawater into freshwater.
Fortunately, we have an abundance of renewable energy to accomplish this task. Plus, wave and tidal
power can be used to convert seawater into freshwater as well. Efficient water use in growing food can
be increased many-fold if crops are grown in greenhouses designed to col ect the water that condenses
on the underside of greenhouse glass for reuse.
We Have Many Options But For How Long
As I hope I've shown, we have many options. My fear is that if we don't take them up soon, world
events wil preclude this opportunity.
The most important thing we need to remember is that becoming energy, water and food self-sufficient
is the economic engine that will both solve our budget problems and give us the money to build
libraries, swimming pools, recreation centers, parks, and do public benefit projects in general. And, we
can do this simply by keeping the money we now spend on imports of energy, water and food in our
local economy. This is around $20 billion each year.
In our favor, it turns out we can supply ourselves with all the energy, water and food we want and
produce them cheaper and better locally than if we continue to import them. Plus, we'll be doing it in
ways that protect human health, environmental health and strengthens our economy.
Additionally, every time we pay for energy, water and food, we will gain equity, ownership and income
from the systems that make us energy, water and food self-sufficient. In addition to the economic
benefits, being energy, water and food self-sufficient locally is the best insurance money can buy to
insure that these essential resources wil be available to everyone living in our region, no matter how
unstable the greater world becomes.
Part three: The San Diego/Tijuana Region, A Vision Of A Sustainable Future
If our region's economy were well on its way to becoming completely sustainable, what would it be like
to live here?
Actually, at least on the surface, life would be much the same as it is today, except that the region
would be much more park-like in appearance and there would be little if any pollution. If they chose to,
people would still have cars and would be able to drive them as far and often as they do now. The
difference would be that they would be driving much more efficient vehicles powered by renewable
energy produced local y.
Rapid charge electric cars and trucks would charge up their batteries by using solar (photovoltaic) cells
to convert the solar energy that falls on rooftops and parking lots into electricity. Hybrid drive and fuel
cell vehicles would be powered by liquid fuels like bio-diesel, ethanol, methanol, etc., produced locally
from food wastes, kitchen grease from restaurants, grass clippings, bush and tree trimmings, kelp,
eucalyptus, chaparral and other biomass materials. Natural gas derived from the anaerobic digestion of
food wastes, sewage and kelp residues can also be used to fuel hybrid-drive and fuel-cell powered
To maximize the efficiency of converting biomass into liquid or gaseous fuels, solar generated
electricity would be used to supply the conversion energy. If wood and other biomass materials are
converted into methanol, half the energy in the biomass would be used up in the conversion process.
Converting a primary energy source into a more usable energy form always uses up significant
amounts of energy. If solar generated electricity is used to supply the conversion energy, all the energy
in the biomass can be converted into methanol and ethanol. In addition to producing more bio-fuels like
methanol and ethanol, the extra fuel produced constitutes the storage of the solar generated electricity
that is stored in extra bio-fuels produced because none were consumed in the conversion process.
Even though plenty of energy for powering cars and trucks would be available, people probably
wouldn't drive nearly as much as they do today. This is because communities they live in would be
designed to maximize the balance between the availability of homes and apartments, with opportunities
for work, shopping, education, and recreation. Some people would still commute to jobs and travel to
other communities, but the opportunity to work and play in one's own community would be optimized.
To make communities more people friendly, balanced communities would include an internal
transportation system consisting of various pathways designed for pedestrians and human powered
vehicles. Electric carts and vans would be used to move cargo and people needing transportation
assistance in and around community centers. The expanded use of telecommunications would also
reduce the need to commute by making it possible for more people to work or be educated at home or
at satellite locations in their own communities.
To facilitate transportation between communities, each community's internal transportation system
would be linked to a local transportation hub. This hub, in turn, would be linked to the hubs of al the
other communities in the region. Whether by bus, trolley, or train, this would make all mass transit
between communities, express. In large, densely populated areas, cars and delivery vehicles would be
brought in on underground roads to underground parking and loading docks. In smaller communities
they would be kept to the outskirts of smaller community centers.
Buildings would look more or less the same as they do today but would be much better insulated and
very resource efficient in all their operations. Some low-cost ($40-$45 per square foot in 1980) buildings
in Canada are as much as 10 time more energy efficient than are most buildings in our region today.
Even though winter temperatures may drop to as low as minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit, some 2,000-
square-foot homes in Canada have heating bills less than $60 per year. (48) Of course the cost of
natural gas and other fossil fuels have risen since the 1980's, but the money saving benefit of
increased efficiency continues to pay big returns.
In addition to being more insulated, most buildings in the region would get 85 percent of their light
during the day from daylight sources. Windows, skylights, electric lighting, wall coloring, etc., would be
coordinated to maximize the benefits of natural light to increase the comfort, health and productivity of
each individual while saving energy.
Electric lighting fixtures would be very efficient and fixture placement would focus on delivering light to
where tasks are performed. Light systems would also be controlled by automated motion/heat sensors
so that electric lights would turn on when someone entered a room and turn off automatical y when the
last person left. Light intensity sensors would also dim or turn electric lights off according to the amount
of daylight available. Potential y, the range of light levels in a room would be infinitely adjustable by its
Buildings would also be designed or remodeled to avoid external and internal heat gain. This would be
accomplished through the thoughtful placement and choice of windows, and by using the most energy
efficient machinery and office equipment available. Commercially available openable windows have 7
times the insulation value as do the single pane windows widely used today. More advanced window
designs can double and perhaps even triple the efficiency of the commercially available windows used
now. Some computers and monitors use a fraction of the energy to do the same work as do others and
therefore greatly reduce heat gain from these sources.
Although buildings with features like those just described would require very little cooling, any cooling
needed would be provided by instal ing heat-absorbent pipes horizontal y below the ground. When
cooling is required, air collected in natural y cool places like in the shade of a tree, would be drawn by a
fan through the buried pipes. As it passes through the pipes the air would be further cooled by the earth
before it was discharged to cool the building. The air temperature a few feet below the surface of the
earth is usually around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
In most situations, this system alone would be sufficient to cool thoughtfully designed buildings. Where
air conditioning cannot be avoided, earth-cooled air would save energy and money by reducing the
amount of cooling that air conditioners would have to provide.
If all costs are considered, direct solar energy is the most cost-effective energy source available in our
region for heating space and water, and for producing steam and drying heat needed for many
industrial processes. Selective surface* flat plate collectors can produce steam even when it is
overcast. Concentrating tracking collectors can deliver steam at 600 degrees centigrade (1,112
degrees Fahrenheit) or more on clear sunny days. Back-up energy for these processes will be provided
by solar generated electricity--primarily from solar PV panels mounted on roofs, parking areas, and
other areas where shade is desirable.
(*Selective surfaces are special surfaces that are very good at absorbing and converting light energy
into heat energy while not letting heat energy escape once it's absorbed.)
Industries, their machinery, and the electric motors that power them would also be much more efficient
than today. Most of this technology is already available, and in most cases, its installation will pay for
itself just in energy savings in 5 years or less. (49)
Whether industrial, commercial, or residential, new buildings would not be built in areas that are subject
to flooding or earthquake damage due to liquefaction. As buildings already located in these areas wore
out, they would be dismantled, recycled and rebuilt in safer locations as needed.
Efficient Water Use
Although water consumption per capita cannot be reduced as much as energy, good, efficient water-
use strategies can cut water consumption substantially without changing water-use benefits or
lifestyles. In other words, people could shower, bathe, flush toilets and use washers for clothing and
dishes just as now, but all the toilets, showerheads and appliances would be designed to maximize
efficient water use.
Landscaping, to the casual observer would appear to be much the same as today with perhaps a bit
less grass. Vegetation used in landscaping would be drawn from a large palette of luxuriant, drought-
tolerant native and introduced plants. Drought-tolerant plants that produce useful material and food
would also be an important consideration in selecting trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Where
irrigation is desired, it would be supplied by water-efficient irrigation technologies like drip irrigation
controlled automatically by soil moisture sensors installed in the soil. These sensors, called
tensiometers, ensure that irrigation water is only applied when there is a real need. (50)
In addition to efficient water use, water resources would be stretched through water reuse. Homes with
yards would be equipped with gray water systems that would filter and disinfect bath, washing machine
and sink water so it can be used for irrigation. Sewage water, unpolluted by harmful industrial or
domestic chemicals and heavy metals, would be recycled and disinfected. Then it would be used to
irrigate farms and landscaping. Sewage solids would be composted and used for fertilizer. During rainy
periods, recycled water would be stored in separate, non-potable underground tanks and used for
irrigation when rainfall is insufficient.
Water Collection and Storage
Fresh water would be collected from general rainwater runoff and from impervious surfaces and from
groundwater. Using renewable energy to convert seawater into fresh water would also augment
supplies that can be sustainably col ected from the land. Water col ected from al available potable
sources would be stored in underground tanks as discussed in Part 2.
In a sustainable economy future, most of the food consumed in the region would be grown and
processed local y. Water is scarce, but the more we move agricultural production into water recycling
greenhouses, the more food we can grow, even if rainfall averages in our region continue to decline.
See Food Security in Part II for more details.
Clearly, maximizing regional self-sufficiency and sustainability has many economic and security
benefits. This is especially true as it relates to fundamental necessities like energy, water and food.
Making our regional economy more self-sufficient and sustainable will increase business and well
paying job opportunities. It will also make the world a happier and more secure place, locally and
From a local government perspective, new business and employment would add sales and property tax
revenue to municipal coffers. It would also reduce municipal costs by reducing crime and social
problems. Additionally, unemployment insurance and Social Security reserves will grow.
The land-use aspects of regional sustainability would also reduce municipal costs. If we don't build in
floodplains, we won't have to pay for infrastructure repairs when floods and earthquakes occur.
With more wel paid jobs, people will be able to purchase more of the things they need and want. This
will generate sales tax revenue. With more money in local circulation, more people can qualify to
purchase a home or purchase or start a business. This would increase property values and thus
increase property tax revenues. With more money in people's pockets, more people would be able to
afford a comfortable, safe place to live. This would benefit the rental market. Additionally, with reduced
municipal costs and increased revenue pouring into municipal coffers, there would be plenty of money
to solve the social problems that expanding business and full employment don't solve.
In addition to the economic, social and spiritual benefits discussed above, using resources more
efficiently, and developing those available in the region sustainability, would provide a number of other
+ Efficient resource use and regional resource development bring the added security of being less
vulnerable to resource delivery cutoffs and corporate and politically-generated price fluctuations.
+ Efficiency and renewable resource development would also reduce pollution and ecological damage
in general. As pol ution is reduced, we will be healthier, happier, and more productive. With less
damage to the region's ecology, less money is needed for cleanups and repairs.
There is also the aesthetic value of living in a pristine environment where the air and water are clean,
the food tasty, nutritious, and pesticide free, and where the landscape is beautiful and rich in plant and
Although these benefits are less easy to quantify, their dol ar value is at least as great as the economic
benefits described earlier. If considered from an overal quality of life and sustainability perspective, the
value of these benefits is infinite.
I do a lot of public lectures on creating sustainable economies and ways of life regionally and planet-
wide. After I've given one of these presentations, I'm often asked if I think we can make it. By this, the
questioner means, "will we make the economic and lifestyle changes needed to sustain our planet's life
support system soon enough to avoid a catastrophic decline?" My answer to this question is, I don't
Do I think it is possible? Yes I do. The potential is definitely there and potentially infinite. If enough of us
decide that we want an economy and way of life that is humane and life-support sustaining, there is no
question in my mind that we can create it.
Obviously, I'm personally committed to this path. I look forward to working with you toward this goal
along the way.
1. It is assumed in this paper that the meltdown of one of the region's several nuclear reactors or the
loss of water in one of their spent fuel rod storage ponds, whether the result of a terrorist attack or an
accident, will not happen. If it did, the only long range planning we'd be doing would be calculating how
many decades or centuries we would have to wait until our region would be safe to inhabit again.
2. Author's calculations based on balancing account data supplied by the California Energy
Commission and our local utility watchdog, UCAN (Utility Consumer Action Network). The balancing
account, which we are still paying off, topped out at $648,745,000. Additionally, there were several
months of price gouging, that took place before the rate was capped and the balancing account set up,
that were not included in my calculations.
3. Conversation with Patrick (Pat) L. Abbott, Ph.D., Professor of Geological Sciences, San Diego State
4. Just considering insurance rate increases related to global warming, a recent world conference of re-
insurers reported that global climate changes (more severe storms and rising sea levels) could cost the
world economy $300 billion per year. ("Climate Change Costs Could Top $300 Billion Annual y,"
Environmental News Service, (Feb 5, 2001).
5. The $20 billion figure is an estimate based on data taken from the SAN DIEGO REGIONAL
ENERGY PLAN, Volume 2, published in December 1994 by SANDAG. Also see NEWS, Published by
the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, released April 18, 2002, (Consumer
Spending Patterns in San Diego, 1999-2000.) Although this $20 billion figure is more or less accurate
today, it could ratchet up rapidly if there is any serious restriction on the flow of energy, water or food to
our region. Our recent energy crisis is a graphic example of how price-explosive such occurrences can
6. Just as for longtime residents, almost all the money tourists and new residents spend for imported
energy, water and food is exported to where the energy, water and food came from. If the region were
energy, water and food self-sufficient, all the money spent on energy, water and food would be kept in
our local economy, benefiting everyone's bottom line.
7. Clark, Mary E. Contemporary Biology. W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, London, Toronto,
(1979): p. 152.
8. Brown, Lester R. et al. The Earth Policy Reader. Earth Policy Institute. W. W. Norton & Company,
New York, London. (2002): p. 95. For a quick tutorial of what's happening to U.S. and world soils, I
suggest you also read pages 31-37 & 195-199 in Brown's book.
9. The numbers in this paragraph are based on the following assumptions:
+A. There are 1,000 square feet of roof and parking lot per capita in San Diego County and that this will
be more or less true through 2050. By multiplying 1,000 square feet by the population in the County in
any particular year you get the amount of roofs and parking lots in the County in that year. In 2005 the
population of the County was 3,066,820. Multiplying 3,066,820 by 1,000 square feet equals
3,066,820,000 square feet. Dividing 3,066,820,000 square feet by 27,878,400 square feet per square
mile equals 110 square miles of roofs and parking lots in San Diego County in 2005. Multiplying the
County's population this book assumes for 2050 of 3,915,085 by 1,000 square feet per capita equals
3,915,085,000 square feet. Dividing 3,915,085,000 square feet by 27,878,400 square feet per square
mile equals 140.43 square miles of roofs and parking lots in 2050.
For details on the research that went into arriving at the 1,000 square feet of roofs and parking lots per
capita, See the last paragraph of this footnote for details.
+B. Also assumed is that on average 40 kWh of energy are consumed in the County per capita per day.
Electricity supplies 15.8 kWh and 24.2 kWh of other energy sources like gasoline, diesel, natural gas,
propane, etc., and that this will remain the same through 2050 with zero efficiency improvements.
Multiplying 40 kWh per day by the County's population in any particular year equals the amount of kWh
of energy is used in the county on average per day. For example, multiplying the county's 2005
population of 3,066,820 by 40 kWh per day equals 122,672,800 kWh per day used on average County-
wide. Multiplying 122,672,800 kWh per day by 2 square meters (107 square feet) per kWh produced on
average per day equals 245,345,600 square meters. Multiplying 245,345,600 square meters by 3.86 x
10 to the minus 7 (the constant for converting square meters into square miles) equals 94.7 square or
86% of the County's 110 square miles of roofs and parking lots in that year. If energy use efficiency had
been improved by an average of 40% across all energy use sectors in 2005, only 56.46 square miles or
51% of the County's roofs and parking lots would have needed to be covered by PV panels for the
County to net-meter-out across all energy use sectors. Net-metering-out in all energy use sectors
means that San Diego County would be pushing enough electricity into the Western States grid each
year to match the amount of energy that was imported into the County that year.
Explaining the discrepancy between the roof and parking lot projections in this 2nd edition of
this book compared with the book's firsts first edition. In the book's first addition it was assumed
that there was 500 square miles of roofs and parking lots in San Diego County in 2002. This 500
square mile figure for county land already covered by buildings and parking lots was derived from a
land use analysis of San Diego County provided by SANDAG which lists 96 land use categories and
the number of acres each land use category occupies. In my analysis, I looked at each category and
estimated the amount of land in each category that would be covered by buildings and parking lots. For
example, for the category of educational facilities, I assumed that on average, school properties are 50
percent covered by buildings and parking lots. In the case of industrial parks I assumed 90 percent
coverage. For the open space category, currently 50 percent of the county's land area, I assumed zero
buildings and parking lots even though there are obviously some buildings and parking lots associated
with open space management and to accommodate visitors.
After assigning a percentage of buildings and parking lot coverage to all 96-land use categories and
then adding them up, the total was 576 square miles. To be conservative, I've used 500 square miles
for al related calculations. (Note: In an earlier version of this book I used the figure of 300 square miles
of buildings and parking lots in San Diego County to be extra conservative. After reviewing my
calculations however, I concluded that the 500 square mile figure I was using in the first addition of this
book as still conservative and closer to reality.
Well I was wrong. Instead of 500 sq. miles of roofs and parking lots in the county in 2002, it was 106.4
I found this out after the first addition of this book came out when I had the chance to do some original
research on a map of Chula Vista. This map is 10' long and 6' wide. It is so detailed that cars can be
seen in parking lots with the naked eye.
The bottom line of the map's analysis is that there is about 1,000 square feet of roof and parking lot
area per Chula Vista resident. Based on this estimate, this second edition assumes 1,000 square feet of
roofs and parking lots per resident in San Diego County as a whole. Multiplying 1,000 square feet per
resident by the County's population for any given year gives us the total square feet of roofs and
parking lots in the County that year. This number is then converted to square miles. While this number
will gradual y go down as tal er buildings replace shorter ones, given our current tendency for sprawl the
1,000 square feet per person figure probably won't change much in the near future and may even get
larger before it gets smaller. The 106.4 square miles of roof and parking lot area in 2002 was arrive at
by multiplying 1,000 sq.' per capita by the County's 2002 population of 2,966,151 which equals
2,966,151,000 sq.' Dividing 2,966,151,000 sq.' by 27,878,400 sq.' per sq. mile equals 106.4 sq. miles.
Note: To determine the 1,000 sq.' of roofs and parking lots per capita number, from the Chula Vista
map described above, the methodology consisted of dividing Chula Vista's developed lands into 48
areas of development then subtracting parks, playing fields, wildlife areas, freeways and major roads,
from each area. After these non-roof and parking lot areas were subtracted, the remaining developed
lands West of the 805 Freeway were multiplied by 50% and those East of the 805 Freeway were
multiplied by 36%. The resultant numbers, 2,85 square miles west of 805 and 4.05 east of it were
added together for a total of 6.85 square miles. Multiplying 6.85 square miles by 27,878,400 square feet
per square mile equals 190,967,040 square feet. Dividing 190,967,040 square feet by Chula Vista's
2002 population of 190,900 equals 1,000 square feet of roof and parking lot per Chula Vista resident in
2002. The 50% multiplier used on the west side of 805 and the 36% multiplier used east of it are
estimates based on a visual assessment of the lot coverage in Chula Vista, West and East of 805.
These estimates are also consistent with the lot coverage and parking regulations found in the City of
Chula Vista Municipal Code, reprint of Title 19, Zoning January 2004, pp. 19-64, 19-65, 19-68, 19-72,
19-78, 19-81, 19-83, 19-86, 19-89, 19-91, 19-94, 19-97, 19-100, 19-103, 19-105, 19-119, 19-128, 19-
131, 19-139, 19-142, 19-153, 19-176, 19-177, 19-237.
10. Marion, William and Stephen Wilcox. Solar Radiation Data Manual for Flat-plate and Concentrating
Collectors. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Midwest Research
Institute, Contract # DE-ACO2-83CH-10093, (April 1994): p. 42. This manual shows that each square
meter of horizontal surface in San Diego County intercepts, on average, 5.0 kWh of direct solar energy
each day. Converting 5.0 kWh of sunlight into electricity at an efficiency of 10 percent equals an
average of .5 kWh of electricity per square meter per day or 182.5 kWh per square meter per year.
All the electricity sold in 2002 in SDG&E' s service area (San Diego County and part of Orange County)
for al purposes equals 17.83 billion kWh. Dividing 17.83 billion kWh sold by SDG&E in its service area
by the service area's population of 3.09 million equals 5,770 kWh per year per capita or 15.8 kWh per
person per day.
Assuming the same consumption level for the 2.9 million San Diego County residents, 2.9 million x 15.8
kWh per day equals 45,820,000 kWh per day. Dividing 45,820,000 kWh per day by .5 kWh per day per
square meter equals 91,640,000 square meters. Multiplying 91,640,000 square meters by 3.86 x 10 to
the -7 (the constant to convert square meters into square miles) = 35.4 square miles. Dividing 35.4
square miles by 106.4 square miles of buildings and parking lots = 32.4 percent coverage. In other
words, covering 32.4 percent of the county's buildings and parking lots with solar (PV) panels would
produce enough electricity for San Diego County to net-meter-out for electricity. (Net metering out
means that solar (PV) panels installed in San Diego County would be pumping as many kWh of
electricity into the Western States Grid each year as the grid supplies to our county each year.)
11. To replace all the energy services (assuming 40 kWh per capita per day for 2.9 mil ion people in
2002) currently supplied to our region by imported electricity, natural gas, gasoline and diesel with solar
generated electricity would require 89.6 square miles of solar PV panel coverage. Dividing 89.6 square
miles by 106.4 square miles of buildings and parking lots equals 84.2 percent coverage.
Note: Some estimates for the amount of kWh of electricity sold by SDG&E in 2002 are lower than the
17.83 billion kWh used in these calculations. If in the final analyses the amount of electricity sold to San
Diego County in 2002 is lower than the estimate I'm using, it only means that we would need less than
84.2% coverage of our buildings and parking lots to become renewable energy self-sufficient for
electricity even with out efficient energy use improvements and less than .
In addition to making the our region energy self-sufficient, covering an additional 8.3 square miles of
roofs and parking lots with PV systems would generate enough electricity to replace all the freshwater
(600.000 acre feet) used in San Diego County in 2002 if used to power large scale reverse osmosis
systems to convert seawater into freshwater. With large scale reverse osmosis, each kWh will produce
50 gal ons of freshwater from seawater. See footnote (37) for details. Assuming that "greater Tijuana's"
population was the same as San Diego County's population in 2002, installing 8.3 square miles of
additional PV systems on the roofs and parking lots would provide enough freshwater for Tijuana
residents to enjoy the same average amount of freshwater per capita as their San Diego County
neighbors. Eight and three tenths square miles equals 7.8% of roofs and parking lots in San Diego
County. As of this writing, no reliable data has been found to determine the square miles of roofs and
parking lots in greater Tijuana.
12. Covering 36 percent of our county's buildings and parking lots would produce twice as much energy
each year as is currently used. At $.10 per kWh, this would add an additional $6 billion to our region's
economy each year. The $6 billion we return by becoming energy self-sufficient, plus the $6 bil ion we
would earn by selling excess production into the grid would add $12 billion to our local economy each
year and $24 billion in new economic activity each year via the economic multiplier benefit.
In other words, the more excess capacity we have to convert free solar energy into electricity, the more
money we can make selling energy into the grid. As of this writing, there are California state institutional
hurdles to overcome to be an equal player as energy suppliers, but these hurdles, which are largely
illogical and anti-free-market, can be changed by working with our local state assembly members and
13. The 10 percent coverage number assumes that the aggressive pursuit of efficient energy-use
improvements could reduce energy consumption in San Diego County by 50 percent with equal or
better energy-use services than we have today. If this efficiency level were achieved, we could increase
regional economic activity by $24 billion each year by covering only 28 percent of the county's building
and parking lots with solar panels. Remember, the 36 percent coverage figure used in footnote (12)
assumes no energy-efficiency improvements.
14. The $6 billion figure for the amount of dollars exported each year to pay for imported electricity,
natural gas, gasoline, diesel and propane is an estimate derived from the fol owing sources: SAN
DIEGO REGIONAL ENERGY PLAN, Volume 2, published in December 1994 by SANDAG. Also see
NEWS, Published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, released April 18, 2002,
(Consumer Spending Patterns in San Diego, 1999-2000.). With upward volatility in energy costs, this
$6 billion figure can rise rapidly.
15. Bell, Jim. Achieving Eco-nomic Security On Spaceship Earth. Ecological Life Systems Institute Inc.,
December (1995): pp. 6-7. My research shows that if all the health costs related to our dependence on
non-renewable energy resources were included when we purchased energy, the price would double.
Everyone breathes, drinks and eats the pollution from our present energy system. When we ingest
these pollutants they stress our bodies. This is most evident during respiratory distress attacks as with
asthma. But because most of these energy production pollutants are also known carcinogens they
increase the rate of cancer across the board. Instead of paying these energy costs up front, we pay at
the hospital, doctor's office and for health insurance or in just feeling lousy when we could feel good if
the air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat were energy production pol ution free.
16. "Climate Change Costs Could Top $300 Billion Annually," Environmental News Service, Feb 5,
17. Bear in mind that the $6 per capita per day cost for energy used in the text only includes what we
pay at the pump and for electricity and natural gas. Not included in this $6 per-day-energy-cost-per-
capita estimate is the energy consumed in delivering imported raw materials to our industries and farms
or the energy consumed in producing and delivering imported manufactured and agricultural products
to our regional markets and ultimately to our homes. If the cost of this energy is included, the $6 dollar
per day figure cited could double again. If the environmental costs that come with using fossil fuels and
nuclear power are included, the per capita dollar cost will be higher still.
When we add the military costs of keeping imported energy supply lines open, the true-cost of energy
climbs even higher. See Amory and Hunter Lovins titled "Winning the Peace," RMI Newsletter, Vol. VII,
No. 1, (Spring 1991): p.1. This article showed that the cost of Middle East oil would be $100 a barrel if
the military cost of keeping oil supply lines open were included in its price. Bear in mind that this
estimate was in 1991.
18. Author's calculations based on data from State of California, Department of Water Resources.
Evaporation from Water Resources in California. Bulletin No. 73-1, State of California, May 1974. With
global warming and reduced cloud cover due to fewer storms, evaporation losses are probably
19. Locating underground tanks in the communities they serve increases community water security.
Reservoirs formed by dams are often considerable distances from the population centers they serve.
Even if a dam survives a severe earthquake, it is quite likely that the piping system from the dam to
where the water is needed will fail. When water is stored in the community it serves, even if piping
systems are severely damaged, water can still be pumped out of storage tanks and distributed through
temporary pipes and fire hoses until normal delivery systems are repaired. Since fires often accompany
earthquakes, community-based water storage would also aid in their control. An added bonus of having
community-based tanks could be a reduction in fire insurance premiums. Tank covers also protect
stored water from air-borne pol ution.
20. Ibid. Around 50 percent of the pollution absorbed by open reservoirs comes from polluted air.
21. An urban network of underground tanks would be less vulnerable to sabotage than the typical open
storage system. If a tank or even several tanks were damaged or contaminated, the impact on water
security would be less than if a single large reservoir were contaminated or if its containment dam
failed. It would require many tanks to store the same quantity of water as is stored in one large open
reservoir. Thus it would require the contamination or failure of many tanks to reduce water security to
the degree that the failure or contamination of one large reservoir would cause. Their number,
distribution, and the fact that they would be covered means that it would be more difficult for one or
even a small number of people to contaminate a significant amount of water. With open reservoirs, this
is not the case. Covered tanks also reduce the potential for large scale water supply contamination
from toxic air pol ution, whether released intentional y or accidentally.
22. Covered underground tanks are less vulnerable to earthquakes than are dams. Large impoundment
dams are very tall, some over 300 feet, and must be able to totally support the water stored behind
them. Additionally, the weight of water behind dams can actually trigger earthquakes. Tank wal s are
shorter, usual y less than 50 feet. The cylindrical shape of tanks also makes them very strong.
Additionally, the walls of underground tanks get extra support from the earth that is packed in around
them after they are completed. With much smaller volumes of water stored in each tank, it is much less
likely that tank storage would trigger an earthquake, especially considering that the water stored in an
underground tank wil be lighter than the earth removed to accommodate the tank. The removed earth
would be processed to reclaim its topsoil, extract sand for beach replenishment, and to repair soil
erosion problems throughout our region.
23. When dams are built, they flood large tracts of land behind them.
24. When dams fail, downstream flooding can have catastrophic and life threatening consequences.
With underground tank storage this threat is eliminated. If an underground tank fails, the water in
storage will be contained by the surrounding earth. At worst, the released water would slowly seep
away. This would give plenty of time to pump the escaping water to another storage facility or to
dissipate it safely.
25. Since the earth below ground level is relatively cool (usually around 55 degrees Fahrenheit in
temperate climates), underground tanks and the water they contain will also remain close to that
temperature. During periods of warm humid air, this air would be drawn into cool tank environments. As
the humid air cools, some of the water it contains will condense out and thereby increase the amount of
water in storage. While the quantity of water that can be collected in this way is not large, if combined
with the water not lost to evaporation, the net gain is substantial. Adding condensed water to storage
also improves water quality. Water condensed out of the air contains no minerals and thus would
improve the quality of the water in storage by diluting its mineral concentration.
26. The technology for the construction of large underground water storage tanks is already wel
established. In fact, DYK Prestressed Tanks INC., based in El Cajon, builds underground water storage
tanks all over the world. The number of tanks, their capacities, and their locations would depend on a
community's geology, topography, population, population distribution and the desired level of water
security. The more tanks a community builds, the more water-secure they will be. Since tank covers are
supported structurally by columns, the areas over them can be used as parks and community gardens
and for recreational activities like tennis, basketbal , baseball, and soccer, or any combination of the
above, depending on community choice.
27. Although residential water use accounts for only about 8% of the water used in the United States,
from an ecological security perspective it is important to use water more efficiently on every front. Using
residential water more efficiently also makes good economic sense. This reality has many
municipalities and agencies getting on the efficiency bandwagon. In the San Diego County part of our
region some water agencies offer rebates, $75 for ultra-low-flow toilets and $125 for efficient clothes
washers. Call your water agency for details. The City of Glendale in Arizona passed an ordinance that
gives residents up to a $100 cash rebate for installing low-flow toilets (1.6 gallons or less). This is
because city leaders realized that rebating toilets was much less expensive than increasing water
supplies and sewer capacity. The California Department of Water Conservation estimates "that
installing a low-flow toilet can save a family of four $25 to $50 a year on water bills." The producers of
Consumer Reports magazine reported an even larger savings potential. "By our own calculations, an
average family that uses municipal water can save as much as $50 to $75 per year on water and sewer
bills by switching to low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets." In addition to saving money on water,
low-flow showerheads and water efficient appliances also save on energy costs. Just changing from a 6
gal on-per-minute to a 2 gallon-per-minute showerhead can save more than half the energy used in a
home to heat water. This can be as much as $50 per year. Faucet restrictors, automatic shutoff faucets,
and water-efficient appliances can also save water and energy. Faucet flow restrictors and automatic
shutoff faucets can cut the use of sink water in half while reducing energy consumption for water
heating. State-of-the-art washers and dishwashers use only 70 to 75 percent of the water and energy
consumed by less efficient models. The Staber System 2000 washing machine uses only half the
water and the energy of similar models. If all the efficiency measures just described were in general
use, household water consumption in the U.S. could be reduced by 70% or more. Water use can be
further reduced through the use of dry or composting toilets. Composting toilets come in a variety of
designs ranging from the old-fashioned outhouse to the modern chambered versions installed in
bathrooms. In these toilets, wastes are composted and the composted residues are periodically
removed and used as fertilizer. These modern systems usually include a port for adding kitchen scraps
that are composted along with toilet wastes. Sawdust or other similar material is added after each use
to control odors. Some composting toilets work better than others so do your homework if you are
considering a purchase.
Climate-appropriate landscaping can significantly reduce residential water use. In low- rainfall areas,
the amount of water used for residential landscape irrigation can average 50 or more gal ons per day
per capita. The use of water-efficient irrigation equipment and landscaping strategies and plants that
are climate suitable, can greatly reduce this requirement. Efficient water use in landscaping does not
mean that landscaping themes have to be sparse. Even in arid areas, there are numerous beautiful
plants from which to select. Nor does such a strategy preclude having a vegetable garden, fruit trees, or
grass. Reducing water use in other parts of a landscape, coupled with gray-water use frees up water for
If climate-appropriate landscaping is combined with water-efficient irrigation equipment, even more
water can be saved. Water-efficient irrigation equipment ranges from various drip irrigation systems and
low flow drip emitters and sprinklers to sophisticated irrigation control tools called tensiometers.
Tensiometers are electronic devices that are installed in the soil where they measure soil moisture
content. They can be read and water applied accordingly or they can be used to activate automated
irrigation systems when water is needed.
As far as climate appropriate plants to choose from, there are literal y hundreds of attractive drought-
tolerant trees, shrubs, vines, and ground covers that can be included as part of a low-water-use
landscape palette. Additionally, there are numerous drought-tolerant plants that produce food and other
useful materials. These plants include the California black walnut tree, the fig family, the oriental
persimmon, the quince tree, members of the grape family, the guava family, loquat trees, aloe,
bamboo, and many more.
Even modest efforts toward coupling water-efficient irrigation systems with climate-appropriate plants in
landscaping could cut irrigation requirements in low-rainfall areas in half. If climate appropriate plants
are used exclusively, irrigation requirements can be reduced to zero after plants become established. If
gray-water recycling systems are incorporated, even relatively water-intensive landscapes can be
successful without using potable water for irrigation.
28. Changes in operational strategies and manufacturing processes can increase efficient water use
even more. In 1978, U.S. manufacturing industries used each unit of water 3 to 4 times before it was
discharged. It was predicted at the time that by the year 2,000 the water-reuse rate for industry would
have increased to over 17 times before discharge. As of yet my research has not turned up any studies
to confirm that prediction, but in a telephone conversation an EPA water expert said that industrial
water recycling has increased substantially since 1978 but he did not have a definitive study that gave
Even in the 1980's, some innovative firms were already approaching or exceeded this 17 time reuse
level of efficiency. Pioneer Metal Finishing, a plating firm in New Jersey, exceeded this goal by
developing a water recycling process that totally eliminates sewer discharge. In the Pioneer process, all
water is recycled and most of the chemicals and metals extracted from it are reused. Pioneer is now
looking for a use for the small quantity of dry residue left over from their recycling operation. "Armco
steel mill in Kansas City, Missouri, which manufactures steel bars from recycled ferrous scrap, (scrap
iron and steel), draws into the mill only 9 cubic meters of water per ton of steel produced, compared
with as much as 100-200 cubic meters per ton in many other steel mills--the Armco plant uses each
liter of water 16 times before releasing it after final treatment, to the river." "One paper mill in Hadera,
Israel, requires only 12 cubic meters of water per ton of paper (produced), whereas many of the world's
paper mills use 7-10 times this amount."
Water use in industry can also be cut by using non-chemical water treatment processes to prevent
biological fouling and water-scale buildup in boilers, water lines, and cooling systems. Non-chemical
water treatment consists of exposing water to magnetic and electrostatic fields to prevent mineral scale
from attaching itself to pipes and other metal surfaces and to remove such deposits where they already
exist. Non-chemical treatment also creates an environment hostile to the growth of water-borne
bacteria, fungus, and algae.
The buildup of scale and bacterial slime reduces the efficiency of heating and cooling systems by
restricting water flow rates and by insulating heat exchange elements. A 1/16- inch-scale buildup
requires 15% more fuel to achieve the same heating results. A 1/4-inch-buildup increases fuel
consumption by 39%.
In the U.S., chemicals have been the predominant method used for treating such problems. But
chemical treatments are labor and material intensive because they need regular chemical mixture
adjustments. Maintenance is also high because chemical treatments reduce the rate of scale buildup
but do not prevent it. This means that heating and cooling systems have to be drained and manually
cleaned on a regular basis. Additionally, all the water in chemical y treated systems must be periodically
purged because evaporation losses increase the concentrations of chemicals and minerals beyond
acceptable levels. This purging wastes water and releases treatment chemicals like algaecides,
fungicides, bactericides, and phosphates into the environment.
Non-chemical treatment minimizes or avoids most of these problems. Although they have been slow to
catch on in the U.S., non-chemical treatment systems have been the preferred treatment choice in
Europe and in the Russian Commonwealth for decades. But this is changing as is evidenced by the
numerous high-profile firms like Kodak, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Ford Motors, Holiday Inn, Pepsi Cola,
Coca Cola, Marriott, and Bantam Books that have already switched to non-chemical treatment
29. Bell, Jim. Achieving Eco-nomic Security On Spaceship Earth. Ecological Life Systems Institute Inc.,
December (1995): p. 84. Today, the most prevalent form of irrigation in the world is to periodically flood
fields with water. This form of irrigation is inexpensive to establish where land is flat but is it is not
particularly efficient. This is because a large percentage of water will run off fields unless they are
perfectly level, (little land is) before it has time to soak into the soil. In porous soils, substantial
quantities of water can be lost because it percolates to underground levels beyond the reach of plant
roots. If this water returns to the aquifer from which it was extracted, this can be positive but not if the
water becomes contaminated with pesticides, chemical fertilizers and salt along the way. Sprinkler
systems are generally more water-efficient than flooding because the amount of water applied and the
evenness of its distribution is more easily regulated. On the negative side, sprinkler systems are
expensive to install and maintain. Sprinkler systems also increase the amount of water lost to
evaporation. Water evaporation is increased as it is dispersed in small droplets through the air and as
water sits on plant foliage. Such losses can be avoided to a large extent if sprinklers are used at night
when the humidity is usual y higher than during the day.
The efficiency of large sprinkler systems can also be enhanced by attaching "drop tubes" to sprinkler
arms. To reduce evaporation losses, drop tubes deliver water closer to the ground and in large
droplets. The efficiency of flooding and sprinkler systems can be improved if fields are precisely
leveled. Laser technology can be used to guide farm equipment to insure accurate leveling.
Drip irrigation, a technology developed in the 1960s in Israel, is a further advancement in the efficient
use of water for growing plants. This method delivers water directly to each plant by means of smal
tubes that supply just enough water to saturate plant root zones. Other drip technologies include soaker
hoses and various specialized emitters suitable for different crops. Soaker hoses, for example, are
good for many row crops because they weep water along their whole length. Drip irrigation devices can
be used on the surface, on the surface below mulch, or below the surface depending on plant
requirements. Losses to evaporation can be almost completely eliminated when emitters are installed
below mulch or beneath the soil surface.
While drip equipment is relatively costly, increased crop yields coupled with money saved by reducing
water consumption can result in a quick payback on the investment. In Israel, where drip systems are
used to "supply water and fertilizer directly onto or below the soil...experiments in the Negev Desert
have shown... yield increases of 80 percent over sprinkler systems."
Computer technologies are also being mobilized to increase water-use efficiency in agriculture. One
device cal ed a tensiometer measures the moisture content of the soil and the amount of moisture in
the soil that is actually available to plants. This second feature is important because some soils, like
those with a high clay content, are so absorptive that they do not give up the water they hold easily to
plants. Sandy soils, on the other hand, do not hold water like clay soils. They may have a relatively low
moisture content but almost all the moisture in a sandy soil is available to plants. When tensiometers
sense that the moisture content of a particular soil is too low to meet plant needs, they activate an
automated irrigation system. Tensiometers can also be read manually for more low-tech applications.
Automated irrigation systems can be programmed so that irrigation water is only applied at night to
minimize losses to evaporation. Automated systems can also be designed to detect leaks, compensate
for wind speed, control the application of fertilizer, and optimize the effect of the fertilizer used. Though
they are costly to install, such "systems typically pay for themselves within 3 to 5 years through water
and energy savings (using less water means that less energy is needed for pumping) and higher crop
Another development in the efficient water-use arsenal is to combine water-efficient technologies with
weather monitoring programs. The University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural
Resources has developed a computer program cal ed "IRRIGATE" that compiles information gathered
across the state of Nebraska from small weather stations. By calling a telephone hot line, farmers can
"find out the amount of water used by their crops the preceding week, and then adjust their scheduled
irrigation dates accordingly." The California Department of Water Resources is involved in a similar
program called the California Irrigation Management System or CIMIS. The aim of CIMIS is to save 740
million cubic meters of water annually by the year 2010. (740 million cubic meters equals a little more
than 600,000 acre feet or about the same amount of water used in San Diego County today.) Like
Nebraska and California, Wisconsin has developed its own system of weather monitoring to assist
farmers. This system, which is called the Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program (WISP), is managed
by irrigation specialists through the University of Wisconsin.
32. Growing climate-appropriate crops is another way to use water more efficiently in agriculture. With
water-efficient cropping, the water requirements of a particular crop should be reasonably close to the
natural precipitation that could be expected in the climate zone where it is grown. Irrigation could still be
used, but only to even out yearly rainfal totals and as a way to supply water during periods when
rainfall is below normal.
To date, research in the development and use of low-water-use crops has been poorly funded. The
dol ars that are spent are usual y spent on water conservation, but mostly to reduce the water
consumption of existing crops. Nevertheless, there are a number of promising plants now being grown,
some commercially and others experimentally. Sweet sorghum, for example, is already widely grown. It
requires a third less water and half the fertilizer required by corn to produce a crop and sweet sorghum
is an excellent animal food. Currently, most of the corn grown in the U.S. is used for animal feed.
According to Steve Staffer, an alternative crop expert with the California Department of Agriculture,
sweet sorghum can also outperform corn as an energy crop. An acre of corn can be processed into 360
gal ons of ethanol. Processing an acre of sorghum can produce 600 gal ons. Staffer estimates that by
growing low-water-use plants like sorghum, "California could produce 25% to 30% of its energy needs,
without affecting our price of food".
Given Staffer's projections, producing ethanol from sorghum alone could more than supply all the
energy needed in California today if the efficiency measures described earlier were in place.
Other promising low-water-use crops include:
Canola, a seed bearing plant, which is used to produce one of the healthiest cooking oils around.
Canola requires a fraction of the water needed by many other crops grown in the Sacramento,
Buffalo Gourd, a perennial that is native to the Mojave Desert, has seeds that can be processed into
lubrication oil and a starchy root that can be used to make alcohol;
Guayule, a plant that yields rubber;
Kanaf, an African plant which can be used as food, clothing fiber, packing material, carpet backing, and
as high quality newsprint that is so absorbent that the hands of newspaper readers stay clean;
Tepary bean, a drought-tolerant high-yield food crop that contains as much if not more protein than
most edible legume crops;
Hemp, though much maligned, is an energy, fiber, food, resin, soil-improving and medicinal crop. Its
seeds produce some of the world's healthiest, most easily digested plant oil and protein and are used in
many health food products. Hemp was praised and grown by founding fathers like George Washington
and Thomas Jefferson. It was also grown during World War II as an essential fiber in support of the war
effort. Hemp is currently grown commercially in 24 countries including Canada, China, France, Britain,
Germany and Spain.
While the strategies discussed above to reduce water consumption in agriculture may seem obvious,
they are not necessarily used. This is because farmers who benefit from federal subsidies, which allow
them to purchase water at rates as low as 1/10 the price that urban dwel ers pay, have little incentive to
invest in efficient water-use strategies or grow more climate-appropriate crops.
In his book Cadil ac Desert, Marc Reisner points out that such subsidies lead us into absurd Alice in
Water Land situations. In 1986, four low value crops grown in California (pasture [grass and hay],
alfalfa, cotton, and rice) consumed 5.3, 3.9, 3.0, and 2.0 million acre feet of water respectively.
Added up, this is almost three times as much water as was consumed by the 27 million people living in
California at the time, including all the water they used to irrigate landscapes and keep swimming pools
full. Note: California's population today (2004) is over 38 million.
Even if all these low-value crops were total y discontinued and no more water-efficient crops were
grown in their place, the economic loss to the state would be less than one third of one percent of
California's yearly economy.
Additionally, if we converted a little more than half the land now used just to grow grass and hay to
grapes or other specialty crops with a similar or greater dollar value, the economic loss would be
erased. Grapes require roughly the same amount of water per acre as grass and hay pasture. Plus,
eliminating pasture irrigation for the remaining land would double the water available for urban uses.
This is a perfect example of how the lack of true-cost pricing promotes practices that are not in
anyone's long-term interest. Even farmers, whose over-irrigated soil is becoming increasingly
unproductive, as salt and other minerals are concentrated, will win.
A parallel aspect of growing low-water-use crops is related to the production of meat. Currently, "Over
half the total amount of water consumed in the United States goes to irrigate land growing feed for
livestock." To put this fact into perspective, a 50% reduction in the production of livestock national y
would free up almost twice as much water as is currently used in the U.S. domestical y, commercially,
and by industry combined. Though the production of meat in all its forms is water intensive, growing
beef requires the most water. It takes approximately 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef
(some water-use estimates are much higher). Given this 2,500 gal on figure, it takes up to 100 times
more water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce a pound of wheat. Rice requires more
water than any other grain, yet rice requires only a tenth as much water per pound as meat.
33. Primarily, this is because local farmers have been paying much higher prices for water than their
Imperial Valley and Central Val ey competitors.
34. In some states, home gray-water recycling is illegal. (Check with local health officials) The reason
for this prohibition is that gray water may be contaminated by harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Contamination can occur in a number of ways, such as washing diapers at temperatures too low to kill
harmful organisms, or from the smal amounts of fecal material that is washed off our bodies when we
bathe. For this reason, gray water that has not been disinfected should not be used to directly water
vegetable parts that are to be eaten raw or on lawn areas where direct human contact is likely.
Although the use of gray water could be potential y harmful, it's worth noting that health officials I
consulted knew of no documented case of illness caused by gray-water use even though it is used by
millions of people to one extent or another just in California. During times of drought, gray-water
recycling has been encouraged by state officials.
Since there is a small possibility that diseases could be transmitted by gray-water contact, gray water
should be used careful y. Gray water can be used safely to water fruit and other trees, or in
landscaping. It can also be used for vegetables if it is applied sub-surface with a soaker hose or by
some other sub-surface system. Sub-surface application is the most preferred way to use gray water
because direct exposure to gray water is eliminated and soil organisms kill pathogens.
Soaker hoses can also be used with relative safety on the surface in gardens since water applied by
them does not splash onto the edible parts of plants. Although the uptake of pathogens by root crops
does not take place, root crops watered with gray water should be carefully washed and/or well cooked
before they are consumed.
To maximize safety, gray water can be disinfected before it is applied. Historically, water has been
disinfected by adding chlorine. Chlorine does disinfect but its use can also result in the creation of
compounds like chloramine. Chloramine, which is toxic to soil and aquatic organisms, results when
chlorine reacts with the carbon in water-borne organic materials. If the level of organic materials is low,
the amount of chloramine created is small. But if the organic load is high, the amount of chloramine
produced becomes a problem. Chlorine is also toxic to soil and aquatic organisms but it dissipates
faster than chloramine.
If water is disinfected with ozone, this problem is avoided. Ozone, a form of oxygen that links three
atoms of oxygen together, is even more effective at killing pathogens than chlorine and does not cause
harmful side affects. It can also break down many organic pol utants and can be used to remove heavy
metals through a process of precipitation. Though the adoption of ozone water treatment systems in the
U.S. has been slow, ozonization has replaced chlorine in 99% of the swimming pools in Western
Soaps containing phosphates can also be used without negative consequences in most gray water
recycling situations. Phosphate is a much-maligned nutrient because it stimulates aquatic plant growth
in lakes and waterways. These plant "blooms" can cause fish to die from suffocation. At night, aquatic
plants need oxygen which they extract from the water. If the number of aquatic plants in a volume of
water is excessive, oxygen levels can drop below levels that can support fish.
Excessive plant growth also threatens fish with suffocation when plants die in the autumn. With large
quantities of dead plant material available, decay bacteria multiply rapidly. These bacteria require
oxygen and can quickly reduce the oxygen content in a body of water to levels below which fish can
survive. In soil, however, phosphate (unless too concentrated) is a nutrient readily usable by plants and
needs only to be avoided if there is a possibility that the phosphate will enter a waterway instead of
becoming part of a terrestrial plant system.
35. The complete Ecoparque treatment cycle takes less than 30 minutes.
36. Another potential system that fits the limited land and low evaporation needs of our region has been
developed by John Todd. Todd's system uses translucent tanks inside greenhouses to maximize
decomposition of organic solids. The nutrients released through this process are taken up by plants
through photosynthesis. As the wastewater flows through a series of semi-transparent tanks a complex
community of aquatic plants and animals purify the water by consuming and converting the organic
waste into animals and plants (biomass). At the end of the process, the clean water can be used for
irrigation or it can be safely discharged into streams. In addition to water, the process also produces a
crop of fish and other aquatic organisms and aquatic plants that can be composted and used as a soil
amendment. This system will work well in our region if its greenhouse enclosure is designed to capture
evaporated water and return it to the system.
37. Large scale reverse osmosis systems produce 50 gallons of freshwater from seawater per kWh of
electricity consumed. To produce 600,000 thousand acre feet of water each year (San Diego County's
current use) from solar generated electricity would require 8.3 square miles of solar panels using the
same assumption described in footnotes (10), (11), (12) and (13). Calculations currently San Diego
County uses 600,000 acre-feet of water each year. Six hundred thousand acre feet of water x 43,560
cu. feet per acre foot = 2.6 x 10 to the 10th power cu. foot of water x 7.48 gal ons of water per cu. foot =
1.96 x10 to the 11th power gal ons of water divided by 50 gallons of freshwater from seawater per kWh
of electricity consumed = 3,909,945,600 kWh per year divided by 365 days per year = 10,712,180 kWh
average per day divided by an average of .5 kWh of electricity produced per square meter each day =
21,424,360 square meters x 3.86 x 10 to the -7th power (the constant to convert square meters into
square miles) = 8.3 square miles. Eight point three square miles is less than 2 percent of the 500
square miles of land in San Diego County already covered by buildings or parking lots.
39. These figures assume a historic rainfall average (including melted snow) of 18 inches per year and
the col ection of only half of the coastal watershed runoff, or 50 percent of 18 inches. If col ected and
stored in underground water storage tanks, it would be enough water to supply a 6-million-person San
Diego/Tijuana region with 53 gal ons of water per person per day.
This 53-gal on figure is based on the assumption that:
+ The total area encompassed by the Tijuana/San Diego Region's coastal watersheds is 6,220 square
miles or 3,980,800 acres.
+ The average rainfall over this whole area is 18 inches per year. (Historic yearly rainfall in the region
ranges from around 10 inches along the coast to 40 inches plus in the higher mountains.)
+ 12 percent of the region's yearly average rainfall of 18 inches runs off into the ocean or is captured
+ Only half of this runoff (6 percent of the region's historic average rainfal ) can be col ected from the
3,980,800 acres that make up the region's coastal watersheds without causing unsustainable trauma to
the region's (plant and animal) watershed communities.
In addition to the 53 gallons per capita per day that could be col ected from watersheds, another 21
gal ons per capita per day of runoff can be collected from impervious surfaces like rooftops, parking
lots, paved playgrounds, driveways and patios. When rain falls on these surfaces, close to 100 percent
of it can be collected. (This 21-gallon-per-capita figure is based on impervious surface estimates
derived by the author from data published 3/29/94 in SANDAG/SOURCEPOINT taken from "Source:
Series 8 Regional Growth Forecast." Note: Road and freeway surfaces are not included in the
calculations as potential col ection surfaces.)
Obviously, water col ected from parking lots and driveways would need to be filtered for most uses.
Even water from rooftops, patios, and paved playgrounds would need filtration. Filtering can be
expensive, but if coupled with a good watershed education program, its cost can be greatly reduced. A
good watershed education program can improve the quality of the water collected from impervious
surfaces markedly. As more people come to understand how their activities affect the water they drink,
they will be much more conscious about releasing pollutants that will end up in it.
In addition to col ecting rainwater from watersheds and impervious surfaces, there is around 100,000
acre-feet of water that can be extracted sustainably from the region's groundwater supplies each year.
If these resources are developed, it would add another 15 gal ons per capita each day for the projected
regional population of 6 million people. Adding these three sources together (53 gal. + 21 gal. + 15 gal.)
indicates a water supply of 89 gal ons per capita per day for 365 days a year for a 6 million person
If 80 percent of this water is recycled after it is used, it would supply another 71 gallons per capita per
day for irrigation. This 71 gal ons added to the 89 gal ons that could be col ected, adds up to a total per
capita water-use allowance of 160 gal ons of water per capita per day. The per capita water used in the
San Diego part of the region today is around 180 gal ons per day for all purposes, (residential,
commercial, industrial, and for agriculture).
40. Conversation with hydrology faculty at SDSU and UCSD.
41. Author's calculations based on the facts and assumptions presented.
43. Conversation with hydrology faculty at SDSU and UCSD and the author's calculations based on the
facts and assumptions presented.
44. Author's calculations based on the San Diego County Water Authority 2001 Annual Report. p.14,
and SANDAG population statistics for 2001.
45. Author's calculations based on an average of .5 kWh of electricity per square meter per day of
horizontally mounted solar (PV) cells and the production of 50 gallons of freshwater from seawater per
kWh of electricity consumed by large scale reverse osmosis systems.
46. www.floatinc.com, www.poemsinc.org
47. Author's calculations based on maps and data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Soil
Survey San Diego Area. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, in cooperation
with the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau
of Indian Affairs, Department of the Navy, United States Marine Corps. Issued December, 1973.
48. Bell, Jim. Achieving Eco-nomic Security On Spaceship Earth. Ecological Life Systems Institute Inc.,
December, (1995): p. 43.
49. Ibid. p. 49.
50. See footnote (29) for details.
Mapping for Sustainability
One of the most fundamental aspects of creating a sustainable economy lies in how we answer the
Where is it appropriate to do what?
Where are the best places to site our cities? What land should be set aside for agriculture and for
wildlife habitat? How can we use hazardous areas like floodplains and other geological y unstable
lands, safely and productively?
The Mapping for Sustainability Map is designed to answer these questions for the San Diego/Tijuana
region specifically and to serve as an example of how such maps can be used to develop sustainable
economies in any region around the world.
What is a watershed?
Watersheds or drainage basins are landforms that are shaped by and direct the flow of rainwater and
snow melt on their path to the ocean. From countless raindrops, to billions of rivulets, to millions of
streams, to thousands of creeks, and finally to hundreds of rivers, unrelentingly gravity pulls water
runoff to the sea. The Amazon River watershed, the world's largest, is larger than most countries. The
Mississippi River watershed, the largest watershed in the U.S., is larger than the land area of California,
Arizona and Nevada combined. By comparison, our region's coastal watersheds are tiny. But, to live
here sustainably, it is essential that we understand how they work and how we can maximize our
benefit from them in ways that are completely sustainable. The total area covered by the coastal
watershed boundaries encompassed on the map is approximately 6,200 square miles or 16,058 square
Watersheds as planning units
Watersheds are important to planning because they direct the flow of water and any water-borne
pol ution. Watersheds are also semiautonomous ecological communities. Though there is considerable
interaction between the ecologies of adjacent and even distant watersheds, (some birds and animals
migrate great distances), most of the life in them is native or indigenous. Natural watershed
communities are inherently valuable as unique examples of life's complexity, beauty, mystery and
tenacity and if healthy, they benefit our human community in profound and practical ways. For example,
healthy watershed communities maximize the creation of fertile soil. When plants and animals die or
when animals eliminate wastes or plants loose their leaves, soil organisms convert them into soil.
Healthy watershed communities also protect the soils they create from erosion. Plant foliage and dead
plant debris protect the soil from pounding rain and water runoff. Root systems in concert with tunneling
organisms make it easier for water to be absorbed into the soil. In the soil, water is used by plants or
becomes groundwater that emerges as springs or is stored in groundwater basins. Healthy watershed
communities help minimize flooding by absorbing rainwater and snowmelt runoff for slow release via
springs and groundwater recharge.
Getting oriented Watershed boundaries
Look for the black arrows to find the Laguna Mountains Crest. Any rain that falls west of this crest flows
toward the ocean. Rain fal ing east of the crest flows toward the desert. The light blue arrow indicates
the U.S.-Mexico Border. Straddling this border is the Rio Tijuana watershed, indicated by the red
arrows. The Rio Tijuana watershed is the largest watershed in our region at around 1,700 square miles
or 4,400 square kilometers. The San Diego River watershed, indicated by the dark blue arrows, is
around 400 square miles or, 1,036 kilometers by comparison.
Principle resources and hazards
The large solid green areas (see map Legend) represent a composite of the region's most important
resources and its major hazards. They include our region's:
+ Number 1 and 2 prime agricultural soils.
World population is still increasing. The depth, fertility and acreage of our world's agricultural soils are
declining. Preserving our region's agricultural soils is our best insurance to be able to feed ourselves in
the future. Since we currently import up to 90 percent of our food, we are vulnerable to the failure of
crops from where we import them or the failure of transport systems to deliver the crops to us. Although
the map only includes # 1 and # 2 soils, given the world situation, we should protect the majority of our
# 3 and # 4 soils as well.
+ Key wildlife habitat areas and their linkages.
As discussed earlier, protecting and even expanding wildlife habitats and their linkages is vital to our
region's watershed health and therefore our region's economic health.
+ Principle groundwater storage basins.
If we don't pollute it or extract groundwater faster than its natural recharge rate, groundwater is a
renewable resource that will serve us forever.
+ Major floodplains.
Developing floodplains is just plain stupid. Floodplains flood. They also liquefy, (turn into mush) during
earthquakes. Some floodplains in our region are especially vulnerable because they have dams holding
back large water storage reservoirs upstream. If any of these dams fail in an earthquake, a flood of
water, mud, rocks and other debris would devastate whatever the earthquake left standing on
downstream valley floors.
Forests and upper elevation brush lands
(See map legend). These areas are where most of our coastal watershed precipitation falls. As such,
their health is essential to the general well being of humans and the life support system that supports
us. This given, development in forested and upper brush land areas should be clustered around
existing communities but not in floodplains and not on our region's best agricultural soils. Not only does
this make it easier to maintain watershed health and ensure food security, it also saves money because
it greatly reduces the cost of creating and maintaining roads, sewers and other infrastructural elements
associated with sprawl. Additionally, sprawl hurts watershed health because it cuts the land up with
roads, utilities and fences. Clustering leaves most forest and brush lands open for wildlife and for
human activities like hiking, camping and other recreational activities for forest and brush-lands
residents and the public at large.
A study sponsored by Bank of America titled BEYOND SPRAWL: New Patterns of Growth To fit The
New California, published in January 1995, shows that though sprawl may make money for developers,
it actually drains money away from already developed communities to create and maintain the
infrastructure that sprawl generates.
Existing kelp beds and their expansion
(See map legend) Kelp forests grow along our coast and along the coastlines of many countries where
they are periodically harvested. KELCO is our local harvester. And unlike most things we harvest, kelp
is harvested sustainably. Once harvested, kelp is processed to extract algin and other commercially
valuable products. Algin, the primary product, is the smooth in ice cream, the foam in beer, an
ingredient in numerous food and health care products and has uses in the textile industry. The residues
of kelp processing can be used in a 2-stage process to produce methane (natural gas) and an excellent
fertilizer. Kelp in our region grows by attaching itself to rocky reefs at depths of 40 to 100 feet. At depths
greater than 100 feet, there is insufficient sunlight to support kelp growth. At depths less than 40 feet,
wave action makes it difficult for kelp plants to become established. Kelp gets its nutrients from
upwelling currents that bring nutrient rich water from the ocean's depths to the surface. In addition to
the uses cited above, kelp is valuable to our economy and wel being in other ways. For example, kelp
is the foundation of the coastal food chain: the more kelp, the more fish, lobsters, abalone, etc.
Sometimes, normal upwelling nutrients are reduced because of changing ocean currents like El Niño
and La Niña. To the degree this happens, kelp production declines. If nutrient reduction is severe, kelp
forests can shrink dramatically. This can be overcome by using wave power to pump nutrient-rich water
from a depth of a thousand feet to kelp forest stands when natural upwelling is insufficient. Since we
would be pumping water through water, very little energy is required to pump large quantities of
nutrient-rich water to the surface.
Kelp production can be increased even more by placing waste concrete rubble like the foundations and
the slabs of demolished buildings next to existing reefs. As reefs are enlarged, kelp plants will colonize
them, expanding kelp production and all the benefits that come with it.
Using Mapping for Sustainability as a teaching tool
Mapping for Sustainability is designed to help people understand the principles of sustainable land-use
planning. Creating a sustainable future requires the preservation of watershed health and vital human
support resources like agricultural soils and groundwater storage basins. It also depends on using the
region's hazardous lands like floodplains in safe, productive and sustainable ways like for parks, wildlife
habitats and organic agriculture. The better these principles are understood and fol owed, the easier it
will be to develop an economy and way of life that is completely life-support sustaining in our region
and ultimately planet-wide.
As a transparency, the map can be placed over maps of the same scale that show existing and
proposed development. This overlay will show past land-use mistakes and help us correct them and
avoid similar mistakes in the future. This knowledge is also a prerequisite to restoring land misused in
the past to its former state of health and sustainable productivity.
Jim Bell A Brief Biography
Jim Bell is an internationally recognized expert on life-support-sustaining development. His projects include the
design and construction of the San Diego Center for Appropriate Technology and Ecoparque, a prototype
wastewater recycling plant in Tijuana, Mexico that converts sewage into irrigation water and compost. He also
worked as a consultant for the Otay Ranch Joint Planning Project and the East Lake Development Company. He
has also served as the ecological designer for a life-support-friendly hotel for Terra Vista Management and for the
recently completed Ocean Beach People's Food Cooperative's new "green" store. Jim has more than 40 years
experience in the design and construction industry.
As a lecturer, Jim speaks to many groups each year. His lecture credits include the AIA California State
Conference, the Society for International Development's World Conference in Mexico City, and keynote
addresses at the University of Oregon's first "Visions for a Sustainable Future" conference and the State of
Oregon's Solar Energy Association Conference. Jim is often interviewed on television, radio, and by the written
press and has been a guest on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation."
His honors include: The Society of Energy Engineers' Environmental Professional of the year for the
Southwestern States, a "Beyond War" award, and a City of San Diego Water Conservation Design Award for one
of his projects.
In 1996, 2000 and 2004 Jim ran for Mayor of San Diego. He ran for the 2nd District City Council in 2002. Though
he has not yet been elected, his ideas relating to making our region as energy, water and food self-sufficient as
possible, as soon as possible are being embraced by an increasing number of elected officials and planners. Jim
also served on Mayor Murphy's Environmental Task Force and SANDAG'S Long Range Planning Group.
During high school, Jim helped support his family by working as a gardener, ditch digger and as a carpenter's
helper. During and after college he worked as a carpenter. During the late 60s and early 70s Jim became
concerned about the impacts of human activities on the environment and our quality of life. He became
increasingly convinced that there were "smarter" ways to conduct our lives and build our communities that would
minimize negative impacts. Toward this goal, starting in 1974, Jim pursued a career as an Ecological Designer,
and as a public lecturer on the principles of Ecological Design. He is the author of Achieving Eco-nomic Security
On Spaceship Earth and numerous other articles and papers on creating sustainable economies
Working with People
Jim has served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Ecology Center, I Love a Clean San Diego,
Environmental Health Coalition, and the California Association of Cooperatives. Currently, he serves as Director
of the Ecological Life Systems Institute and the San Diego Center for Appropriate Technology. He's also a Board
Member of Ocean Beach People's Food Coop and has recently been working with the San Diego Apollo Project.
Jim was born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1941. His family moved to Long Beach, California in 1943 and to
San Diego in 1951. Jim has lived in San Diego ever since.
Jim attended Chesterton Elementary School, Montgomery Junior High School (in Linda Vista, 7th and 8th grade),
Grossmont High School (9th 11th grades), and graduated from El Capitan High School in 1960. He attended
Palomar College and Long Beach State University. He graduated from SDSU in 1985 with a Bachelors Degree in
Art and Art Sciences. In high school and college, Jim participated in a number of sports, including track, cross-
country and basketball. He played varsity basketball at Palomar College and Long Beach State University.
Late in the game of getting this book printed, the printer told me that we would have 2 blank pages in the back of the
book. So I decided to include the following in the hope it will add another dimension to rest of the book. Jim
A MESSAGE TO EVERYONE
AND ESPECIALLY TO OUR YOUTH AND FUTURE GENERATIONS
Respect yourselves and each other, for every human is a miracle. Through all the twists and turns of existence, the
chance that anyone of us would be living today approaches infinity.
Even if we only consider the one sexual union between our mother and father that resulted in our conception, the
chance of our particular sperm and egg connecting was around two hundred trillion to one. (Your mother contributed
one of a million egg-lets of which 500 matured and your father contributed some 200 million sperm.) One-million egg-
lets x 200 million sperm make the odds of any genetically unique person being conceived during the particular sexual
union that resulted in their existence is around 200 trillion to one.)
If we consider the times when our parents had sex other than when we were conceived and the one-hundred-
thousand or so generations of people who had to live long enough to raise adult children and so forth for us to exist
now, the chances for any one of us to exist today approaches infinity.
What does this mean?
It means we should respect our self and each other for the miracles that we are. Young people seem to get this.
"Don't dis me." Don't disrespect me.
As we learn how to respect each other, we also need to learn how to respect all life and our planet's life support
system as the miracles that they are.
We should work to become more conscious. The more conscious we become, the better we will be able to apply our
talents and planetary resources in ways that maximize fun and prosperity now and to ensure that our children and
future generations have a healthy, happy prosperous and life-support sustaining world in which to grow up and
OUR SITUATION AND WHAT WE SHOULD DO
We, the human family, now and future generations, are totally dependent on the health of our planet's life-support
system for our prosperity, well being and even the very continuance of the human family.
Therefore, for us to prosper now and in the future we must accomplish 4 things in concert as soon as possible:
I. Develop an economy and ways of life that are kind and gentle to each other and completely life-support sustaining.
Basically this means an economy and way of life that nurtures the human spirit, is powered by renewable energy and
that uses our planet's resources in ways that are non-polluting and renewable. (1)
II. Develop a Space Debris Detection and Defense System to protect our planet's life-support system from errant
space objects on collision courses with our planet.
Look at the moon. Its surface is wall-to-wall craters. If the earth did not have weather, plate tectonics and
vulcanization, its surface would be covered with craters just like the moon.
If we don't develop an effective space debris detection and defense system, sooner or later some space rock large
enough to cause serious life-support system damage is going to hit us. In 1908 a 100-meter diameter object exploded
due to rapid heating from atmospheric friction over Siberia in Russia. The result was 1,000 sq. kilometers (386 sq.
miles) of flattened forest. If this object had enter earth's atmosphere 3 hours later if would have hit Moscow with an
explosive force of 10 megatons of TNT or 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima
Japan in 1945. (2)
Depending on where they hit and the angle they hit on earth's surface, Colliding with objects between 1 mile (1.6
kilometers) and 2 miles in diameter has the potential to extinguish all higher forms of life on our planet. (3)
Since we already have all the technologies necessary to avoid such calamities, it would be foolish to create a
sustainable economy and way of life on our planet only to have it ripped away from us by some errant space rock.
3. Store sufficient energy, food and water to supply everyone in every community on our planet with the essentials
for life for at least one year and longer as it becomes possible.
This is only prudent given that political, economic and ecological uncertainties are increasing rapidly around the
4. Develop a worldwide educational program to show that it's in everyone's long-term interest for world population to
decline, but at a very slow rate for the next 100 to 200 years. This is because if the rate of decline is greater than one
percent, it would create unnecessary economic problems for young and old. One example: under our current social
security system, young earners would have to contribute a higher percentage of their earnings to keep the system
afloat for current social security recipients.
If everyone living today still capable of producing children choose to be the parent of no-more than 2 children during
their reproductive years, the rate of population decline would be somewhere between 1/2 and one percent per year.
This is because some people would choose to be the biological parent of one child or no children and some people
would not have viable eggs or sperm to procreate. If world population declined an average of one percent each year,
in 100 years the world's population would be in the range of 2.7 billion people, the world's population in the early
Developing a life-support sustaining economy, a robust Space Debris Detection and Defense System, Storing more
essentials like energy, food and water and slowly reducing the world's population are foundational to the well being
and survival of the human family. It is the birthright of our children and their children's children on to infinity. It is the
birthright of the future of consciousness becoming as it is manifesting in the human family.
It's as simple as this, the more our economy and way of life protects and preserves our planet's life-support system,
the more secure, prosperous and happy we and future generations will be.
(1) For details on how to accomplish the first task of creating a life support sustaining economy and way of life on
our planet, read this book. To read on line or print out free copies, go to www.jimbell.com, then click on Jim's New
Book, then the books title.
(2) For more details on protecting our planet from space debris search Protecting Our Life-support System from
Errant Space Rocks on the web.
(3) If a one to two mile diameter space rock hit us on a dusty plain, it could kick up sufficient fine dust particles into
the stratosphere and mesosphere to block sufficient sunlight to create a planetary ice age in a few days and even if
less severe, it could cause a significant reduction crop production for several years.
If any thing close to this happens, the human family not killed immediately by the collision would be in a short race
between freezing to death or dieing from insufficient or polluted water, common diseases or starvation -- if
lawlessness doesn't first get whomever is left.
The life-support system damage sustained by colliding with any space object is contingent on the mass of the object,
its speed and angle of approach, where it hits and many other variables. If a space rock 25 miles in diameter or larger
hit us, the details probably wouldn't matter.
Odds are, there is no life-support threatening space objects on a collision course with us in the next 25 years, but no
one really knows for sure because we haven't provided sufficient funding to find out.
As far as developing a space debris defense system, there has been some good scientific thinking about how to ward
off space rocks but so far no space debris defense system is in development.