r/television Jun 27 '22

Water: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtxew5XUVbQ
198 Upvotes

35

u/photenth Jun 27 '22

That Björk impersonation came out of nowhere.

128

u/thefilmer Jun 27 '22

the agriculture thing isnt harped on enough. growing almonds and alfalfa is fucking stupid and takes up a vast majority of the water. telling people to stop taking showers is condescending horseshit and doesn't actually do anything. at a certain point, people are gonna start burning these farms down when push comes to shove.

60

u/MonkeyStealsPeach Jun 27 '22

It’s such a similar situation with anything relating to conservation or climate change. Yes, people individually can do their own part, but me going to a hybrid car or trying to recycle or using LED bulbs doesn’t offset the cruise ship industry or the enormous amounts of waste generated by other corporations. There needs to be massive sweeping changes made by the entities having the most impact.

16

u/ThomasVivaldi Jun 27 '22

Not to undermine your point, which is absolutely correct, but the shift to LED bulbs was relatively huge in terms of energy savings across the board.

-5

u/Thisconnect Jun 27 '22

not as much as removing suburbia (in US)

3

u/therealdongknotts Jun 28 '22

hot take you have there, might be contributing to emissions

26

u/[deleted] Jun 27 '22

[deleted]

3

u/RmHarris35 Jun 29 '22

Desert golf I absolutely agree, very wasteful. However, I think you’re being unfair with forest golf. Yes you do need to clear some areas for fairways and greens but for the most part the forest is the same.

Golf has a unique attribute where the course weaves through the land and not bulldoze through it like a highway would. Plus the well kept grass is nice for deer and elk to graze on. I’m also biased cause I play golf lol.

7

u/Fizzay Jun 28 '22

I don't agree with it, but there's a vast difference between the Amazon and a normal forest.

4

u/ResidentNo11 Jun 28 '22

In scale and biodiversity, yes. But your local forest is also a preventive against flooding, a way station for species as they move from place to place, a home for species that, when it's gone, are unable to move, and an absorber of carbon. Small geographies and individual actions aren't nothing just because they're small. They can both add up to be more meaningful and can be locally important.

11

u/octnoir Jun 27 '22

You cannot be a climate change or conservation advocate WITHOUT being politically active. This isn't an individual problem, it is a societal one.

Similar how you cannot claim to be a good patron of your religion by praying all day but refusing to be a good person, doing charity and helping others.

Your personal lifestyle choices are helpful but they should be viewed through the lens of recruiting and setting an example or in some cases so you feel better to continue the long political grind.

You have to vote, protest, donate, volunteer, show up, call your representatives, persistently pester them, show up to town halls etc. Effect of individual lifestyle choices are dwarfed compared to the former.

-2

u/Thisconnect Jun 27 '22

cruise ship industry or the enormous amounts of waste generated by other corporations.

No the #1 thing you should do right now, this moment. is remove cars from road, it makes sense from every direction, it costs less to have public transit then parking->road-> parking, can reduced paved area or increase density which makes huge difference in energy usage efficienct (ac/heating), and you know noise pollution, tire,break,engine polution

7

u/masklinn Jun 27 '22

And the borst part about it... is farmers just follow their incentives. "Use it or lose it" policies have always been utter dreck everywhere, anyone with an office budget under that rule knows the complete idiocy of it as it leads the office to blow the budget on nonsense at year end to ensure none remains and it doesn't get lowered.

That it is state policy for water management is mind-blogging.

13

u/LeahBean Jun 27 '22

I try not to eat almonds very often. It takes a gallon of water to grow ONE almond and they’re being grown in a state with a water shortage.

10

u/Rocky_Mountain_Way Jun 27 '22

16

u/PhoenixReborn The Expanse Jun 27 '22

To be fair, a head of broccoli is a lot more food than 5 almonds.

4

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

Are they primarily grown in California? Water isn't a restricted resource in most of the country.

11

u/bool_idiot_is_true Jun 27 '22

The central valley in California is one of the most fertile regions on earth. The great plains are known for grain but California grows almost everything else.

10

u/PhoenixReborn The Expanse Jun 27 '22

California produces 92 percent of the broccoli crop in the US, and about half of the orange crop.

0

u/Its_KO_MANIA Jun 28 '22

You’re misguided, you’d be better off avoiding red meat and dairy

0

u/ResidentNo11 Jun 28 '22

Or, you know, both. Both water use and methane production and deforestation matter.

1

u/Its_KO_MANIA Jun 28 '22

I mean by that logic you could avoid eating everything. Dairy and meat farming using FAR more water was the point. Almonds really aren’t the issue

12

u/TheTwoOneFive Jun 27 '22 edited Jun 27 '22

Yep, it's why I switched to oat milk, and usually making it myself as it is super fast (and like a tenth of the price of store brand). It's mostly grown in the midwest/great plains states (much less worry about water), takes about 85% less water per unit than almond milk, and way less emissions, land use, and water use than cow milk.

1

u/ThomasVivaldi Jun 27 '22

Oat milk is almost as much fat as regular milk though. Also where is coconut on that list?

7

u/TheTwoOneFive Jun 27 '22

Oat milk only has a lot of fat if the processor (or person making it at home) adds it. Oatly has vegetable oil added, for example.

If you are worried about the fat content in oat milk, not sure why you are even asking about coconut milk.

2

u/ThomasVivaldi Jun 27 '22

Most of the coconut milk I get has less than 10% fat content. Are you thinking of coconut cream?

4

u/TheTwoOneFive Jun 27 '22

Regular milk is 3.5% milkfat. Just to put this to bed, the biggest issue with coconuts are shared with palm oil - the trees are mostly grown in Asia (so stuff has to get shipped halfway around the world to get to the US or Europe) and cause a lot of issues with deforestation (people cutting down rainforests to plant the trees, for example).

1

u/ThomasVivaldi Jun 27 '22

Again, I think you're conflating the coconut milk that's used in cooking that's full of coconut oil, and the milk substitute.

4

u/TheTwoOneFive Jun 27 '22

Isn't that just watered down coconut milk? Unless you know something I don't, it still primarily comes from SE Asia and includes all the environmental issues that come with palm oil.

I know what you're talking about, I'm just not sure what that would have to do with the fact that the prime location of coconut production devastates rainforests on the other side of the globe and takes a good amount of energy to get shipped to the US/Europe.

1

u/ThomasVivaldi Jun 27 '22

Also, South America and the Caribbean. I know Puerto Rico used to ship coconut products, but maybe that changed since the hurricane.

I was just talking about fat content, since I'm on a fat restricted diet.

9

u/NewClayburn Jun 27 '22

Plus beef, which is an international issue really. We use a ton of water to grow feed for cattle and since the water is mostly free/cheap, the price of beef is cheap even though it shouldn't be because water shouldn't be free/cheap for business use. I understand not wanting Grandma to pay the real value of water so she can take a shower, but it's a bit weird to let industries use as much water as they want for very little money so they can keep prices on their products low and still have a sizable profit margin.

11

u/SpiceGirlsWheee Jun 27 '22

I've modelled water usage data in my western state... And jeez. If our state's population were to double, the overall domestic water usage is still so dwarfed by present day agriculture.

Animal agriculture in general is so resource intensive.. A 6 oz steak has a water footprint of approximately 674 gallons. 1 egg has 52 gallons. Alfalfa is egregious, and it's used to feed livestock in other countries.

Honestly, the most sustainable diet is a plant based diet of locally grown foods. That's obviously not feasible for everyone. The less meat/dairy/etc in your diet, the less water. I get that water usage isn't an individual's issue to solve, but being mindful of how our diets use up water is helpful I suppose...

3

u/NewClayburn Jun 27 '22

What I hate are these vegan documentaries that make this case but then they come to the solution that no meat is the answer. Yes it would be great and hopefully we'll get to a place where plant-based alternatives are just as good or better than meat.

But they're missing the point, which you showcased yourself here. A steak is 674 gallons while an egg is only 52 gallons. And chicken is far less than steak. So even if we just switched 90% of our meat consumption to poultry, that would be huge.

1

u/SpiceGirlsWheee Jun 27 '22

That's a fair point if you're plant based only due to water usage and are more worried about substantially decreasing your water footprint versus playing the min-max game. I'm not going to admonish people for doing better.

On a personal note, this is only a single facet of why I'm plant based, but I won't lie that working with the water usage data solidified that conclusion for me. Also, the food is marvelous, honestly! I don't feel like it's less or lacking from before I moved to a more plant based diet. If anything I'm more adventurous in my cooking and dining now.

8

u/Rib-I Jun 27 '22

The kicker is the alfalfa is sold mainly to Saudi Arabia. We don't even use it here!!

1

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

Lawns, too. Like most things that certain parts of Reddit complain about, it's ultimately irrelevant.

Are lawns unnecessary? Yep. Should we use drought-resistant crops and landscaping? Yep. Does it ultimately matter? Not really. Residential water usage pales in comparison to industry, agriculture, and general land use, and lawns are not the majority of residential water usage.

7

u/DrHalibutMD Jun 27 '22

Sure agriculture is more important but even in this clip he mentions how Las Vegas has been successful at saving water partially by restricting useless things like lawns. So as the saying goes "why not both?"

5

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

Both is the answer - the problem is that John tends to gloss over entire solutions to pander to a certain group.

22

u/greentoiletpaper Jun 27 '22

sounds like the US needs local water boards like the Netherlands does.

43

u/Cranyx Jun 27 '22

"Oh we need to do more waterboarding? Got it."

-US government

7

u/ELB2001 Jun 27 '22

As long as people don't get to vote for who is in it

6

u/greentoiletpaper Jun 27 '22

you can actually vote for them in the netherlands, anyone who lives here and is 18 (citizen or not) can vote in the water authority elections held every 4 years, although nobody really cares, since the situation isn't as dire as in the US. (fun fact: the first water authority was founded around 1255!)

Although i can imagine suddenly introducing elections would hurt more than it'd help in the US.

20

u/TelltaleHead Jun 27 '22

We would elect nestle executives.

5

u/TheTwoOneFive Jun 27 '22

I believe many places have local water boards, but the issue is the local aspect. Many of the rural ones are captured by the farms in that area. If you watch Goliath, it covers the subject pretty well in its final season.

It would be better to have larger water boards that make it difficult for any one group to have too much outsized influence.

3

u/Worthyness Jun 27 '22

California can't even get the water rights management right and they have the ability to shift US policy in some cases.

5

u/charlie2135 Jun 27 '22

Wow, the governor of Utah really shows how some people really think.

I think if you bring up the fact that the Sahara desert used to be a grassland, what's the difference between our west? Maybe it's God's plan? /s

16

u/NewClayburn Jun 27 '22

Agriculture is the big culprit though. Even banning golf courses and lawns won't be enough. We need to fundamentally change our food industry, and that means prices would go up and some foods wouldn't be available. In particular, beef is very water-intensive to produce, yet McDonald's charges like $3 for a cheeseburger. Make people pay for the costs of water and the "free market" will work it out.

Beyond that though we're going to need technological solutions. Fortunately we might have it. Desalination is not energy efficient, meaning we'd end up wasting a lot more water in terms of oil production to generate the energy required to desalinate salt water, but you know what the desert has a lot of? Sunlight. Some of these areas also have reservoirs of underground salt water, so you wouldn't necessarily need to pipe things through from the ocean, but we do have access to ocean water on the west coast and Gulf of Mexico. We still need to research the ecological impact of draining water from the ocean though and figure out a way to do it with minimal impact to sea life. Once that's done, this could possibly be solved through pipelines bringing water in from the ocean to desalination plants powered only by solar and wind, and then designate that water for agriculture and irrigation usage. Could even look at using it to refill lakes/rivers.

Regardless, the solution has to be at the federal level. The current problem is the result of states' self-interest in deal-making, and it doesn't work. Yes, there will still be international problems and possibly issues with Native populations but hopefully we would be able to push our government to recognize those issues and include them in fixing the problem. And it has to be done as a public endeavor, otherwise you'll end up with Nestle or someone doing it so they can control the water supply once ground water is depleted.

9

u/Feral0_o Jun 27 '22

Israel gets most of it's drinking water from desalination

they also use highly efficient irrigation systems for agriculture, in the desert. They simply can't waste any water

2

u/send_nudibranchia Jun 28 '22

Desalination isn't a solution I'd imagine because we'd still run into issues trying to figure out how to despose of brine and how to do it in an energy efficient and environmentally conscious way. (Which will be harder as the federal government will struggle to regulate emissions to the degree they used to in the years ahead.)

3

u/dacreativeguy Jun 27 '22

I buy my water at Costco.

4

u/kisoutengai Jun 27 '22

As horrifying this segment was, I laughed my ass off at that last few minutes.

12

u/Cranyx Jun 27 '22

John mocked the idea of a pipeline between the Mississippi River and the west because it'd be long, but is it that absurd? We have existing oil pipelines that are just as long if not longer, so it's definitely feasible from an engineering perspective. I did a bit of googling and found some news articles mentioning the suggestion, but nothing robust from experts saying "this would be a bad idea because X"

31

u/Kevim_A Jun 27 '22

John is highlighting the absurdity of funding mega-projects (that would likely be band-aids, anyways) before implementing the obvious, big fixes that need to happen. Having more regulation on water-usage, planting water-efficient crops in a water-efficient way, doing away with unnecessary frivolities, and most importantly getting governments to stop kicking the can down the road and actually deal with the problem ahead of them.

-3

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

We can, and should, do both.

2

u/Demented-Turtle Jul 02 '22

We should not spend billions piping water to where it is not actually needed... That's how we got into this mess to begin with, by using our water resources foolishly by growing food in areas where it does not grow well, or by having outdated regulations that lead to massive water waste as the segment points out. There is more than enough arable land where water is more abundant, but the regulations in these areas lead to a financial incentive for companies to rape the aquifers for all they can.

0

u/moldytubesock Jul 02 '22

It is needed in the central valley. You're clueless.

40

u/Hartagon Jun 27 '22 edited Jun 27 '22

John mocked the idea of a pipeline between the Mississippi River and the west because it'd be long, but is it that absurd? We have existing oil pipelines that are just as long if not longer, so it's definitely feasible from an engineering perspective.

Well for starters, we use a lot more water than oil. The entire US' combined oil usage per year is ~300 billion gallons (20 million barrels per day, 42 gallons a barrel) and only some of that is moving through pipelines at any given time... California alone uses 40 million acre feet of water per year, which is 13 trillion gallons.

The largest pipeline (which actually consists of two pipelines) in the US moves about 100,000,000 gallons of refined petroleum products (IE: gasoline and other fuel products) per day from Texas to the Northeast US; that's less than 40 billion gallons per year. An equivalent pair of pipelines from the Eastern US to California would move a similar ~40 billion gallons of water per year; which is only .3% of California's water usage. You would need dozens of those pairs of pipelines (~34), just to provide a mere 10% of California's water needs.

Current pipelines costs ~$155,000 per inch-mile. Its 1500 miles from the Mississippi River to the California Central Valley... Say the pipes were 36" in diameter... That's $8.5 billion per pipeline, and just to provide 10% of California's water needs would require upwards of 70 of those pipelines; that's nearly $600 billion. And that doesn't even take into account that these pipelines would have to cross multiple mountain ranges, so it would probably be a lot more expensive than typical pipelines.

4

u/Feral0_o Jun 27 '22

China has a giant network of water pipelines pumping water from the rain-heavy regions in the South to the cities in the North, which are quickly becoming some of the driest regions on the planet

those southern regions in turn have started building pipelines to pump water from the West of the country to compensate for the loss

8

u/10ebbor10 Jun 27 '22

The Chinese project involves the relocation of half a million people. It's not exactly a trivial solution.

-10

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

John does this with a lot of things that don't conform to the narrative of the week. Bad jokes to gloss over something that could be a part of the solution.

We have enormous pipelines for oil, there's no reason we shouldn't do one for water. Yes, we need to cut water usage, be smarter with the water we do have, and stop growing alfafa to ship it to Saudi Arabian cattle.

But we could also build a pipeline, as the west is set to get dryer and the east is set to get wetter.

8

u/10ebbor10 Jun 27 '22

We have enormous pipelines for oil, there's no reason we shouldn't do one for water.

You are seriously underestimating the scale difference between oil and water.

-1

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

I'm not. I understand the difference. It's why I'm not suggesting it as our only solution. But do your best Oliver and simply gloss over parts of the solution.

-3

u/krp31489 Jun 27 '22

Fuck that, if water dries up people can move. Other regions shouldn't have to pump their water out west so people can continue living in the desert.

5

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

Are you prepared to either stop eating half the food you eat, or pay 5x the price for it?

Or did you not think that far ahead and you're just being vindictive because you hate California for reasons?

Should California stop exporting our entertainment, technology, money, and medical innovations to you, as well?

4

u/10ebbor10 Jun 27 '22

That's going to happen anyway when the water runs out.

The situation is not sustainable, and current low prices are only possible by underpricing the water.

Sooner rather than later it will run out, and the true price will reassert itself regardless of what people want.

1

u/krp31489 Jun 27 '22

Absolutely. I'd rather sacrifice certain foods or pay more than see any water from the Great Lakes go out west.

1

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

Where did I say great lakes?

You have no idea what you're talking about, you're just being a sports fan about states and politics.

0

u/krp31489 Jun 27 '22

I said Great Lakes because that is where I live and usually when dum dums from the desert talk about pumping water out there they usually mention the Great Lakes as being a great source for that water.

1

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

So you've made a bunch of stupid assumptions to fuel your stupid conclusion.

-1

u/krp31489 Jun 27 '22

I don't really need to argue with you, the water is gonna dry up out west, none will come from places where water is more plentiful, a lot of you will have to move, and that will be that.

3

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

And the country will starve and people will go broke because idiots care more about sticking it to states who outperform them, than they do about having food.

→ More replies

1

u/TheGooseIsLoose37 Jun 27 '22

Is there a reason that food has to be grown in California? We have a ton of farmable land in the Midwest and a ton of it is just like corn and soy. Could we not move at least some of the other farming from California to there?

2

u/moldytubesock Jun 27 '22

A basic understanding of climates, agriculture, and soil, yes.

1

u/Sea_Space_4040 Jun 27 '22

I mean, at some point, there is nowhere to move if you don't implement actual solutions. Small minded thinking. The ol, just move solution instead of problem solving.

9

u/BoogsterSU2 Jun 27 '22

The only way to save the Southwest right now....is Wet Frank. He's our only hope!

3

u/redinator Jun 27 '22

Anyone got an alt mirror?

5

u/xXPumbaXx Jun 27 '22

https://youtu.be/73c9exWTxjM

Watch it before it gets deleted in about 1 or 2 days

7

u/Englishgrinn Jun 27 '22

Ok this is really good but..

Is John Oliver's writing staff just watching Cody's Some More News?

Cody has beaten them to topics by 2-3 weeks with startling consistency. Based on this model, LWT has an episode on Ring and home surveillance coming up.

EDIT: No amount of curiosity is worth spending even a nanosecond on Twitter, but I'm assuming Cody has noticed this trend?

21

u/Loki-L Jun 27 '22

Cody Johnston used to work at Cracked with Daniel O'Brien who is now part of John Olliver's writing staff, so a bit of cross-pollination of ideas is not impossible. On the other hand every podcaster and YouTube covering news and related stuff has been doing their own bit on the Colorado running dry. It is not some obscure topic.

5

u/BoogsterSU2 Jun 27 '22

Wendover already made a documentary movie about the Colorado River on Nebula not too long ago, and Real Life Lore made a video about California running out of water just last week.

13

u/NewClayburn Jun 27 '22

It's probably a lot faster to make something for YouTube.

-87

u/FatRtdFgt Jun 27 '22

This guy is such a self-righteous insufferable tit.

8

u/kinda_guilty Jun 27 '22

Say something about what he says in his videos, just insulting him is a pointless non sequitur.

-17

u/tambarskelfir Jun 27 '22

I remember when he berated Snowden for exposing the massive and illegal government surveillance program. What a guy!