I just got off the phone with Michal Lenchner, whom I had met at the Plug-In 2010 conference for electric vehicles not too long ago. A committed environmentalist, Michal writes a column for the San Francisco Examiner (linked above) that’s a true fountainhead of information on a range of eco-issues.
In particular, she wrote me recently suggesting that I look more deeply into water: desalination, re-use of gray water, the energy required to move water around, and the water required to extract oil and gas. While it’s not a subject of which I have a deep understanding, it most certainly is an interesting and important one. I recall what the late Matt Simmons of Peak Oil fame told me when I interviewed him for my book:
Oil and gas exploration uses a remarkably large amount of water — and often other energy. The oil sands of Canada use just a phenomenal amount of potable water and natural gas to actually steam it out of the sands. In California, something like two-thirds of their oil supply comes from Kern County’s heavy oil, and while the San Joaquin Valley is one of the key food supply sources of America, they’re having a very serious drought.
I’ve asked Michal to become a guest blogger here; I very much hope she’ll take me up on my offer.