Monday, November 26, 2007

Globalization and the Desert

At lunch in Albuquerque recently, a friend mentioned the efforts she went to to make a local Thanksgiving. It was an impressive display of work, especially given that it was both November and Albuquerque, and at the table we all spent time discussing the sustainability of our chosen desert home.

The meal ended before my thoughts finished forming, but here they are, in amazing bullet-point-o-vision
  • Albuquerque could probably only have a small population, if the population insisted on a local food supply
  • Agriculture in this state is very water intensive
  • Water is a terribly limited resource in this state
  • In terms of capital generated relative to water used, urban industry and urban living win out over local farming
  • Without this usage of water, Albuquerque would not be what it is today, and it takes a bit of technology and wealth to sustain this state of being (as evidenced by Albuquerque being 300+ years old, but only growing with any decency over the past 60 or so years)
  • Aurora, Colorado is a wealthy urban (really suburban) area that has water problems, but bought up the entire water of a Colorado County. That county had previously been agricultural dependent, and all I can imagine now is that it is SOL
So, what is the best use of water? Local food, and small population, or high-value urban water used to attract and sustain a city that has the money spent to pull in food from elsewhere?

Globalization seems to favor our desert city sticking to high technology at discount rates, with low land costs and lots of intellectual capital. Farming is mostly done elsewhere already, and the city is supported by the Labs, the Base, and Intel. Agriculture's place in a truly global economy is uncertain, but I can almost guarantee that it isn't in Albuquerque. Not when Albuquerque water has a much higher value sustaining the city as is.

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