Yesterday was about barrels of oil. ‘Houston’ (as they say),’we have a problem.’ (Except that of course it’s been a bonanza for Houston.)

Today, I received a report from Dick Thoreson, who managed my farm when I had one in Iowa – ‘Was he okay,’ I had written to ask?

Yes, he wrote back, he and his wife were fine. But, boy, had it ever rained. Leading his neighbor, John, to calculate just how many gallons of water had fallen on Iowa in the past 30 days:

1) There are 640 acres in a square mile
2) And 43,560 square feet in an acre
3) And 231 cubic inches in a gallon
4) An average of 9 inches fell in Iowa over the last 30 days
5) Every 25.6667 square inches equaled a gallon
6) There are 144 square inches in a square foot
7) Thus, every square foot equaled 5.61 gallons of water
8) Every acre = 244,388 gallons of water
9) Every square mile = 156,408,685 gallons
10) Iowa is 56,276 square miles, so 8,802,055,197,257 gallons of water fell on Iowa

John goes on: ‘It would take 375 times that amount to fill lake Superior . . . which is 10% of the world’s fresh water. So .027% of the world’s fresh water fell on Iowa in the past 30 days.’

It is heartbreaking to see what’s happened, and continues to happen, to so many fine Midwesterners; sobering to think of the short-term economic impact and potential long-term environmental damage (what’s in that water?).

One more reason to fear that our RSW double-inverse S&P shares may have further to rise.

And one more reason to be sure your flood insurance is up to date.


Farmer John got me thinking. Saudi Arabia is now pumping 10 million barrels of oil a day out from under the desert. Hmmm. There are 42 gallons in a barrel, so that’s 420 million gallons. (With vaguely a quarter of a billion passenger vehicles on the road in the U.S., not to mention commercial trucks and buses, that would be less than two gallons a day for each.) There are 231 cubic inches in a gallon, so 97 billion cubic inches of oil pumped out of the Saudi desert each day, or just over 56 million cubic feet (am I doing this right?). Which means that each day, a layer of oil one foot deep across 56 million square feet is pumped out of the desert. One foot deep over 2 square miles. Every day.

Saudi Arabia is a big place (756,985 square miles), so maybe that’s not a problem. World oil reserves are estimated on the order of a trillion barrels, of which Saudi Arabia has perhaps 10% – 27 years’ worth at the current extraction rate.

I’m not sure what to make of this, except to say I wish more of the world’s oil were in Iowa – and less of its water.


Comments are closed.