In between cop shootings; gun chatter; anti-Muslim hysteria; and paroxysms of fury over trivial Obama administration lapses - we don't spend much time discussing the real challenges facing our nation and society. Like the fact that we are running out of water. Not just the well-publicized California drought. The Great Plains Ogallala aquifer is running dry. In simple terms, the wells that irrigate the great breadbasket of the American midwest are dropping the water table by as much as two feet per year. It seems to me that while challenging, these problems are within our technical ability to solve. But the steps we've taken so far seem shortsighted - at best. California, for instance, is building ocean-water desalinization plants. The cost of producing water this way are extremely high: Roughly $2700 per acre/ft - or about the amount of water a family of five uses per year. And putting thousands of tons of additional CO2 into the atmosphere. It certainly is possible that some large-scale infrastructure projects may be needed: pipelines, reservoirs, etc. to move and store water. But it seems that the best long-term use of our money would be to encourage - via subsidy and tax policy, greater conservation of water. Switching to subsurface drip irrigation, for instance, requires a large investment on the part of farmers. But it can reduce by as much as 70% the amount of water crops need. So-called "gray water" systems, which use rain-water runoff and other "non-potable" water for such tasks as flushing toilets and watering lawns. It seems to me that our country has lost the ability to do really big things. We built the Interstates; the transcontinental railroad; electrified and ran telephone wire to every part of the country. We put a man on the moon and educated the veterans of WWII. All those things took vision; political courage; and a huge amount of taxpayer money to make happen. And we are all much better off today as a result. We also managed to find a trillion or two dollars to fight a useless war in the middle east. Is it possible in the Tea-Party atmosphere of today for any political leader to propose the sort of massive investment it is going to take to prevent our faucets running dry?