Eye-roller: Don’t Waste the Drought

WE’RE in the worst drought in the United States since the 1950s, and we’re wasting it.

Though the drought has devastated corn crops and disrupted commerce on the Mississippi River, it also represents an opportunity to tackle long-ignored water problems and to reimagine how we manage, use and even think about water.

For decades, Americans have typically handled drought the same way. We are asked to limit lawn-watering and car-washing, to fully load dishwashers and washing machines before running them, to turn off the tap while brushing our teeth. When the rain comes, we all go back to our old water habits.

But just as the oil crisis of the 1970s spurred advances in fuel efficiency, so should the Drought of 2012 inspire efforts to reduce water consumption.


No, you idiot! It means we have to increase supply. Developers think expansion while the too-afraid think restriction. Onward and upward for all humanity.

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3 responses to “Eye-roller: Don’t Waste the Drought

  1. “No, you idiot! It means we have to increase supply. Developers think expansion while the too-afraid think restriction. Onward and upward for all humanity.”

    Yep. In 1980, Jimmy Carter ran on the idea that government was best at managing shortages. Ronaldus Magnus said, “Screw that. We’re America. We will produce our way out of shortages.”

    The rest is history.

  2. Charles Fishman’s error #1: the oil crisis didn’t spur advances in fuel efficiency. Cars had become more efficient from generation to generation before the crisis, and after the crisis the pace didn’t accelerate. It had already been at maximum.
    Fishman’s error #2: the comparison doesn’t work. If a car becomes more efficient due to a technological advance – not because it’s smaller or has less HP or some other lack – it doesn’t affect/reduce our living style/our well-being. If we start to use less water/change our habits, it does affect it.

  3. Charles Fishman

    Boy, I hadn’t seen this posting until just now. For anyone who wanders in here, the junk science is in the posting and the comments. You can’t “produce” more water, there’s no physical way to increase the supply. The amount of water on Earth is the same as it’s ever been. No new water is being created — in the big picture, or in most localities.

    Yes, you can use desalination in coastal cities to produce clean water — but desalination is far more expensive the thoughtful conservation, or recycling of wtaer.

    The market is in control of oil. The market is not in control of water, nor will it likely ever be, except at the margins. Companies have a major role in helping create new water innovations and technology, but water utilities are among the largest customers for that technology — and 80 percent of US water utilities are part of a government.

    And I’m not clear how farmers using water more efficiently reduces our lifestyle. I’m not sure how electric power plants and factories using water more efficiently limits our lifestyle. For that matter, I don’t see how using a water-efficient toilet, or turning off the water while you brush your teeth, dessicates your life.

    Charles Fishman
    “The Big Thirst”

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