Friday, October 26, 2007

Nor any drop to drink

I am encouraged by the fact that the LA Greens have formally endorsed the Sustainability Principles that were put together by the California Water Impact Network. Maybe it is my own biases, but I take this as a sign that some parts of the Green Party are returning to the ecological base from which we started.

It is time that this refocusing has happened, not because it is just a pendulum swing from one focus to another, but because there is so little time to deal with it. I am no alarmist telling everyone to go watch Water World. It was not that good of a movie. But maybe it is time for some alarmist rhetoric concerning water.

There is always danger in being an alarmist. It is one quick way to lose credibility with the bad future just does not happen. Many of us lived through the controversies surrounding Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb. It did not happen as he predicted and now every alarmist position has the obvious problem of living down that history.

Still, the concerns with water are real and the alarmist views may be optimistic. We think of water and the delta as a California problem that we have to solve here. It is not. It is a global problem, as well documented in an Associated Press article by Brian Skoloff today.
An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn't have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York's reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year.

Across America, the picture is critically clear — the nation's freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst.

The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.
There is no way that we can even begin to consider what to do about water unless we also consider the impact of a warming climate. The Natural Resources Defense Council has put together a survey of the Current Science on Global Warming and Western Water. The facts are pretty clear. Only those who would make a partisan issue of this predicament are going to deny what is happening. You only have to look at the web site of the Republican Caucus of the California Assembly. Assembly Republican Leader, Mike Villines, does not put a single environmental issue on his list of things to do. His only position on the water issue is to build more dams, a useless waste of money if they do not take a warming planet under consideration, yet he is willing to hold the rest of us hostage to a flawed plan.

I would hope that Greens all over this state take a look at the Sustainability Principles that I linked above. I would like to see every County Council endorse them. The connections between water, land use, wild fires and global warming define the situation that demand Green solutions. We need to find the ways to make them a reality.

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