Monday, June 09, 2008

More on California Water.

While the Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters lament our lack of political will to do the wrong things, at least I have tried to make a difference in local attitudes towards water. In a recent OpEd for my very local Morgan Hill Times, I was happy to reference the work of Dr. John Overpeck (University of Arizona, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth.) Dr. Overpeck has studied rainfall patterns and temperature changes over many millenia. In recent work, he concludes that "The outlook for climate-related changes in U.S. water supply is not positive, particularly in the West, Southwest, Texas and into the Southeast." From this, I reached my own conclusions.
We have experienced two years of below normal rainfall. If Overpeck is correct, we need to be acting as if these past two years are, at best, the new normal, or may even represent above normal rainfall. The implications of this may be profound. While I don't profess to be able to outline all of them, a few things are obvious. We need to make water conservation a habit of life, beginning now. That is the reason we are making the changes to our landscaping. There is not going to be a single, big thing that government can do to save us from ourselves. It will be the cumulative effect of millions of little decisions coalesced into habits that will save us from ourselves.
It is this tyranny of small decisions that worries me. It really comes down to things like whether I let the water run while brushing my teeth.

The view of life in extreme that Frank Herbert provided in his ScFi world, Dune, may be our own future condensed to its ultimate act, as the Fremen (Free men?) learn survival in an arid world.
The most notable custom of the Fremen is their water conservation. Living in the desert with no natural sources of water has spurred the Fremen to build their society around the collection, storage, and conservative use of water. The Fremen think about moisture conservation, not simply water conservation. Dune (Arrakis) is a desert planet parched to such a degree that no natural open water exists on the entire planet. Thus water conservation is of utmost importance for survival.

Walter Sac Bee Column offers, unfortunately, only simplistic solutions. New dams and a peripheral canal. It never questions the manner in which we choose to use water, or the growth that fuels the demand.

Unfortunately, Walters has more readers than I do... but not more ideas.

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