Peak Water

Posted August 17th, 2013

Stepping Out of the Bubble

by Elizabeth Cutright, Editor, Water Efficiency.


It can be hard sometimes, when you spend your days focused on one particular topic or issue, to realize that not everyone in the world shares your insights or perspectives. In fact, we often become so entrenched in our own little bubbles that we forget that not everyone is privy to the same facts and figures, the same experiences, or the same common sense.

While I know better, it’s hard sometimes to avoid glancing at the comments that usually appear at the end of a blog post of news story. I’m well aware of the fact that most of the time, Internet commentators are operating from the lowest common denominator and that the “trolls” are there to do nothing more than stir up controversy. And yet … despite my complete understanding of the inevitable, more often than not I find myself scrolling through responses and unregulated opinions that often follow a piece of online content.

I share all of this because today, I was truly surprised to learn that there is perhaps a small, but nevertheless vocal, online contingent that does not believe in water conservation. These folks believe that water scarcity is all “hype”, that it is all part of a “liberal agenda” aimed at curbing economic expansion and turning the US into a fascist, socialist utopia.

Here’s a sampling of the responses to a story aimed at “debunking the myth of peak water.”

* “The only way to truly wastewater would be to launch it out of the atmosphere. Otherwise, all other uses of water puts it back into the system sooner or later.”
* “Just another example of the eco-lemmings having to have something to worry about. I have no doubt that ‘the science is settled’.”
* “These graft-seeking scaremongers would find my generous aquifer quite inconvenient.”
* “The nutty left, God bless them, have picked something that is 100% recyclable, is 100% recycled, and easily made potable (safe to consume).”
* “I don’t see how electrical generation consumes ANY water. Running it through the hydropower turbines does nothing harmful to it. Downstream it goes where it can be drawn by the downriver users.”
* “Baah! If vast amounts of irrigation water (and crops and jobs) can be sacrificed to save the Delta Smelt, it’s not even remotely possible that this is anything resembling an actual ‘issue’. Lots of vilification for urbanization (are liberals so stupid they do not to realize where their ‘base’ is located?) yet nary a snear (sic) for the Smelt! Baah!”

It’s frustrating to see the facts muddled with myth to produce an obstinate view of reality. While all of us could pick apart each of the above statements (as well as the article itself), the truth is we shouldn’t have to. If the public is really questioning water conservation efforts, then those of us working in water resource management have failed.

Water scarcity shouldn’t be up for debate. Water conservation shouldn’t be politicized. Water efficiency shouldn’t be downplayed or mocked.

The truth is, there is no need to label our current water resource situation with cute catchphrases like “peak water” (a term that because of its unsuitable application loses all meaning). Reality speaks for itself.  In the end, it’s not about political affiliation or ideological perspectives; it’s about responsible resource consumption and an awareness that we cannot operate as if we live in a self contained bubble.

As these commentators were so quick to point out the water cycle is all-inclusive—water goes out and water goes in, in equal measure. We may not “lose” what we have, but if we’re not careful, we will lose the ability to use what we have left.

Source: Water Efficiency.