Conservation and other forms of self-denial may seem good for the soul, but do they solve the problem?
The drought is now over, not because of efforts to conserve water usage, but because of elevated rainfall levels.
Sociobiologist Rebecca Costa, in her book, “The Watchman’s Rattle,” proposes that the “drought” is not the problem and therefore “conservation” as a remedy for the “drought” is merely a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
Costa argues that “conservation buys us time, but does not address the root cause of our water shortage: California’s growing population has greater needs than rainfall can supply. “The trends are undeniable and the solution clear: We need to manufacture more water,” Costa says.
Costa’s book concerns failed and fallen civilizations that relied on non-cognitive solutions to complex problems. A non-cognitive solution is one based on superstition, without a basis in fact.
Costa notes that the failed societies instinctively reacted to problems by fixing the symptoms, rather than addressing permanent solutions. The Mayans, for example, reverted to human sacrifice. And we revert to conservation.
In plain English, if you are faced with a water shortage (like the Mayans), human sacrifice will not get you more water.
Desalination plants, more wells and diversion of fresh-water sources, meanwhile, are permanent solutions to California's water shortage.
Costa says that conservation may make us feel better, but it is not the solution, and that as a result, California agriculture is in danger.
Can you imagine a California without agriculture?
Costa says, “I have been attending water board meetings in my area (Monterey) for half a decade. During this time, we have not generated a single drop of new water. We have the need. We have the technology…ideas that can solve the problem…die in committee.”
Purists will not like the following solution to those $500 water bills, but summer is coming and our lawn looks nice. The solution is this. There's a gym in Pasadena. The towels are fluffy, there's free Kiehl's and there’s no septic tank.
It's a sacrifice, but I'm doing my part even though the drought is “officially” over.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.