Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fervent Water Discussion

This editorial from the Bee on Saturday is partly right about the religious fervor of the water discussion, though the fervor is pretty much on one side.

This fervent way of thinking—an environmental theology really— has been well described by Alston Chase in his 1986 book, Playing God in Yellowstone: The destruction of America’s first National Park: “Through their intense theorizing the California Cosmologists [California environmentalist leaders from the 1970’s & 1980’s] saw their New Philosophy of Nature assimilated into our national culture. Spread by seminars, foundation workshops, and the grassroots network of public-interest organizations, and propelled by opposition to President Reagan and his Interior Secretary James Watt—their ideas became part of mainline thinking. Man, all were agreed, was the source of environmental evil, nature was sacred, traditional science suspect; the idea of interconnectedness, though left unexplored, earned a ritual bow and was enshrined in the quasi-mystical idea of the ecosystem.” (p. 359)

Those who realize it is a matter of human beings controlling the more destructive aspects of nature like flooding believe, based on past experience, that humans can soften natures often destructive forces through technology like dams, which beavers taught humans about.

Based on past experience, that is a reasonable assumption.

Those who see controlling the more destructive aspects of nature like flooding, through the use of “water conservation, more costal preservation and more Birkenstocks”, while arguably valuable adjuncts or outgrowths of technology, are more often part of the fervent discussion generated by New Age thinking.

Concrete generally works much better at stopping water from flooding than Birkenstocks.

Here is an excerpt.

Editorial: Water's two religions
Beware a clash of Birkenstocks, concrete
Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, March 18, 2006

In the recent failed bond talks, legislators debated the merits of new reservoirs for California with a religious-type fervor that bordered on the bizarre. It is appropriate to take an agnostic view on the matter.

A new reservoir is neither inherently good nor evil. It all depends on the reservoir's details - where it is, how it is to be managed, who is to pay for it. Lawmakers couldn't put together a package of education, water, parks, flood control and transportation bonds for the June ballot.
They failed on The Surface Storage Debate as well, but it was by far the more ideological.

With about 2,000 dams and reservoirs in the state, new dams and reservoirs really aren't for capturing vast quantities of "new" supply that are now being "lost" to the ocean. The potential value of a new reservoir is more subtle. It has to do with giving the existing system more flexibility in how to move and capture water.