It’s Time for “Big Water”

The day will come when water will be more precious than oil.

It has already come in some places and cases, but as a society we haven’t begun thinking of it in that way.

Picture the “Great Hydro-Paradox”: on one hand we have severe water shortages in places like California and various other agricultural regions; parched land; crops failing; animals dying; farmers and small business operators in financial crisis; the national food supply becoming precarious. (Typically, 11 US states experience episodic or chronic drought: Arizona; California; Colorado; Montana; Nevada; New Mexico; North Dakota; Oregon; Utah; Washington; and Wyoming.)

At the very same time, people in vulnerable coastal areas like Florida and Louisiana are swamped by torrential rains; wading hip-deep in churning water; their flooded houses damaged beyond repair; automobiles swept away to destruction; drownings and other consequential loss of life; public services knocked out; and many businesses utterly destroyed. 

All in the same country on the same day.

Suppose we decided to give water the same commercial, technological, and logistical priority that we’ve always given to oil? What’s to stop us from moving water around on the same scale as we move oil?

Let’s Rethink the Environment: Caring for the Commons

Global Warming: that phrase has become an emotionally charged shorthand—a handle for a whole grab-bag of controversies, conflicts, issues, problems, and—for some people—opportunities to bring the American Republic into the modern age.

Few themes in the national conversation have generated so much heat and so little light, and few topics have tribalized Americans so intensely around competing ideologies.

We need to unpack this relatively simple concept, look at its components, and get some sense of its politics—how Americans currently think and feel about it, if they think about it at all.