Reducing Water Use
The revolution is in the minutiae of a lifestyle and corporations need to recognize this in their business practices too. Water resources, like all physical resources, are finite. We learned this as we learned that the world is a closed system and what that meant. Economic thought never caught up to this information and it has screwed us. It’s understandable that there was a time when people thought that the world was infinite. After all, humans are really stupid and the information available to us is constantly growing and always inadequate to actually understand the world. However, the fact that resources are finite is strongly founded now and it’s a shame that we haven’t adapted to knowing it. There is a lot of water in the world. I don’t know how much but there’s a lot. There’s seawater and freshwater. There’s the saturated land we call marshland. There are aquifers which are underground caverns that are able to provide water to massive regions for centuries1. There are man-made lakes where rich people steal a bunch of water from their less rich, or less attentive, neighbors so that they can smack little white balls around around an area that looks kind of old-timey natural minus the intensively groomed turf, or build second-homes and let their privileged kids and pets swim/pee in them on nice days. There is a relatively huge amount of the stuff, however, regularly imbibing water is a necessity for most forms of life to continue being life and it isn’t guaranteed to all of us. The cleaner that water is, the better for the individual.
The minutiae of a lifestyle are built by the lifestyle liver’s constant drive to make decisions about how, why, when, and if they will do something. Some people constantly make the decision to maintain addictions to chemicals such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. These addictions generally affect one’s first action of the day, actions throughout the day, purchasing decisions, budgeting decisions, final action of the day, work-life balance, social outlets, and peers. Anybody who spends enough time online to know the word meme also knows the stereotype of a person who believes that people shouldn’t expect them to act civilized before their first cup of coffee. Most people who leave their house and work in a social environment almost definitely know someone with a similar outlook. That outlook is a decision and our small decisions add up to have massive consequences, in this case it would be that some of your peers think you would be less of a dick if you cut down on your coffee intake. Well, today, I want to discuss humans’ relationships with water and why I wish that it was a part of the zeitgeist that people thought of water-abuse as a negative trait.
Now, despite the knowledge of finite clean water, people who’re used to having it available to them constantly have a very limited understanding of how much they waste and what that means. Beyond drinking the stuff and using it to cook, Westerners like to shower in it, water patches of useless greenery known as grass in it, wash sidewalks with it, excrete and urinate into it, apply it liberally to clothing and dishes to clean them, put it on the bedside table before bed only to throw it out in the morning, and generally just find any reason to use a lot of it. I’m not saying that all of these activities are unnecessary, necessary is a relative term. Good hygiene has saved millions of lives in our hospitals and restaurants. People generally approve of things that have saved the lives of other people they care about. But, excessive water use steals clean water from future generations and, over time, contaminates more of the water available to us.
Youth in communities across America are plagued by brain development issues including irreversible brain damage due to dangerous levels of lead in their water sources. Estrogen from pharmaceuticals in natural water systems has been traced as the cause of the development of hermaphroditic fish around the country and insignificant doses of pharmaceutical chemicals are commonly found in water supplies, thus our bodies, in the West. Then there are the industries that demand or take the right to pollute water resources for the sake of profit. The oil industry has spilled so much oil into the sea and freshwater sources that one might think they’re doing it on purpose. If clean, freshwater sources become sparse then the owners of desalination plants and their patents stand to gain a lot of power. So, with the incestuous nature of billionairedom it is likely that the oil tycoons, other pollutive industry profiteers, and the regulative boards who overlook their common trespasses and give them slap-on-the-wrist fines when caught all have the common interest, possibly through stock investments and backdoor deals, in vastly reducing the amount of potable water available to the privileged side of society who can afford to pay for it.
This story still hasn’t touched on the 1 in 10 people who rely on polluted water for their needs. Their water sources were destroyed by industry or bought out from under them a long time ago. According to studies by the UN and WHO, in Africa and Asia women and children walk an average of 3.7 miles to retrieve water every day. The Philanthropic Industrial Complex does its best to make their corporate donors look and feel good by fundraising for wells in communities throughout the developing world, but the problem persists. We use and waste immense amounts of water and imagine that it’s just a drop in the bucket of what exists, which might be true. But we contaminate clean water available to us in a toilet 30 feet from our bed and don’t think about the people who never even see water that clean..
The privileged need to examine their relationship to water and energy in general. We need to change our habits and behaviors and we need to consider the needs of the other side of humanity who would love to waste water like us.
1With population growth and extraction intensive practices increasing, we’ll see how much longer.