June 12 Mail: Water Hogs, Shad Khan and Advice for Graduates
Learn the Facts About Water
The letter [“It Is Impossible to Waste Water,” May 29] asserts that Folio Weekly is engaged in fear-mongering and is somehow following a socialist agenda with no regard for the truth by publishing the identity of Water Hogs. The writer justifies his outrage with a simplistic assumption that equates the purchase of treated fresh water from a public water supply utility with a fuzzy interpretation of property rights. He ignores the fact that the quantity of water the utility can pump is regulated by a government agency and that this quantity is established based on a contentious process that seeks to ensure that the water is used to serve public purpose, including economic and ecological factors as well as resource availability. The utility has a duty to ensure that fresh potable water, an extremely scarce resource, is distributed in ways that serve the public good.
Unfortunately, the writer compounds his initial mistake by making brash, but inaccurate, assertions typical of much anti-government, political rhetoric. First, he states that “ … the most abundant substance found on Earth is water.” Wrong again: While water is quite abundant on the surface of the Earth, most water exists as seawater or brine; these waters are saturated with chemical elements that render it unfit for human consumption or irrigation. In other words, most of the water available for use on Planet Earth is non-potable. It is true that the elemental components of water, hydrogen and oxygen, are also quite abundant. In fact, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe; oxygen is also abundant. Unfortunately, most of the hydrogen and oxygen found on Earth is bound up with elements like iron, calcium, silicon and carbon in non-aqueous compounds, like iron ore, limestone, sand and hydrocarbons that are also quite non-potable. In reality, fresh potable hydrogen dioxide (water) is actually quite rare.
Finally, from an economic perspective, the writer ignores the fact that the pricing mechanisms consistent with his grade school understanding of economics cannot be trusted to allocate fresh water among millions of users. Water is a commodity that cannot be equitably distributed using simplistic supply-demand pricing models. When water is abundant, it is quite cheap. But during some extreme weather events, like a flood, it has no little economic value. However, when rainfall patterns are disrupted and water is scarce, like during a drought, water can be quite expensive. Under certain circumstances a sip of water can be priceless.
Government regulation to conserve supply and regulate demand is the only fair, not to mention cost-effective, means of allocating this scarce resource among millions of users. And public oversight of this regulatory process, by the news media and public interest groups, is the only effective way of ensuring that government policy fairly distributes this increasingly scarce and irreplaceable resource.
Water policy is really rather straightforward once one understands the underlying principles of economics and simply principles of hydrology. Too many self-described conservatives, libertarians and anti-government ideologues jump into environmental debates without doing their homework. Political science is not a substitute for hard science. To be credible, conservatives need to use accurate facts and understand how the fundamental laws of science (physics, chemistry and biology) and economic philosophy must be used to interpret the meaning of those facts.
By the way, rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities (atmospheric levels are now at 400 ppmv and rising exponentially) are causing changes in Earth’s energy balance that are disrupting long-stable global climate patterns; these are the forces that control rainfall distribution and are shifting in ways that nobody can predict. Thermodynamics 101.
Unchecked, the consequences for humanity could be disastrous. If you think that this is another socialist conspiracy, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.
David E. Bruderly
Drinkable Water Is a Rare Resource
To the guy that wrote in stating “it is impossible to waste water,” I would ask, what in the world have you been smoking? The only sensible thing he stated was that the most abundant substance on Earth is water. Beyond that, his ignorance kicks in.
As far as his statement that 300 million gallons of water per day is used to create newsprint, that may be true, but the vast majority of that water used is reclaimed or reused, not drinkable.
When people talk about water use and conservation, they are generally referring to “potable water” or “drinkable water.” Less than 1 percent of the Earth’s water qualifies as such. Many wells and most municipalities in Florida in particular, get their water from the aquifer. This water is not replaceable nearly as fast as it is removed. Many times when the aquifer is overused, salt water intrudes into it, rendering it useless for drinking or most other uses. Until the day comes when saltwater can be made drinkable relatively inexpensively, drinking water will slowly become among our rarest resources. Until the thinking that water is endless and “cannot be wasted” is stopped, ignorance will prevail and future wars just may be fought over water, not oil.
I am not an environmentalist, nor am I a “water hog,” but merely a person that has taken the time to learn my facts and do my best to conserve.
Open Letter to Shad Khan
My name is Jennifer O’Donnell, and I am the chairman and cofounder of Jax Pack Downtown Merchants Association and also the manager of Chamblin’s Uptown Bookstore & Café.
As a new association created to represent the needs of the Downtown merchants, our group’s founders met with Mayor Alvin Brown recently to introduce ourselves and to offer our hand to help with the revitalization of our downtown core. During our discussion, Mayor Brown mentioned that you were looking for a Starbucks in our Downtown.
Did you know that we have three independently owned coffeehouses in the core of Downtown? The Brick, Midtown Deli and Chamblin’s Uptown. Three local coffeehouses that buy coffee from local roasters such as Bold Bean and SweetWater coffee. Three local coffeehouses that buy and resell baked goods that are made by small and local independent bakeries like Let Them Eat Cake, thus providing local jobs and income to stimulate the local economy.
Mr. Khan, you came from humble beginnings and have done well. You have purchased our beloved football team and revamped them, you have generously begun the Stache Fund, and you gave a substantial donation to our very first One Spark event. I think that these actions alone tell us that you have a fondness for the growth and revitalization of your new-found “hometown.” So to thank you for your kindness, we at Chamblin’s Uptown would like to invite you and Mrs. Khan to come to our modest café and have a wonderful espresso drink (my personal favorite is the Dirty Chai Latte iced) on us. You will be supporting local businesses that support other local businesses. And you can take a few minutes and glance at our 600,000-plus book inventory.
We welcome you to Chamblin’s Uptown.
Good Advice for Graduates
Your advice column for graduates was absolutely stunning in its sensible practicality [“Commencing with the Advice,” May 29].
Wouldn’t it have been a game-changer to have followed these tenets when they would have had the biggest impact (I guess I am assuming you have learned some lessons the hard way - like most of us)?
My son graduates from Stanton next week. I’m going to read it OUT LOUD to him.