Drought Shaming May be Our Only Hope

Photo by Lydia Chavez.

Walking along 24th Street this morning, I saw a fairly typical early Sunday morning scene: vendors spraying down the sidewalks from Saturday night’s mess. I didn’t think much of it until I was perusing the New York Times and came across this article, reminding me that, yes, California is still in a severe drought.

The situation is so easy to forget in our foggy, damp town far away from the arid fields and dried out reservoirs. Our forgetting may be cause for alarm. As the Times reports, we as a state have only cut down our water consumption by five percent since the drought was declared five months ago. We should be reducing our consumption by 20 percent.

So what tools are urbanites blind to the natural elements to use faced with this pervasive indifference? The Times has got an answer: shame. The article details various efforts to publicly shame friends, neighbors, and local governments for wasting water. Here’s one funny, telling anecdote:

Even those who are already water-conscious can occasionally benefit from guilt-laden reminders, though.

Femke Oldham, a graduate student who has studied resource conservation at the University of California, Berkeley, was walking with her fiancé on a sunny weekend when they passed a few children throwing water balloons. She suggested it would be fun to get some of their own.

He shot back, “Femke, we’re in a drought.”

“It made me feel guilty for wanting to use water in a way that was not necessary,” said Ms. Oldham, 29.

The piece also has good video explainer of the drought if you’re behind on your news of ecological catastrophe. It explains that if things continues at the same pace the price of avocados could rise by 28 percent by the end of the summer! If that isn’t enough cause for alarm, I think we’re doomed.

Anyone else have some good drought shaming stories? Somebody they want to shame publicly? And, really, is shaming enough to deal with this issue? Leave a comment or send us a tweet with your thoughts.

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One Comment

  1. I roll

    Jeebus, folks. Is this constructive, or are we back in junior high?
    (not that mine was like this, but still…)

    Encourage agricultural users to sell their water on the open market.

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