Let us never refer to this post.

I am opposed to metaphors and analogies in debate.  They distract from clean rigorous thinking; they drag the discussion into tangents that waste time.  That said, I’ve thought of two, on different topics.  I will put them both in this post to keep my shame isolated.  Kind readers will discreetly never mention them again.

In today’s discussion between Mr. Wenger and Dr. Gleick about water rights, Mr. Wenger says:

There are a lot of people right now who want to tell farmers what crops to grow (or not to grow), what sorts of irrigation systems to use, etc., and to change a water rights system on which many farmers have built their livelihoods. Those folks still get a paycheck, whether their theories prove right or wrong in the end. I would like to see them be more accountable somehow — or at least acknowledge the very real consequences of their theories for the people who have to live with them.

Hey!  That’s me!  (Although I wouldn’t get involved in selection of irrigation system, which I think is lateral, field and crop specific.)  Of course I will continue to dodge accountability with my pseudonymous blog, but I will absolutely acknowledge the very real consequences of my prescriptions.  I say plainly that people’s ways of life are at stake.  I have said so for years.  My message here has been that as a rich state, we should manage the transition and use money to cushion the change for the people who will suffer.

Shameful metaphor 1:
I feel like I have been shouting at farmers to get out of their burning house and in return, farmers don’t like my blog because I keep pointing out that their house is burning.


I feel pique when I see ag advocates and House Republicans call for “flexibility” in managing water for endangered smelt.  I don’t know how many smelt there once were; I have heard there were millions.  Let’s say there were 9.5 million of them once.  The last smelt trawl found six (6) of them.  That’s a survey, perhaps it sampled from a current population of hundreds in the entire Delta.  Let’s say, 500 of them.

Shameful metaphor 2:

Imagine that, in all of California, there were exactly 500 acres of farmland left and when those were gone, agriculture would never return to the state.  If there were only 500 acres of agriculture left in the entire state, then agriculture would have taken a hit proportional to the one that fish populations in the Delta have taken.  If you cared about agriculture, you might not feel very “flexible” about protecting the remaining 500 acres.  If that comes to pass, I will support protections for that last 500 acres of ag that are as absolute as the Endangered Species Act provides to species that are nearly gone.



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5 responses to “Let us never refer to this post.

  1. If it were only as simple as the livelihoods Mr. Wenger make it out to be. How many livelihoods are affected by hedge funds investing long term in the recent development of tens of thousands of acres the very profitable almond export industry? Who are these people? Could you supply a complete list, including workers as well as investors? And could we compare their situations to those who find that their wells no longer have any water in them?

  2. Surely you are shouting to the farmers that their neighborhood is on fire, and they are displeased because you want to demolish 35% of the houses in it as a firebreak rather than try to put it out? Sorry to belabor your hated metaphor…

  3. onthepublicrecord

    The other problem with metaphors is that they can be cruelly turned against you.

  4. David Brower

    I think Brian is on the right track here. With no action, 50% burns taking out the surrounding natural areas and rendering it irrebuildable, or we regulate 25% out of business to make the rest fireproof.

  5. David Brower

    I’m sorry, that should read “the solution derived by local control. . . “