The war and death rhetoric is a real problem.

Mr. Watkins, president of the San Joaquin Valley Farm Bureau, has written an op-ed titled Agriculture: Fight or Die.  Those are not actually the choices.  The choices for members of the San Joaquin Valley farm bureau include suing, retiring, moving their farms, drilling expensive wells, possibly getting government grants or collecting from insurance policies.  But they are not water “warriors” who kill people over water.  Nor do they enter battle over water with the risk of dying from weaponry.  If legal remedies do not supply water to them, they will only die if they take their own lives.  Otherwise, they may retire.  They may not have a valuable farm to leave to their descendants.  Neither of the two choices framed in the title are the actual choices that farmers face.

I wrote about this in the last drought, too.  This rhetoric narrows people’s perceived choices, keeps their limbic system activated and postpones mutual solutions.  Responsible reporters and editors should stop using it.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The war and death rhetoric is a real problem.

  1. Ken Neubecker

    Language defines arguments and actions far more than people realize. In Colorado our term for environmental and other water needs not tied to the traditional agricultural and domestic uses is “Non-consumptive”. This places all thinking and discussion of water use directly into the framework of traditional “consumptive” uses and technology. It also gives it a somewhat negative connotation, as if consumptive uses that require water being diverted and removed from a river as less important (and treats rivers purely as conduits for the conveyance of water to a point of diversion). I have made a point of explaining this and not using the phrase “non-consumptive” for the past 12 years and I think its starting to have an impact.

  2. Daniel

    Hi. You are doing great work here. I am constantly frustrated by not being able to re-post these to publictrustwater on Twitter and Fb. Maybe you don’t want that to happen, if not I fully respect that. Thoughts?

  3. onthepublicrecord

    No thoughts. You’re looking at ignorance, not intention. I just haven’t figured out that functionality. I’ll go look at the sharing widgets again.

  4. onthepublicrecord

    Dude. Far as I can tell, I added Share buttons to each post. But I am not seeing them.