Someone who thinks about climate change and markets the way I do (1 of 3).

I have been watching the water field for decades.  I attend meetings and read accounts of other meetings.  I read policy recommendations until I am nearly numb to them.  I cannot summon any more interest in the intriguing in the Delta, for example.  Based on exposure to lots of ways to consider water and a willingness to trust my own assessments, I have slowly kludged together a mostly-consistent philosophy.  I may or may not have convinced some readers, and maybe there’s more agreement for parts of it than I know (although I suspect that pieces get cherry-picked to support other advocacy, which is perfectly fine).  Until yesterday, I had never seen my philosophy expressed elsewhere.  Yesterday, out of nowhere, I found a blog-popular author who isn’t on the water circuit.  S/he has assessed the situation exactly the way I have, for the same reasons.  I felt such relief reading the three water posts.  I keep reading people whom I know to be bright come to wrong different conclusions than the ones I’ve drawn.  I didn’t know how much I wanted to hear someone else say the things I say for the same reasons.

The pieces are long, give more water background than my readers need, and ramble a bit. I don’t know if you want to read them all.  But I want to highlight the things s/he says that I found deeply resonant.

From the March 18th post, which is even titled Climate Change, the “Free Market” & the California Drought:

The political problem is not an absence of power, but an unwillingness to use it. Right now the list of options is constrained to “free market” solutions only — limited to only those solutions that our wealth-captured government will consider –

I predict, as the crisis worsens for more and more people — impoverishing and destroying life after life — the press for solutions will reach flood levels.

It’s only a matter then of what solutions will be considered. When people stop letting the rich say, “Well, we can’t throw money at it,” we’ll be on our way to solving this. We can throw money at it, the money of the wealthy first –

Yes to all of those.  I am astonished by how strong this administration’s voice has been for markets.  I thought Governor Brown’s Jesuit training would help him evaluate other ways to allocate water besides economic efficiency, but it hasn’t been the case.  Not one appointed-level person has yet said anything besides “the market should dictate our choices.  We can’t make choices different from The Market.”

Quibble with the second point.  Yes, the drought is damaging lives, but those are mostly the lives of poor people and we don’t generally care about that.  I don’t think the drought has to actually destroy lives of urban Californians before they demand change.  They just have to get tired of carrying warm-up water out to their plants and have an initiative to vote on.

I have been making the point that money and water can be fungible.  If we want farms to maintain their capacity through droughts and be there in the next normal year, we could just give farmworkers and farmers cash to get by during drought years.  Money can gather and clean the next source of water for you (wastewater, stormwater, brackish water, sea water), the source of water that was too annoying to pay for when snow and rivers delivered clean water in one place.  I would love to spend the money of the wealthy on those things.

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One response to “Someone who thinks about climate change and markets the way I do (1 of 3).

  1. Jan

    Another great series (parts 1 through 3). I follow your blog and read them religiously – great information. I typically find your thinking is very much in-line with mine or I learn a bunch and re-think our strategy. I am surprised you don’t think your messages are getting out and appreciated. I re-post many in our Save the California Delta Alliance ( blog and Facebook page

    I tried to simplify the water situation last year in my children’s book, “The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish,” on Amazon. The story is very simple. The North was happy to share it’s water with the urban users and farmers in the south. But the wealthy farmers in the south (and L.A. developers) don’t share well.

    The Sacramento Bee Editorial a week ago touted learning from Australia, and how they solved their water crisis. On the list was a “Competitive Water Markets.” I was interested to read your take on that.

    I’ve seen your writings on Senior Water Rights but talk of dismantling them are concerning to me. Now, the small, poor, family farmers are the ones with the Senior rights and the new, big ag corporations (aka Resnick and others) have Junior rights. If we dismantle the system, isn’t that going to then give more water rights to Westlands and the farmers spreading almond crops throughout the desert? However, I’m in TOTAL agreement that the paper water contracts for more water than exists is a HUGE issue.