On a different page than any I have mentioned before, Dr. Bendell writes:
Some scholarship has looked at the process of denial more closely. Drawing on sociologist Stanley Cohen, Foster (2015) identifies two subtle forms of denial – interpretative and implicative. If we accept certain facts but interpret them in a way that makes them “safer” to our personal psychology, it is a form of “interpretative denial”. If we recognise the troubling implications of these facts but respond by busying ourselves on activities that do not arise from a full assessment of the situation, then that is “implicative denial”. Foster argues that implicative denial is rife within the environmental movement, from dipping into a local Transition Towns initiative, signing online petitions, or renouncing flying, there are endless ways for people to be “doing something” without seriously confronting the reality of climate change.
I am not going to do anything radical, like go read Foster (2015). That is not the blogging way. But I will latch on to the concept of ‘implicative denial.’ Because that shit is real.
To the extent that people take their cues from what official California is doing, when the State is dicking around instead of facing hard things, the implicative denial is contagious. This is why it was (and is) so pernicious that the State Board wouldn’t ban new plantings of orchards during the drought years. They were telling us all that it was serious enough for every one of us to undertake moderate hassle, but their actions conveyed that it wasn’t serious enough for them to avert new, consistent, decades-long new water demand*. When people get two conflicting messages about how seriously to take the drought, denial will urge them to the weaker message.
Implicative denial also explains my impatience with each administration setting up a new water philosophy (CALFED, co-equal, portfolio, multi-benefit). Seriously? Defining that and then working on a framework, performance measures, indices, alignment and re-org? That’s what you are doing with your time? Now? In this era? Here, folks. Here’s your resilience portfolio:
- Zone 2M irrigated acres to feed CA vegetable calories; make sure they get water every year. Set additional 1M acre increments to get water depending on the water year. Work from east to west in the Valley. Turn the entire Delta to sequestering carbon. (ag)
- Set instream flows 70% of unimpaired flows in every river. (enviro)
- Set 55gppd for every person’s personal water use. Source those as close to the use as possible. Pay the staggering costs of replacing our aged-out infrastructure. (urban)
- Get us out of the NFIP, set up new CFID to get people priced out of floodplains, pay for setback levees. (flood)
- Supplement CIMIS with a new whole-state, public access remote sensing tool (data)
There. That would get you 90% of the way to resilience
until society collapses in my lifetime for thirty years. Now you can stop dithering over what the portfolio really means and start doing the necessary work. In Water, Jerry Brown wasted his two terms. We do not have time for another administration to waste on implicative denial.
*Hey! The Almond Nursery report came out today. 41,000 new acres of almonds in 2018 and 32,000 acres of replacement almonds in 2018. So that’s exciting.