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The Alphabet Series: W is for Water

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 30, 2000


"Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." — Henry David Thoreau

We have it great here in San Diego County, truly one of the finest places to live in the world. We enjoy a quality of life that most would envy, why then are we so intent on messing it up in the name of a misguided sense of prosperity?

I realize that people have a great deal involved with the issues before us. Some I agree with, others I don't. What bothers me is the imbalance of the whole process. Now I'm not talking about the Browns and the Greens, what I'm talking about is man against nature. All of us, against all of it. Resembling the story of David and Goliath, only this time David is the bad guy, and instead of one stone he throws thousands...daily.

Many folks believe that money makes the world go round, which is only true if we accept it as such. Once upon a time Americans had a reverence for land. There was a pride associated with stewardship, that did not involve selling out to the highest bidder. There was an understanding that put well-being before profits. Where is the America of my grandparents? When did restraint go out of fashion?

Growth has become a self-perpetuating ideology that is far from  sustainable. While creating an ever increasing burden on future generations, it requires more where there is none. We can not go on at our current pace and expect even a fraction of our current good fortune twenty years from now. Open space is being eradicated faster then you can say California Gnatcatcher. Once a desert, San Diego county is now just a sprawling suburb oblivious to any thing other than immediate gratification.

Water scarcity is a good example. As a governing board, the San Diego Association of Governments is working to accommodate a million more people in the region, completely ignoring the fact that water resources in San Diego County are stretched to their limits. As if trapped in a nasty game of Catch-22, water infrastructure is being built to meet the needs of existing residents, while cities continue to approve residential developments that place a further burden on water supplies.

Limiting growth is in no way anti-progress. Nor is it anti-business. By managing growth in a sustainable way we do more than protect our current quality of life, we actually provide opportunity for future generations. An overpopulated region of thirsty people is nothing to look forward to. Neither is a constantly contaminated beach or a complete loss of biodiversity.

Blinded by comfort, convenience, and a healthy dose of uncontrolled greed, we are making choices on par with a kid in a candy store. All too willing to indulge, we fail to consider the consequences of our actions. Now at the pinnacle of our success, enslaved by expectations, we sit fat and unhappy making ourselves sick with desire. The only question remaining is when will we learn when to push away from the proverbial table, and begin living within our means.

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