My last day off was Wednesday, and a friend of ours (the Evil Twins’ dad) gave a call just to see what was up, and as he admitted, because he was bored. This guy is a religious-right type, but not into teabagger territory; he supported Huckabee in the primary and voted the way his preacher told him to in the general.
Anyway, he likes to ramble from topic to topic, and the incoming rain led to discussion of water issues in general — primarily the drought that we left behind for now. Water politics is pretty complex on Planet Georgia, when it’s not a complete hairball. Lake Lanier is one of several Corps of Engineers reservoirs, but seems to draw the most attention since it’s Atlanta’s primary water supply. The lakefront counties want some of the water themselves, the (mostly) wealthy lakeshore property owners want their docks to stay afloat, Atlanta and smaller cities downstream want a drink, and there has to be a certain amount of water in the Apalachicola to maintain barge traffic. None of this was an issue 20 years ago, when we had an even worse drought (the pasture here looked like a Marscape), before people started flooding into Atlanta and points mostly north. At some point, the population and its water demands exceeded the minimum supply. I pointed out that limiting further development would go a long way toward preventing even worse problems in the future. And he said…
“But when you talk about limiting growth, you’re also hurting income!”
“Well, what would you rather have?” I asked. “Income, or a drink of water?” He changed the subject.
A lot of the problems we’re facing today — climate change, peak oil, water and soil depletion, the economy, etc. — stem from an inability (or more likely, willful refusal) to determine how much is enough. People cruise along with their lives and careers, perhaps with a vague notion that their locale or the world are reaching carrying capacity in some aspects, but make no attempt to do anything about it. Perhaps they expect someone else to solve “the problem” (which, as the Archdruid is fond of saying, is actually a predicament); perhaps they are afraid to make waves at home or work. The result, in either case, is the same.
“Enough” is a good place to be. A small, slightly ratty-looking car is fine for getting me to work and back and is less likely to be molested by thieves or vandals. Enough house costs less than too much house, in terms of both mortgage and utilities. Enough income… well, with FAR Manor, there’s never enough income, but if the expenses would go away you can bet I wouldn’t be working so much. Enough commerce would support a stable population without creating environmental issues. I could go on, but you get the point.
The problem is, finding a politician brave enough to say “enough.”