24 Aug 2009

Weekend Discussion -- Open Thread

NOTE: This post will stay here until Sunday night. Posts for Saturday and Sunday morning go below this post.

Dear Aguanauts,

Discussion posts allow you to discuss a topic among yourselves -- exchanging views, learning and teaching. (I only read the comments.)

If you are interested, take a moment to check out (and add to!) last week's discussion on online communities. After that, please give us your thoughts on...

Anything you want -- it's an open thread where you direct the conversation...

[I am trying something different here...]


  1. Here is a question.

    What practical steps will get citizens and politicians to consider water rights to be a current problem not one in the vague future?

  2. Eric,

    Persistence. Water rights are of great concern and citizen acknowledgement is high in the SW, but the rights are convoluted and opaque to the average person.

    Look at health care and the kinds of points people believe.

    Perhaps a movie....not a disaster film, which is fun and easy to dismiss, but something that forces real conservation and price increases as supply is diminshed somehow...maybe minutemen blow up aquaducts?

  3. Rdan,

    Movies, while interesting, usually are preaching to the choir. What methods might work to engage those who are not in the choir? As on many other issues, engaging the non choir seems to be the critical difficulty.

    Persistence feels good, but it is not clear whether it works. For people more liberal or more conservative than I am, I have been persistent for years. There is little to show for this persistence except in a few cases. These few people were already primed to think differently.

    They were thinking about joining the choir already.

    Learning from how scientists or marketers influence others might be a useful study that could then be applied to water rights.

    Does this sound possible?

    The difficulty, of course, is that humans respond to immediate crises and not to less immediate ones. Is there a way to make the problems of water rights be perceived by the non-choir as immediate problems of higher priority than fears about Al Qaeda, for example?

    The only traction that is being made on the problem of climate change, another long term problem, seems to be people's desire not to have their grandchildren lead diminished lives.

  4. @Eric
    Your point about reaching the non-choir is one of the key points of this blog. The 20% who do what's right because they want to do right (the choir) and the 80% (non-choir) who must be convinced to do what's right thru pricing mechanisms (i.e. including external costs, opportunity costs, etc. in the price of water so that consumers consider the true cost of water in their daily decisions regarding water use). water rights can remain and will be more properly allocated if markets are permitted to properly price water.

  5. @Chris
    also David

    What is a mechanism that will 'properly price water'? The people who set the price of water now do not seem to have any incentive to work for 'properly priced' water.

    I don't know how to get today's prices to acknowledge tomorrow's shortage except through not only market pricing but also a futures market.



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