14 Sep 2009

Speed Blogging

  • The human toll from the Vegas meltdown. It is worse than elsewhere because Vegas grew so fast, so unsustainably. Thank Pat Mulroy.

  • "The lack of clean water is one of Egypt's most urgent problems... Corruption, pollution and wastage are to blame... because water tariffs are too low. UN-appointed expert Catarina de Albuquerque reported [doc] that the "tariff for drinking water in Egypt is considered one of the lowest tariffs in the world, with over 92 percent of households spending less than 1 percent of their household budget on water and sanitation"... Many farmers to use untreated wastewater to grow their crops. In the beginning of August 2009, the minister of Agriculture announced that all fruit and vegetables irrigated with sewage have to be destroyed." Read more

  • Illinois is west of the Mississippi.

  • "To deliver public infrastructure services to citizens or taxpayers, there are a series of decisions that governments have to make... Theory suggests that in general it would be a good option to contract out infrastructure to the private sector under high-powered incentive mechanisms, such as fixed-price contracts... Theory also shows that ownership should be aligned with the ultimate responsibility for or objective of infrastructure provision. Public and private ownership have different advantages and can deal with different problems."

  • "Does dowsing for water really work?" No.

  • "Do we have to make trade-offs between biodiversity and ecosystem services?" Yes.

  • India gets half its rain in 15 days, and the monsoon has failed this year. That problem is made worse by the government's poor policies and incentives.

  • Other San Diego politicians fill the policy gap left by their mayor -- by proposing higher prices: "If a commodity costs nothing, that becomes the value of it," Frye said. "And people are not going to conserve what has little or no value to them." Hear hear!


  1. Companies often do not bid on fixed price contracts with the government because the government routinely changes the contract terms part way through the contract, often multiple times. So government contractors either have a renegotiating clause or just walk away from the contract.

    If the government and the contract was stable, fixed price would work well. As it is, if you are a company bidding on straightforward fixed price, you lose a lot of money and go out of business.

    Just some background.

  2. David: What? If you define ecosystem services as "intensive farming where provisioning services are maximised" then big ag is the ecosystem service. Intensive farming is among the narrowest most skewed ecosystem service that one could conceive. Sort of like coal mines and oil wells are ecosystem services. How about highways and landfills as ecosystem services.

  3. Re the LA Times piece on Vegas hardship. Pat facilitated and became the face of development. But she had masters: Big gaming and the Nevada delegation, led by Harry Reid and the now publicly ridiculous John Ensign.

    Las Vegas could never have exploded had Reid et al not made it possible through a network of land deals (SNPLMA and on) that drove runaway development (6,000 new arrivals a month until the crash) in arguably the least sustainable place in the country.

    Las Vegas should be grateful for the economic implosion. It has a chance to rethink its growth policy. Hard hats, many bussed in from California for Tea Party like demands for Pat's water exploits, need to build where there is water, or expect busts.

    Also, Pat Mulroy recent backpedalling on the "third straw" into Lake Mead was fascinating, and deserves more attention.

    In the meantime, it's rumored that Reid will have a fight to keep his senate seat. He's a fierce and skillful politician and it seems unlikely that he will be defeated, but he may deserve to lose nonethess.

    He is front and center among the Southern Nevadan boosters who made this mess. Nevadans need to ask themselves who and what he served best in driving wealth and population to an unstable insta-city in the desert, and then vote their consciences.

  4. I'm with Emily Green on this one. Water managers do not set land use policy, although their actions may be guided, in part, by land use policy. Pat Mulroy may have had opportunity to tell the land use mgrs to slow down because of water constraints, but I'm not so sure she had authority to refuse to supply new development with water.

  5. @FC -- Argue with the paper, not with me :)

    @EG/CB -- Pat might shake things up wrt water policies if she faces the possibility of getting fired for allowing a shortage to develop.


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