Water Ethics and Fatal Narcissism

RECEIVED Tue., Nov. 19, 2013

Dear Editor,
    Amy Smith appears to declare in her "Then There's This: High and Dry" [News, Nov. 15] piece on wells being drilled by wealthy Austinites to irrigate their vanity landscapes, that the Chronicle was the first chronicler of this disease, having reported on it in the July 15, 2011 edition. I took on that matter in a blog piece published on the Austin EcoNetwork website September 8, 2009. It so happened that I was launching a series entitled "The Conservation Chronicles," and the news had just come out about the "Rollingwood Two" applying for a permit to pump one million gallons per year for their vanity garden. So I used that to highlight a very basic problem, which is really at the heart of the behavior of those richies and, really, most of the rest of us – this society lacks a "water ethic." These people want that water, they can afford to take it, and we accord them the legal right to take it, sustainability be damned. I summed up the root problem in that blog piece this way: "This is the very sort of question which is at the heart of the human dilemma here in the 21st century, when all of the planetary ecological systems are in decline. This unwillingness to take sustainability into account in determining how we act and live is considered by many to be a disease of the human mind, a fatal narcissism, that if not cured will lead to the demise of the current planetary civilization, exactly because we do not act to sustain its ecological underpinnings. Water is one small, though critical, part of that larger problem."
    That's the real story here, not the snobbish, self-absorbed behavior of some of our most fortunate citizens.
David Venhuizen
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