March 19, 2007

Are you feeling good yet?

Continuing a never ending series of environmental messages, sponsored by Duck Friday ™, because ducks are part of the environment and have avowed to offset their farts by 100% by doubling their flying time, thereby reducing their web print. Today they also took a shorter bath, and didn’t splash, so no water was wasted.

Turn off lights and appliances to save on your electricity bills.

Don’t keep the tap running when you’re brushing your teeth, and don’t hose down your driveway, because both will only cost you in higher water bills, having used up the water for no useful purpose. If you’re going to use water, and pay for it, one way or another, then at least make sure the cost is worthwhile, or economically rational, if you like.

Take your reusable bags to the supermarket too, if you really believe Australia, or the entire world, is going to run out of landfill at any tick of the clock, ‘cause, gee, there’s so little land, ‘ey?

Do these things because you resent giving big business your hard earned cash, particularly when you have so little choice over the matter, but please, please, please don’t try to tell me that you are saving the world, or that you are extending the life of the pitiful and pitifully neglected water infrastructure and management regime that our governments have laughably provided.

Yeah, yeah, one person can make a difference, right? Imagine the difference that 3 or 4 million little Melbournians can make! Yes, that’s right, those water restrictions, zealously taken to heart, and even more zealously taken to the water-waster-dobber lines, have made ... NO DIFFERENCE.

Let’s say you weigh 425 pounds - you're big boned, okay. The water “savings” made by Melbournians is the equivalent of losing 6 ounces from your 425 pound frame, a weight loss achieved over many months of dedicated dieting and near death-defying gym work outs.

Here's what Dr Byron has to say:

"The little water-saving gestures, like putting a bucket in the shower or turning the tap off while you brush your teeth — while they are good measures, and I do them myself — are exactly that, gestures.

"They are going to contribute almost nothing to solving Australia's water crisis and we are deluding ourselves if we think it's going to be enough,"

He said two or three large irrigators, such as dairy or cotton farms, would use "in a couple of days" the water the entire city of Melbourne could save in a year.

But by comparison Australia's largest irrigator, Queensland cotton farm Cubbie Station, has a water allocation in excess of 400,000 megalitres a year.

The 19,000 megalitres of water saved by Melbournians over the three months of summer would be used by Cubbie Station alone in about 2½ weeks.

Australia uses about 24 million megalitres of water a year. About 75 per cent is used in irrigation, 20 per cent goes to urban and industrial uses and 5 per cent to other rural uses including for stock and domestic needs.

"One of the good things about these small gestures is they indicate public interest and buy-in, that is the public care about this issue, they're concerned about it, and they want to help.

"That's terrific for when it gets to the really serious stage, and we really need to do something that involves a little bit of pain, the public is already onside,"

"But these little gestures will not even get us close to where we want go. If every man, woman and child in Australia was to do it, the difference in water use would be negligible.

"The problem is the big actions carry with them a pretty big tag, but rather than bite the bullet and adopt some of the big changes needed, we're told to be satisfied with making these symbolic gestures."

Unless large-scale water-saving methods were adopted by governments, state and federal, Australia's water crisis would only worsen, Dr Byron said.

The Age, March 19, 2007, Home savings virtually negligible: expert


  1. Anonymous5:05 PM

    Totally spot on Caz.. This crap about households saving water and doing their bit is utter nonsense.

    I've always been a believer in the idea of a pipeline from the Kimberely. They've got more water up there than you can poke a stick at.

    Enough in fact, to solve the whole country's water problems.

    Ernie Bridge a former water resources minister has been advocating this method for about 15 years now...

    Obviously this is not a cheap option.(Some estimates put the cost at well over 10 billion )
    And there are environmental imapacts to be considered...

    But sheesh, we need to get a wriggle on and DO SOMETHING now...

    Certainly before the well runs dry!

  2. Damn right - to hell with these state politicians. They want to make us so obsessed with these petty actions to distract us from their monumental, continuing failure to provide adequate water.

  3. It's like the S.A to Darwin rail line Kath, it was never ever "economically" sensible, but they kept doing their "economic" studies for fifty years, or sixty year, or was it seventy years, all of which came up with the same result.

    Then they finally built it anyway at a staggeringly ridiculous cost, but the economy didn't collapse under debt because of it.

    Think how much cheaper it would have been to build that water pipeline 15 years ago, or 10 years ago.

    Fuck their calculators, and fuck how many black bellied snakes or purple roosters might - MIGHT - be miffed about a pipeline - they should just build it and build it now.

  4. And yes Tim, it is the most absurd distraction.

    Why don't they hand out knitting needles and balls of wool instead, to take everyone's minds off the fact that they'll soon be told not to shower more than twice a year. Yes, that should take care of things for a bit, keep everyone busy knitting and they won't notice that the reason that CONSUMERS (not irrigators, not business) have no water is 100% the fault of dithering, gutless governments that can't think more than three days in advance.

  5. I think Diogenes is right on the money here.

    Water supply is a government monopoly, or totally government regulated, and for that reason alone it is in short supply. And like all government supplied services, when it runs short, those who use it are blamed.

    We know who is to blame for the shortage, don’t we? If water were not a government monopoly it would be due to the incompetence of the supplier. Not so amongst our state governments though. In Queensland, it is not the fault of a succession of cowardly do-nothing governments, it’s a mysterious group of people called the ‘guzzlers’.

    When will we learn and put the blame where it belongs? For a long time anyone has been able to identify the thinking which has led to the current authoritarian water restrictions: no new dams - save water – recycle sewage - if only we were more eco-minded …

    The responsibility does not lie with the water users. It lies with government failure to supply an essential of life; the supply of which it has taken unto itself by its coercive powers. And the government is enjoying every moment: it wants more coercive powers.

  6. Amazing how familiar this all sounds. The boondoggle rail line, the foolish urging to conserve around the house, all of it, including the failure to act now that the drought (in Colorado) is over.

  7. Oh, good to know that you Canadian's aren't any cleverer than us Drunka.

    I’ve always considered perpetual / permanent water restrictions (for consumers) in a first world country to be akin to rationing oxygen.

    But for some reason – which totally escapes me – the populace does not rebel. They meekly take it, as if this is perfectly rational. Community spirit. We’re all in this together. Blah, blah, blah. And they feel good for dobbing in someone who has a green lawn, without considering if that person is using grey water, or tank water, or worse still, they leave abusive graffiti on homes. (Yes, folks, see how easy it is to get an entire population to act out their petty envy and misguided civic duties.)

    Would they finally see the absurdity in this if they were told that brown eyed people could only breathe on Mon, Weds and Sat; blue eyed people on Tues, Thurs, and Sunday, and so on? Would they finally rise up in unison against the idiots running the country, or would they dutifully check for eye color, and dob in anyone not turning blue on their non-breathing days?

    That’s how absurd I think this entire water issue is. We have enough water. There is no water crisis. We have entrenched incompetence and mismanagement, and it has nothing to do with how water is priced – that’s another red herring.