Isenberg: Drought amplifies, not causes, water problems

Smart words from Phil Isenberg, California’s water sage:

[O]ur historic population and economic growth—and the social and individual choices we have made—explain the water and environmental problems we face today. Unless we acknowledge that water supplies are limited, and act to temper our water use, we will limp toward the next drought, and act surprised when it happens. Matching human expectations to the limits of nature is essential, but generally not politically popular.

The clash here is between public expectation and hydrologic reality:

Most policy-makers, even lesser ones like me, want to find popular solutions to com- plicated problems. That’s why we spend so much time talking about “win–win” solutions; the dream world where everyone gets whatever they want, and there is no need for taxes or fees to pay for the result! Sure, this is completely unrealistic. We know that.

However, we also know that public expectations— unrealistic or not—permit or block good policy changes.