David Zetland really cares about water policy, and he wants you to think better about it:
I confess that I’m not a fan of the “educate the general public” model of water policy problem solving, which might seem odd given my profession as a journalist. That’s an “educate the general public” job, right? But my years in the business have convinced me that what we really need is a set of policies that are robust to the fact that the general public mostly won’t be educated about most things. There are too many things. Way too many things. And they’re all hard.
But I still think that what David’s doing here is worth trying. Because a corollary of my belief is that the right subset of the “general public” can be sufficient to make some headway on hard problems. And to move in that direction, we need to experiment, a lot, in different ways to get through to people.
So, a water calendar? Hmm, that just might help.
I totally agree with what you’re saying, as (1) most “education” campaigns are worthless* and (2) the real decisions are made by people who (a) may not listen to the public or (b) know what to do. I am hoping that this project, by helping the motivated folks learn more, will bring more and better opinions to the debates out there.
* I call it the “80/20 rule” that 80 percent don’t pay attention but 20 percent do (the percentages are made up, but proportionate). This is aimed at the 20 percent. Better policies (e.g., raise prices!) will get to the 80 percent.
I like your 80/20 rule. I think the numbers slide based on the subject, but I’ve realized my journalism is aimed at the “20” part too.
I like the 80/20 rule, too, but find some issues (I dunno, K-12 education springs to mind) involve a level of passion unlike others. For instance, if everyone treated the water issue like their own children were involved, (yes, I know, they actually ARE involved, but that’s far too forward-thinking for humans at our level of evolution) they would be emotionally invested and have passionate feelings, even if they personally were really in the 80% who couldn’t handle the wonkiness. So, just about everyone “cares,” but not enough to fully investigate the issues. Or even semi-fully investigate them.
What I’m saying, of course, is that I wish my own “issue” had far less uneducated passion and far more dispassionate, yet educated, discourse. That’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Lucky water issue bastards…