The Water Habit

There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown and those who do not see.” – Leonardo Da Vinci.

Andy was born with a peculiar habit. Whenever he turned on any faucet or shower head in his home, he never turned it off. As a result, fresh water flowed through the drains in his home 365 days a year and his home water bills were enormous as 6,000 gallons a day spilled into the sewer. But Andy was well-to-do and willingly paid those huge water bills.

Andy’s sister, Betty, also acquired the same peculiar habit but only with respect to shower heads. But she couldn’t afford to pay the huge water bills and therefore petitioned for a special volume discount from the water company to cut her water bill by an order of magnitude. The water company granted that discount so that Betty could afford that 3,000 gallon a day water habit.

The third sibling, Charlie, was mercifully free of this habit, but Charlie had a leaky faucet that dripped constantly. He was draining 400 gallons of fresh water a day into the sewer.

The three siblings were all staunch environmentalists.

Implausible, you say?

Andy’s peculiar habit is his family’s daily consumption of grass-fed meats, but he agitates vigorously for a carbon tax and is willing to pay the true price of meat (around $200 per hamburger). However, he just cannot imagine going without meat on a daily basis.

Betty and her family, on the other hand, are happy with McDonald’s hamburgers made from factory-farmed meats and would like the price of a Big Mac to stay precisely where it is.

Charlie and his family are on a plant-based vegan diet.

This is why when environmental activists don’t talk about food consumption, but leaflet people about low-flow shower heads that save 5 gallons of water per person per day, they are missing the big picture and are doing the public a great disservice. Food is the big elephant in the room that overwhelms all other daily activities in our industrial culture.

The top one-third of humanity is responsible for 91% of all the world resource consumption including the consumption of almost all animal foods (the bottom two-thirds of humanity are primarily vegan already), and every one of us in that top one-third has the agency to either continue with the destruction of the planet or voluntarily reverse that destruction and help preserve life on Earth.

And that is so empowering!

But it is up to us, environmental activists, to let the public know that they have such tremendous power in their consumer choices. The popular mass media doesn’t have the guts to do it.

Evolving Towards Utopia
Score One for Science
Sailesh Rao
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