I am entirely fascinated by the current drought facing California. With UN Reports predicting extreme water shortages and wars to be fought over water rights in the future, the current drama facing California seems immensely present yet difficult to believe. Of course, when I began researching water conflicts around the world approximately two years ago when working at a non-profit organization, I never would have imagined that the place where I was living would soon face its own sort of water conflict.
A 25% restriction in water usage – first time any sort of measure is imposed in the history of the state of California. I am both baffled and curious to see how this scenario unfolds. I suppose like many people I feel somewhat powerless in the face of drought. I know that farmers and golf courses use significantly more water than I do, so how can I make a difference? Even in the face of drought, I don’t know if I could stop showering everyday or wash my clothes less frequently. Maybe in the near future this will become an obligation? This same sense of powerlessness is what keeps people from motivating to change themselves, their behaviors, and their habits.
However, I continue to believe that the problem is not the individual user but one of infrastructure. If we create a system and infrastructure geared towards waste, how can we then slap people’s hands and say – stop that! It is like telling people to drive less and save gas while we live in cities built (not by us) for cars. This extension of the individualistic mindset, in general, in activism also baffles me. Systematic change is more difficult, and focusing on individual efforts will keep blinding us all to the real changes that should be made at a collective level.