Sunday, November 6, 2011

#310 / Living Within Our Limits #3

The image in today's posting comes from a blog entry written by Sebastian Blanco, who was apparently prompted to write it after reading a Wendell Berry essay during Blanco's trip to Las Vegas.

In reflecting upon the irony of reading Wendell Berry in Las Vegas, Blanco well describes the feeling I had about the place when I visited Las Vegas some time ago:

It was odd to read an essay about learning to live within our limits in a city that tries to make you forget that there is any such thing. Whether we're talking about food, money, drinks, sex, fun or whatever else you want, Las Vegas is where limits go to die.
Berry's essay is called (as the graphic says) "Faustian Economics: Hell hath no limits." That essay is also something worth reading, and I particularly like the definition of Hell as "having no limits."

It has been my contention, in my postings on Living Within Our Limits, #1 and #2, that we need to create the world we inhabit by limiting our expansive tendencies. On this, I am following Wendell Berry's lead, and am proud to do so.

I started thinking again about the "living within our limits" theme after attending a "study session" held by the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday evening, November 1st. The Council focused on water supply planning, and the City staff was geared up with compelling facts and figures to say that the City needs to build a costly and environmentally damaging desalination plant, so that our water use wouldn't be excessively limited in multiple drought years.

The Desal Alternatives group, and specifically Rick Longinotti, who spoke for the group, made a compelling and fact-based presentation that outlined ways that we could effectively live within the limits of our current water resources, without the need to turn sea water into fresh water.

Not mentioned, really, was what seems to be the actual reason that the "living within our limits" approach has gained so little traction with the City Council. The City has promised the University of California that it will pursue the construction of a desalination plant, in multiple (unlimited) phases, which will provide water for future growth.

It's the commitment to growth (beyond the limits of our current resources) that is driving the desalination project.

Hell hath no limits.

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