You couldn’t sell a fictional story where people are this nutty.
Go see. The abominable Steve Milloy — a guy so wacky he cannot be parodied (take that, Poe!) — calls water conservation “Nazi.” He complains about a provision in the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Act that encourages innovation in water conservation devices.
Milloy flouts Godwin’s Law right off the bat. You can’t make this stuff up.
And — may God save us from these people — Milloy has followers. Check out the graphic here, with Obama portrayed as a marching Brownshirt. It’s almost too stupid to be racist, but it’s certainly incendiary. He even admits he thinks saving water is a good idea, and he’d like to have one of the devices complained about. (This guy knows he’s in error — he censors posts that question any part of his rant.) See the ugly meme expand, here.
Water conservation equals flag-waving in America, and has done so for a at least a hundred years. Those of us who grew up in the Intermountain West may be a little more attuned to the drive — Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, Flaming Gorge Dam, the Central Arizona Project, the Central Utah Project, the Colorado River aqueduct that carries water to Los Angeles, it’s impossible to live in the West and not be conscious of water’s value, its precious qualities.
Today, the many benefits of controlling water in this way are evident in the extensive development that has taken place throughout the West over the past 100 years. Huge cities have been created and millions of people live, work, and recreate in this desert region. But, as the West continues to grow, we must face the problem of continually increasing demands on a finite supply of water. This includes human population needs and the needs of the environment.
But one doesn’t need to be from the cold northern desert of southern Idaho to figure out that saving water is a good idea.
Most homeowners would like to save money. Americans spend between $600 and $1600 for washing machines that cut water usage by up to 75% (we just replaced our two-decades-old Maytag with a water conserving front-loader). Go to the appliance stores and listen to the conversations. People who could better afford the $200 models discuss how they will cut costs elsewhere to get the water saving versions — because their water bills are so high.
Much of of the rest of America works to conserve water out of necessity. Texas cities have mandatory water conservation laws, like Temple, Richwood, Austin and Dallas. Texas rural areas fight to save water, too. California cities demonstrate that water conservation works, saving investments in ever-grander and more environmentally-damaging water importation schemes, and allowing for population growth where water shortages would otherwise prohibit new homes. Water conservation is a big deal across the nation: In Raleigh, North Carolina; in Seminole County, Florida; in Nebraska; in the State of Maryland. An April drive across Wisconsin a few years ago convinced me it is the most waterlogged state in the nation, Louisiana notwithstanding — but even in Wisconsin, wise people work to conserve water for agriculture, one of the state’s leading industries and employers.
What’s the next step up from Godwin’s Law? These guys like Milloy and his camp followers can only get crazier, benignly, if they head to the meadow and graze with the cattle. Crazier non-benignly? Let’s not go there.
But let us address the odious comparison to Nazis directly. In World War II, when freedom was on the line, there was a drive to conserve resources in America. Americans grew their own vegetables in Victory Gardens.
Americans collected scrap metal, iron, copper and aluminum, to be made into war machines to save the world. Americans conserved rubber and gasoline by restricting automobile use. There was the famous poster, “When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler.” Conservation was understood to be a patriotic response to the challenges the nation faced.
Bill Maher updated the poster with his 2005 book, When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden. Maher urged civic actions like those that helped the U.S. during World War II, including conservation of gasoline and other resources. Maher understands that wise use of resources is something a people should strive for, especially when in competition with other nations, either in a hot war or in trade or influence. Conservation remains a patriotic behavior, and opposing conservation remains a call to support the enemies of America, in war, in trade, in policies.
It’s not just a coincidence that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (in conjunction with the U.S. EPA for the past several years) learn water conservation as integral parts of their programs, chartered by Congress, to promote civic leadership in America’s youth. Those groups charged with teaching actual patriotism understand conservation to be a high duty, a high calling, something that all patriots do.
So, let’s face it. If you crap on a 6-gallon flushing toilet, you crap with Bin Laden. When you shower with a non-flow restricting shower head, you shower with Bin Laden.
Yes, it sounds creepy. It is.
You hope Milloy and the other Neobrownshirts* have parents or other family to pull them back from the brink, but then you see Congress.
* Yeah, the Nazis were the Brownshirts, in Germany. In Italy the fascists wore black shirts. Brown is generally the opposite of green, in political and business parlance — for example, development of a previously undeveloped piece of property is “greenfield development,” while redevelopment of a previously-developed parcel is “brownfield development.” Since Milloy is opposed to anything “green,” I think it only fair that his shirt color match his politics. It’s his choice, after all.