On July 02, 2014 at 07:19PM, Tom at Watery Foundation published the following article:
If Florida has the most “special” water resources in the United States, why should we protect and enhance them? Is it to provide water supplies for more development? Is it because there are jobs associated with the outdoor recreation industry? Is it because polluted drinking water is nasty?
Those are all pretty good arguments but can quickly swing the other way. If erasing a wetland would promote economic development, then to hell with the wetland. If there are some jobs related to fishing, there may be even more in condos. If it costs a dollar per thousand gallons to clean up drinking water, it might cost two dollars to prevent the pollution in the first place. Here’s the problem: economic arguments intended to bolster the case for sustaining water resources can in fact favor degrading those same waters.
There must be an alternative. According to Florida writer and biologist Archie Carr, the most important reasons to care about Florida water bodies are not economic: “the hard saving has got to be done for the sake of abstract values.” (A Naturalist in Florida, p. 233.) British writer and environmentalist George Monbiot recently made a similar point about underlying justifications:
This is a form of lying – to ourselves and other people. I don’t know anyone who became an environmentalist because she or he was worried about ecological impacts on their bank balance. Almost everyone I know in this field is motivated by something completely different: the love and wonder and enchantment that nature inspires. Yet, perhaps because we fear we will not be taken seriously, we scarcely mention them. We hide our passions behind columns of figures, and if sometimes we come across as insincere there’s a reason for it. Sure, we need the numbers and the rigour and the science, but we should stop pretending that these came first.
Many people care deeply about this state’s magnificent water resources. It isn’t because another dollar can be squeezed out of using them.