Monday, April 7, 2014

Urban Water and the Era of No-Longer Possible

By Professor Jeffery Atik

This review of Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World's Most Vital Resource originally appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

There are two currents flowing through the contemporary political imagination that limit us. The first is the notion of sustainability, which teaches us that what we have had in the past and what we may still desire can no longer be provided. Sustainability, like its reflection, unsustainability, is a child of environmentalism, built on an unflinching examination of what the planet might bear. The second stems from our doubts about the State. In its most virulent form, it appears as Tea Partyism: everything the State practices is incompetence or theft, or both. The State is a villain -- to be attacked and starved -- and if we forgo traditional state services, we will be better for it. The result is a growing paucity of public goods.

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