Sunday, February 17, 2008

The bottled water myth

Water. It is the mainstay of human existence and essential for life. Wouldn't think it would generate environmental controversy, as all should recognize water as an environmental good. By that I don't mean I don't recognize that issues of water supply and demand and management are non-controversial (I spend a lot of time in my career as an academic and consultant working on water management) -- but I never would have expected water to be used as an icon for environmental morality.

Sadly, not even water is exempt from eco-ideology. Just this week a good friend sent me an email missive reporting on how bottled water supposedly causes cancer. Now as principal water supplier for my girls basketball teams, I would be concerned, except that it is a myth. But as usual, there are enough idiots in politics to seize on any issue and attempt to translate it into environmental dogma.

Bottled water may be expensive. It may be unnecessary. It may be a consumer fad. I can handle discussion on any of these themes. But to cast bottled water as an agent of destruction, to invoke gender politics and issues of health safety is environmental moralism at its most exploitative. It also is emblematic of how ecomyths are created, propagated and translated into policy dogma.

All in the name of someone's agenda for the "greater good".

But no government would ever use an ecomyth as a basis for societal control, would they?