self-limitation

Here in McLennan County we’re experiencing a heat wave and a drought. Not altogether uncommon in Texas; and it will become increasingly common. We’re all being asked to reduce our water use, especially lawn irrigation, and to reduce our energy consumption in the peak afternoon hours. 

In my house, we’re doing it. (In fact, our standard thermostat settings and water usage would probably strike some of our neighbors as self-punitive.) But I wonder how many residents of the county will comply? I’d put the over/under at 3%. 

Americans in general are not good at self-limitation; and asking people to limit themselves is pretty much the only tool government has in these matters. This is the way it’s always been: you have electricity and water or you don’t. And when people have ongoing access to a resource they seem, almost inevitably, to think of that resource as infinite. 

If there’s a way to make sure that people who absolutely need electricity still get it, I’d be fine with scheduled brownouts — in fact, I think that would be good policy in times when the grid is stressed. I’m not sure what the equivalent would be for the water system; but we need something, something that will conserve resources for a people who won’t voluntarily restrain their consumption.