Opinion: Drought Shamers Need to STFU for a Second

Nowadays you can not go on social media without immediately seeing some self-righteous “drought shamer” telling everyone how much better they are at saving water then the rest of society (most likely posted right before they took a 45-minute-long shower)

Here’s the thing. Those people need to shut the fuck up for a second so they can focus on the real problem. Stop complaining about the Smith’s broken sprinkler or Mike doing the Ice Bucket Challenge or your favorite lunch place serving you a glass of water.  Yes, those are minor issues that should be addressed, but if you really want to do something about the drought, then focus your attention on something that is really sucking up the water: golf courses.

A recent article from Vice has some startling numbers:

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “[T]he average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day.” The average golf course uses 312,000 gallons of water, according to Audobon International, meaning each one uses as much water as 780 families of four. In Palm Springs—immediately adjacent to a place called Palm Desert—NPR reported that each of the city’s 57 courses use about a million gallons a day, or about the same as 2,500 families of four

So why is no one saying or doing anything about the water-sucking golf courses?

“Golf courses are a huge problem,” said Adam Keats of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group. And part of that huge problem is the people who play it. “They’re a wealthy elite that have no connection to want or lack,” Keats, head of the center’s California Water Law Project, told me over the phone. “Golfers live in a world of excess.”

Even amid a record drought, the affluent expect their world to persist as it always did. Cutting back is for the poor, just as “austerity” meant slashing social programs, not CEO salaries. But compared to me, Keats is a moderate: he thinks California can keep its golf courses, but only if they start looking like they are actually in California.

“It’s irresponsible for golf courses to be as green as they are in California,” said Keats. Instead of dark green fairways, “we could have California brownways, with rock and with dirt and with scrub—the kind of vegetation that naturally grows here. We’re not in Scotland. Why are we pretending that we are?”

Which is an excellent point.  Why are people so intent on tweeting pictures of broken residential sprinklers and not the 100’s of working sprinklers at a single golf course?  Why do I get a rude stare if I wash my car, but no one is doing shit about the lush green fairways that blanket The Coachella Valley?  Oh wait, I am sorry, they can only water between 5pm and 10am which still does not address the actual problem.

Someone calculated that The Ice Bucket Challenge has used 6 millions gallons of water nation-wide since it began, or about what one Palm Springs golf course will use in a little more than half a month.  But even still, If The Smith family posts a bucket challenge video on their front yard – a front yard that now has desert landscaping which replaced their lawn, then why are they the one’s getting shit from their “friends” on Facebook while almost no one is calling out the retirees playing 36 holes a day?

I guess all I am saying is this, we are all in this together.  And yes, we can all do a better job of conserving water.  But perhaps, the next time you want to drought shame someone on Facebook for dumping a gallon of ice water on their head to support a great charity, think for a minute about who is really sucking Palm Springs and the rest of California dry.