by Melissa Melton
(Originally published at The Daily Sheeple)
Amid California’s record drought, towns up and down the state are rolling out smartphone apps that enable people to snap pictures of neighbors and businesses who are violating water restriction rules and “play water cop”:
The apps put more boots on the ground to spot waste and leaks that might go unnoticed, officials say. They say the high-tech citizen reporting programs are intended to encourage water conservation, and not to be used as evidence to fine offenders.
But at least one private company is taking things a step further. Creators of Vizsafe, a neighborhood watch app, have added a feature allowing users to map photos of water wasters — a practice dubbed “drought shaming” on Twitter and Instagram.
Here are a few examples:
The Tweets extend to YouTube, where some users like “Western Water Luv” are apparently on a mission, putting up multiple videos of people’s “water waste” using their address in the video title.
In this particular video, the address in the video doesn’t match the one added to the title:
People in some urban areas in California now face $500 a day fines for “wasting” water outdoors, so the citizen spies are being called in.
While the majority of these videos and Tweets pit neighbor against neighbor, I have yet to see videos or Tweets against the mega corporate giants like Nestlé who are sucking millions upon millions of gallons of water off city supplies throughout California for private profits.
So what if little old lady Simpson down the street leaves on her sprinkler for an extra ten minutes in the middle of a Tuesday night?
It matters very little when you have corporate giant Nestlé sucking some 80 million gallons of water a year off Sacramento, for just one example, only to turn around and bottle it for pennies on the dollar.
Recalling ‘Chinatown’: Who Are The Real ‘Water Wasters’?
It’s not population growth — or the average lawn sprinkler — driving California’s water usage. It’s mega corporations. Eighty percent of water usage in California can be attributed to agriculture, and for the most part, it’s Big Agra, not some guy growing a small garden in his backyard.
No one points fingers at how wide scale industrial mega-farming practices throughout the state have eroded soils to the point where they can’t and don’t hold water properly, causing more to be used. Where’s someone taking a selfie to drought shame one of California’s environmental disasters otherwise known as a Confined Animal Feed Operation (CAFO)? There’s only hundreds to choose from.
Fun fact. Did you know the 1.7 million dairy cows, 563,000 beef cattle, 131,000 hogs, 49.6 million broiler chickens, and 19.7 million egg-laying hens on factory farms in California produce as much untreated manure as 456 million people? (source) That’s way more than the entire U.S. population, and I’m guessing that uses a whole lot of water.
While there’s some truth to the idea that cities compete with farmlands for water, the absolute refusal of megafarms to implement any kind of wholistic practices that are even remotely sustainable (a hijacked word, but the one that works best here), the whole system is gamed for a Chinatown-like scam — where the population is subjected to restrictions, fines, and peak pricing models that allow corporate billionaires to make even more profits off the drought while the average person is shaking in their boots about flushing their toilet more than twice a day.
Scientists say that even if the drought were to last 200 years, in theory, cities can’t “run out of water,” even in place like California. They can only run out of cheap water. Farmers with senior water rights will start making bank off their sources, food prices will surely rise, desalination plants will be built (for billions) and prices will go up. Someone is set to make a lot of money off the drought.
Can anyone say Wall Street and water derivatives?
And while things like these apps might start out with some shred of a good intention (you know, that stuff the road to Hell is paved with), it never ends well. So how far down the Orwellian water slide is this thing set to go?
Matthew Kahn, a professor of economics at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, said the mere existence of the apps could increase conservation.
“While we all fear Orwell’s Big Brother,” he said, “we all try harder when we are being watched, even if that is a little creepy. You may need these social apps to motivate these behavioral changes.” [emphasis added] (source)
California is about to turn into a bunch of people watching and tattling on each other over dubious lawn sprinkler usage while the corporations at the top continue to rape and pillage and ultimately nothing changes except the burden on the average citizen. Same as usual, only now as an individual you won’t be able to buy a garden hose from the local hardware store without getting gawked at by everyone in the checkout lane like you’re a sexual predator.
And if they can turn the average person against each other (while completely ignoring our corporate overloads’ misdeeds which actually do the most harm) over water, there’s nothing stopping them from doing it for similar issues under the guise of “emergency conditions.” Imagine the kind of snitch society we’re going to be living in when this technology really gets going everywhere.
Already, some police departments are using similar “next gen” technology for their 9-1-1 calls.
It’ll be the “See Something Say Something” society of Homeland Security former head Big Sis Napolitano’s wet dream. Perhaps that’s why she moved to California when she left DHS.
Did you ever see that episode of Twilight Zone where all the neighbors turn on each other? I believe it was called, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” It begins with a mysterious light flashing over a small neighborhood which causes the power to go out. Within the span of a night, all the residents begin freaking out and turning on each other over who is to blame for what, and one guy ends up shot dead. The whole neighborhood devolves into utter chaos. In the end, you find out it was aliens who cut the power because they knew they could set people against each other, allowing the inhabitants of Earth to conquer themselves without the aliens actually having to do all that much.
This water app reminds me so much of that episode, it is actually scary.