Monday, May 11, 2015

Putting a Lid on California's Drought

In A Nutshell



If you aren’t in tune with California’s ongoing drought you are either (a) steadfastly oblivious to the news or (b) you have zero regard for the welfare of California.

I fall into both (a) and (b) so imagine my surprise when, after clicking on a picture of a woman in a bikini (because the caption said I might get rich if I did) I was presented with the following headline:


My shock, as you can well imagine, reverberated on several levels of perception.

My first thought as a writer was “Shouldn’t every word in a headline be capitalized?”

My next thought was something like “God this instant coffee tastes like crap.”

Then after one final fleeting thought of my days as a rich man in a bikini I decided that Starbucks must be one fine organization. ‘Ethos’ water? Sounds like they’ve really got their moral elements all in a row, contributing to the health of all their non-coffee-drinking customers by way of a mass manufacturing of plastic bottles.



The Ethos of the Bottled Water Biz (all main words capitalized)


Image: NYTimes / Little Man on Wrist: No Idea
I guess the name Ethos is supposed to point to the fact that a cool nickel from the sale of each $2 bottle of CALIFORNIA water is donated “to a fund that supports water and sanitation programs in coffee-growing countries such as Tanzania, Indonesia and Colombia.”

In other words, they take 5 cents from the sale of each bottle of CALIFORNIA water and use that to filter the water they take from people living in Tanzania, Indonesia and Colombia for use in their coffee-growing endeavors. But wait, Matt Damon says they also sponsor clean water systems and hygiene education for people, mainly children, in these same areas and who am I to argue with Jason Bourne? I mean, the guy is fricking amazing.

Recently, however, Starbucks seems to have taken a good hard look in their froth-covered mirror and decided they didn’t want to risk losing their froth-covered mirrors.

Starbucks wants to "support the people of the state of California as they face this unprecedented drought," lies John Kelly, Starbucks' senior vice president of Global Responsibility and Public Policy.

Johnny Boy, some people do watch the news, remember? And for the rest of us there’s Google. Think no one read this article? (We use ‘private spring source that is not used for municipal water for any communities,’ contends Starbuckey.)

Or this one? (You capture and pull it out before it ever makes it downstream’ says Department of Water Resources’ Mary “Bullshit Walks” Scruggs.)

Or this one? (“Due to a challenging economy and changes in Ethos Water distribution, Starbucks must extend the timeline to reach our $10 million contribution goal (to the water projects we are totally committed to) beyond 2010,” Starbucks’ Customer Care commented, not adding that Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbuck’s, would make $22 million in 2010.)

"Yeah yeah, we'll get them their precious water...Now tell me again how my $22 million breaks down?"
But let’s congratulate Seattle Brew and their cadre of marketing gurus for their to-date contributions of over $12 million to people who don’t make in a year what Americans will pay for a plastic cup of ice drizzled with milk and a little coffee topped with a film of whipped cream and a bit of caramel sauce in a cool grid-like pattern. Good work folks. Glad we could help.

And I’m glad a few people out there decided to bring Starbuck’s antics to light, for the edification of anyone who pays attention to the news and/or cares about California. (I now fall into both categories…once in a while.)

Because if none of this had made the news you can bet Johnny Boy up there would have never uttered those words.

 
Another tidbit I picked up from skimming the news tonight after my wife went to bed early yet again:

There are 108 bottled water companies operating in California which, by its own admission has close to 500 breweries. I appplaud California for complaining to the proper beverage industry.

Wikipedia tells us the state’s breweries employ over 7,000 people. I have an aversion to quoting Wiki-people but that number lends great segue as the number of people also employed by Nestle, who has made their own waves in the news recently.


In the late 1800s a couple of enterprising businessmen decided to make a lake in the San Bernadino Mountains east of Los Angeles. The forest was cleared, dams were built, and the creeks, streams, rainfall and snowmelt from the surrounding mountains began to fill up Little Bear Valley, creating Lake Arrowhead.

The lake is best known today as a vacation destination, but the water in it remains privately owned, a legacy of the Arrowhead Reservoir Company's original plan for the 48,000 acre-feet of water; to sell it to towns in the arid valleys below.


One of a paltry few billion / JackFischerGallery.com

Dam up the water so it doesn’t flow into the valley, then sell that water to the people in the valley.
 
But Nestle says it’s all kosher.

Go ahead. Decide for yourself. Just don’t do it over a dish of almonds.