Could It Happen Here?

Dr. Brian Green, Assistant Director of Campus Ethics, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; Assistant Director of Engineering, Santa Clara University
Jim Fiedler, Chief Operating Officer of Water Utility, Santa Clara Valley Water District
Barbara Marshman, Editorial Page Editor, San Jose Mercury News—Moderator

In Parzybok’s eco-fiction novel Sherwood Nation, he speculates about what an American city would be like if an extended drought limited water rations to one gallon of water per person a day. Hoarding, riots, neighborhoods filled with abandoned homes and businesses, fires left to burn themselves out, power outages—residents quickly devolve into survival mode of doing whatever they think is necessary to stay alive.

How far-fetched is this disturbing “what if” story? Would the infrastructure, water policies and human kindness of Silicon Valley be up to the challenge of losing unlimited access to the precious resource we take for granted: water?