译者: onicap 原作者:By Matthew Kahn, Guest blogger / February 11, 2012
The "gross out" factor has long prohibited efforts to take dirty water and transform it into drinkable water. That resistance may abate if water prices rise. 


In this file photo Courtney Lombardo drinks a glass of tap water at Charlie's Chili restaurant in Newport Beach, Calif. Newport Beach lies in Orange County, a district that has created the Groundwater Replenishment System, a $480 million dollar water treatment system that converts sewage water into drinking water. Recurring droughts, population growth and a decline in imported water supplies have overwhelmed local water supply.


        上图中,在位于加州纽波特比奇市(Newport Beach, Calif)的一家名为Charlie's Chili的餐馆内,一名叫做考特尼·朗巴多(Courtney Lombardo)的女子正在饮用一杯自来水。纽波特比奇市坐落在北卡罗莱纳州奥兰治县,该地区斥资4.8亿美元建造了一个“地下水补给系统”(Groundwater Replenishment System),该系统可以将污水转化为可饮用水。旱灾频发、人口增长以及从外地引进的水量的减少等情况,使得当地供水压力巨大难以承受。

Mary Knox Merrill/The Christian Science Monitor/File


Do you trust the engineers to develop new solutions for addressing society's challenges?  UCLAhas an excellent engineering school and thousands of young, sober students attend the engineering classes taking notes and hopefully thinking.  Can these young people figure out how to take "dirty water" (think of your toliet after you use it) and transform it into drinkable water?  


If the answer is yes, and if the public believes that the answer is yes then we have another strategy for adapting to climate change.  Such recycled water offers us another way to increase our supply of scarce resources.  In Climatopolis, I talk at length about how human ingenuity will substitute for those resources that Mother Nature will be less generous with supplying in our hotter future.  I believe in directed technological change.  We foresee a challenge, we see the benefits of coming up with a solution for the challenge and we hold a competition. If 100 entrants submit a new idea, the best idea in the set will emerge and it will be quite good and it will broadly diffuse and the idea's creator will become rich.  Good dynamic incentives!

        如果答案是“是”的话,并且公众也相信这一点的话,那么我们就有了另一个适应气候变化的策略。这种水的循环利用为我们提供了另一个增加稀有资源供给的途径。在《Climatopolis》(即作者Matthew E. Kahn的一本著作——译者注)一书中,我详细地谈到人类的创造性将如何来给那些未来越来越紧缺的资源寻求替代品。我相信技术革新的作用。我们预见一项挑战,我们也看到了寻找到这项挑战的解决办法后所能带来的利益,那么一项我们既是举办者也是参与者的竞赛就开始了。如果100位参赛者都提出了新的想法,那么在这一集合中将会产生最优解,这个最优解势必会是相当出色的想法,并将被广泛传播,这一想法的创造者也将会随之获益而变得富有。这是多么好的动态激励啊!

In the case of "toliet to the tap", there has been resistance to this approach before but now the NY Times reports that this gross out is easing.  Why? Sociologists should work on this.  If water prices rise, this would encourage water consumers to give the engineers the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps the experience of nations such as Singapore has taught the rest of us that such solutions can be effective. In this case, Singapore is a useful "green guinea pig". 

        就水的“变废为宝”(“toilet to the tap”)这一想法而言,之前是存在一些抵制的。但是据纽约时报(NY Times)报道,现在这种心理上的“难以接受”正在减弱。至于原因,或许应该是社会学家的研究内容。如果水价不断上涨,那么人们可能会不得不支持工程师们的这一想法。可能一些国家——比如新加坡——在这方面的经验会让我们知道,化污水为可饮用水这招是行得通的。从这个角度讲,新加坡真可谓是一只践行此方法的“实验室小白鼠”呀。

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