All this death and stoning, what does it matter? After twenty years of negotiations, the city of Los Angeles agreed to curtail its water use. Today, although the population has grown by over thirty percent, water usage in LA has remained at the same level as in the nineteen-seventies. Somebody believed in conservation, and mandated the change of a city's water habits. Somewhere, somebody else is fighting for another lake. But most are already too late. The Salton Sea, the dried up Sierra Nevada lakes - gone or almost there. Most, like the Aral Sea, the Black Sea, Lake Tanganyika or the Salt Lakes of Utah, don't have California's dual sense of destruction and protection - they don't have conservation's best friend - wealth and leisure.
All lakes share a role in a system, and lakes are among the first to fall to human abuse. But the answer to protecting lakes may just fall in the hands of environmentalism's alleged enemy - the economy. Conservation saved Mono Lake, but an economy that understands the nature of the ecological processes realizes that the two are one in the same. That a dying sea will end local irrigation, advance desertification, and expand the decline of resources. An economist's nightmare.