Michael Campana struck a heavy blow against the use of wrong or misleading water units in his April 9 blog post, “Crap Detecting 101.” He explained how apparently impressive water comparisons can dissolve(?) into insignificance when looked at carefully. His advice: “Choose your units carefully, and be cognizant of the fact that the units you choose may be ‘loaded’ and subject to misinterpretation. Think of the spatial scale.”
So far, so good, but even this wise counsel does not go far enough. As David Zetland noted, using Standard Units would help avoid much of the confusion. Yes! Therefore, under pain of ridicule, all future water numbers must be expressed in Standard Units and in scientific notation. The only acceptable units for volume will be liters. The only acceptable units for flow will be liters per day. The only acceptable units for cost will be dollars per thousand liters. The exponent must always be displayed in red to draw attention to relative magnitudes. Like this:
The average volume of Lake Okeechobee is 5.2E12 liters. (Fie with cubic miles, acre-feet, cubic yards, cubic feet, Olympic swimming pools, Great Lakes, Grand Canyons, icebergs, water bottles, gallons, quarts, cups, pints, etc., etc.)
The average flow of Volusia Blue Spring is 3.84E8 liters per day. (Fie again to cubic feet per second, million gallons per year, Mississippi River flows, Amazon River flows, football stadium volumes per day, shot glasses, etc., etc.)
The fee for water withdrawals in Florida is 0.0E0 dollars per thousand liters. (Or is that zero, zero, zero?) (Not dollars per gallon, or thousand gallons, or CCF (thousand cubic feet), or acre-feet, or bottle, etc., etc.)
I see a day in the near future when all water comparisons begin by asking, “What is the Red Number?” Confusion will be defeated. You all are welcome.