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Articles by Sr. Staff Writer Nathanael Johnson

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Dear Umbra,

I live in the Sonoran Desert and we are in the 21st year of a drought. Overall my water and carbon footprint are small…. except for that 17,000-gallon pool that came with the house. For many years, we used the pool extensively in summer. Now, just a handful of times. So I am contemplating having the pool removed. The problem is that the cost is quite high: Probably $10,000 for removal, plus $5,000 for landscaping. My annual maintenance “cost” for the pool, meanwhile, is usually at most $500. I want to be a good steward of our natural resources, and yet $15k is… a lot of money. What do you think I should do?

— Price Optimized Overflow Limiter

Dear POOL,

I’ve unearthed some interesting technical details about digging up pools, but before I fill you in on those we should step back and figure out what you are really interested in learning here. Are you interested in the wide open question of how best to spend your money to help the world writ large? Or are you narrowly focused on minimizing your own carbon emissions and water use?

The latter is what philosophers call the “personal v... Read more

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