~ Posted by Robert Butler, April 13th 2012

The Economist had a leader last week on "panflation" or the devaluation of everything. There are now six- and seven-star luxury hotels. Over the last 25 years the proportion of A-level students getting A grades has risen from 9% to 27%. The ticket inspector has his job title upgraded to Chief Revenue Protection Officer. The footballer gives 110%.

The current water shortage in England is another example. There are posters on the sides of double-decker buses warning Londoners that "WE ARE IN DROUGHT". But we aren't really. If we were a little smarter, we wouldn't even be short of water. We just manage the water that we have very badly.

A report on BBC Radio 4 last night said that England and Wales loses 3.3 billion litres of water a day through leakage. That's enough water (we were told) to fill Wembley stadium three times every day. Or enough water to fill 1,320 Olympic-size swimming pools every day.

Even though Londoners are experiencing the lowest level of rainfall since 1976, and even though we waste 3.3 billion litres a day, someone from the Environment Agency could still say, "This drought has been dealt with very well. No-one has gone without water."

One of those droughts, then, where there's water to waste.

Robert Butler is online editor of Intelligent Life