In sociology, a tipping point or angle of repose is the event of a previously rare phenomenon becoming rapidly and dramatically more common. The phrase was coined in its sociological use by Morton Grodzins, by analogy with the fact in physics that adding a small amount of weight to a balanced object can cause it to suddenly and completely topple.
Here’s a report about the proposed tipping point study of dry-ups in the Arkansas Valley, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
At the roundtable meeting, economists Richard Gardner and George Oamek stressed they are doing preliminary work, and could not readily answer questions about deeper economic impacts. Roundtable members wanted to know if the study would look at the relative wealth of the people who remain in an area, and whether they would be newly affluent sellers of water or welfare recipients. The economists said that could vary by community, and they were unwilling to draw a broad conclusion.
Turns out, the answers — for Crowley County, at least — were already detailed in a background paper for the study.
Gardner, Oamek, David Kracman and Ken Weber prepared a community economic profile for Crowley County that weighs the gains and losses to the county, factoring in the development of prisons to replace the agricultural jobs lost.
The result is a distressing template for other communities, showing that population growth has come only in the form of prison inmates, that new jobs went to people in other counties and that poverty is increasing.
“Crowley County is a testament to the negative externalities that communities bear when large amounts of water rights are sold out of the region,” the report states. “The loss of an important basic industry can ripple through Main Street and take down communities.”
More Arkansas Basin coverage here.