Friday, September 19, 2014

Not a drop to drink without change

With historical weather-related incidents becoming more frequent, it is more and more difficult to pretend that there is not a growing crisis of climate. Perhaps the most dire is the crisis of water.  
    Climate change deniers dismiss worries about drought. Water conservation seems like just one more thing to do, much ado about nothing. Even rational people become irritated that more has to be done when conserving has become so much more common. Americans just want grass lawns and non-native landscaping plants, no matter how arid the environment in which they live.
    The Washington Post reports that across California’s vital agricultural belt, nervousness over the state’s epic drought has given way to alarm. Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up. Aquifers are being pumped away at rates scientists say are unsustainable. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declares that more than half of California is now experiencing “exceptional” drought, the most severe category. More than 80 percent of the state is currently seeing one of the two most intense levels of drought.
    California is not the only state suffering. Southwest Texas and the northern Rockies are in severe drought. In Idaho, Blaine County and Lincoln County are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions due to below-normal snowpack and precipitation levels in the Little Wood and Big Wood River drainages.
    The consequences of drought reach beyond fried landscapes and higher water bills. California produces a third of the country’s beef cattle and half of its fruits, vegetables and winter wheat. Drought has caused the prices for food to soar in the past year, affecting every U.S. household.     Water conservation will demand mindset changes. Everything and anything cannot be watered. Although green lawns and extensive plantings look great, they may be possible only with consequences that are unsustainable.
    Droughts demand changes in familiar lifestyles, but we delay. Why make those uncomfortable choices when, we hope, there is bound to be a solution. It will rain, eventually.
    The severity of the current droughts serves to underscore that there are no easy solutions any more than there are likely to be easy technological miracles to save us from ourselves.
    For human life, there can be no substitute for water.

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