Rain. Blessed rain. There's nothing like a serious drought to make one appreciate the bounty that falls from the sky. I actually stood out in the rain today when it was coming down fairly hard, reveling in the cool wetness of it. Granted, I really don't have enough sense to not do that, but that's beside the point. ;)
I've been planning on posting this (or something like it) for some time now, but I wanted to wait until we had a good rain so I could drive home a few points. Points which are just as important during "wet" times as they are when we are bone dry.
I've mentioned before how I believe America has a responsibility to set certain standards of behavior and stick by them, so the rest of the industrialized nations as well as the developing ones have some kind of goal to shoot for. Instead of telling people what to do, we need to be prepared to show them, right? This goes for environmental issues as well as other, more visible signs of "enlightened behavior" (for want of a better term).
Unfortunately, we have (once again) allowed ourselves to fall into bad habits. Habits which, on a global scale, could spell the total devastation of this planet. Everybody take a drink of water, and then we'll continue.
Much of the groundwater that slowly migrates through the soil hundreds of feet below us is old water. It's still good, because temperature and constant filtering keep it purged of toxins and microorganisms. It's truly a bounty, but these reserves are now in danger.
Now I'm going to speak about the conspicuous consumption I mentioned in the title. The average American uses some 185 gallons of fresh water daily. That's compared to the 8-10 gallons that many impoverished Africans use.
We use it to keep our life as clean as we possibly can, and we use it to irrigate our crops, regardless of whether the crop is thirstier than others or if the crop should even be grown in a certain area. American ingenuity, right? The fact that we can do something far outweighs the question of whether we should.
Irrigation accounts for 65% of the fresh water used in this country, even though irrigated fields only make up a fraction of cultivated land. And while residential consumption only represents about 10% of water used, do you know what the single biggest irrigated crop is? That's right, your lawn.
Today's rainfall was Heaven-sent, and it looks like we're going to get a few more good wet days. But unfortunately, much of that is running off, and carrying with it fertilizers and pesticides which will further damage our creeks and rivers.
Not nearly enough will infiltrate our soil deep enough to feed the aquifers, and we will keep pumping that precious, ancient water up to feed our reckless lifestyle. All those parking lots, all those roads, all that clever engineering to keep away the pesky extra water, is slowly but surely tipping the balance against our future survival, but we probably won't realize it until it's too late.
Take another drink now, but savor it for a second or two longer.