Conspicuous Consumption vs Environmental Stewardship

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.


The neighborhood kids gathered at my house and played soccer and

football in our the rain. Everyone is in a better mood. Last night we watched the neighborhood boys play in the middle school football games in the rain. It poured at one point, but the games played on and we sat huddled under the umbrellas and loved every minute.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The pleasure is mine, for sure :)

I have to admit, the knowledge that many current and future elected officials, as well as others who may weild influence, read BlueNC on a regular basis is definitely a motivating factor in my blogging here.

Managing our natural resources properly is incredibly important, but we haven't been doing the job very well for a long time. That needs to change.

interesting report

from california's water authority. they do no think they are in a water crisis yet even though in southern california, they are getting half of what they need from northern california and the colorado river and have had no real rain fall for a year. they have not yet sent "mandatory" restrictions to the many cities and towns, only voluntary. So, beverly hills is green and lush.

Good post, but

I would argue with this:

There's nothing like a serious drought to make one appreciate the bounty that falls from the sky.

Every year that I have lived in the area (a little over 4), there has been an issue with water and a claim that it is a drought. After a while, isn't it the normal state of the area. After so much unplanned construction, the balance is inevitably turned to use having permanent year-round water problems.

Right you are.

It is permanent and it is year round and it's getting more problematic every year.

I think it is somewhere in Texas...

that has now reached the point where they have had severe drought for ... nine years? So, because of that, there was some feeling that the ecology of the place was permanently changed. Something about if you have that kind of sustained change over 7-9 years, then the "climate" of that area changes.

boy, that was helpful, huh?

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Sort of like the wonderfull planning in South Fl

Lake Okeechobee is drying up. This is the headwaters that drain into the Everglades and provides all the drinking water for S. Fl. Bush (both pres and gov) determined that the Everglades shouldn't be protected anymore and has allowed almost unlimited construction. The water in the Homestead area is nasty.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

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Florida is the last place

reckless construction should be happening.

Due to the nature of the porous sub-strata, groundwater moves much faster there. Which means, whatever pollutants are introduced spread much quicker and are not well filtered, impacting not only the wildlife but the quality of the water as well.

Some tidbits on this topic ...

On NPR this week a hydrologist reported that 1 inch of Lake Superior represents some god aweful amout of water ( 5 billion gallons? it was definately billions). The thing is that Lake Superior is 2 feet below normal. That's a lot of fresh water gone missing.

The Oglalla aquifer has about 15-25 years left at current rates of drainage. Another reason not to go down the ethanol road; the midwest will be a dust bowl in 30 years.

This is a very timely post. Thank you.

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I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

If you read over again

my post, you will detect the influence of

On NPR this week a hydrologist reported

in a few of my comments. :)

Great story, and it should soon be available in audio form from NPR's website.