Monday, August 27, 2012

Consequences of the Drought

During this summer’s extended drought many communities have imposed water use regulations on their residents. Water levels everywhere are down many feet and there are some power plants that have to build a deeper water intake to cool the plants because theirs is now above the current water level. The corn crop has withered to the lowest yield expectations in decades and you could lose a foot in the cracks in the ground.

 Yet, a report just came out that we are using more water than other years when there wasn’t a drought. Why?  Are we that concerned about our flowers, gardens, lawns, and trees? Or are we taking more showers because of the hot temperatures and we need to feel cleaner?

Whatever the reason, we have a serious situation on our hands. I am not a biologist or a climate scientist but it doesn’t take an expert to look around and see what is going on. I have to wonder what happens to the CO2 in the atmosphere if more plants die because of lack of water. And with higher costs for food and fuel on the way, what happens to the economic recovery?

Do all of these things put together force farmers to try to plant more acres next year? What about the clean energy development in the country? What we have seen so far is a slowing of wind farm development. But, power demand is still growing. Solar energy plants out west have extremely small profit margins as it is, and what if what little tax credit incentives there are, dry up? Their development will follow suit.  These clean forms of energy don’t pose the huge environmental impacts that coal, nuclear, and oil do. Yet, fossil fuel industries receive more subsidies than all renewables combined, times 5!

So what can we do about it? We can’t do anything big at the moment, unfortunately. That isn’t how things work; though I wish they would.

A few things must come first.

1.       Use less water and power. – That will decrease the demand on the waterways and the power plants. Make a conscious effort to do this.

2.       Recycle! Making new products out of recycled items saves energy, water, and resources thereby putting less of a burden on power plants and ecosystems. Close the loop and buy recycled products to keep the demand going.

3.       Write, email, and /or call your legislators and let them know what is important to you. They can’t vote and represent you in the ways you would like if they are only hearing from voices that are not consistent with your views.

4.       Influence your friends, family, and neighbors. Get the discussions going. You may know about the balance and dependence on nature but maybe they don’t. Maybe all they see is their grocery and gas bills going up and don’t understand why.

These are not big actions. They won’t take you a lot of time either. In fact, the only thing that takes time is getting your voice heard by your representatives. What about your family, neighbors and friends? You see them all the time anyway, whether you like it or not in some cases, so you can bring it up with them at those times.
Baby steps, everyone. We have to crawl before we walk, and I see these few small steps as good ways to get us there. 

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