Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let the grass die

Here in Palm Beach County we're in the middle of an extreme drought of historic proportions. I count this as another example of the recent extreme weather events happening all over the globe. And you thought warnings about climate change could be ignored since they came from (in Rush Limbaugh's memorable jargon) "environmentalist wackos." It's gotten so bad that West Palm Beach, the city where I live, could run out of water in less than two months.

It's not as if we haven't been warned. For years observers have warned about the danger posed to South Florida's fragile water supply by over-development, over-consumption and over-irrigation. Now nature is striking back, and she can be a bitch.

It's easy to ignore the warnings when rainfall is plentiful. Just as it's easy to ignore the warnings about too many gas-guzzling vehicles and over-reliance on fossil fuels when gas prices are low. Unfortunately, I think the decades-long party we Americans have been having is over -- in a lot of respects. Welcome to the new normal.

I'm hoping some good will come out of this drought by permanently changing our paradigm of water usage. And as much as I hate the high gas prices, if they cause us to think twice about the way we use our automobiles, they could be a good thing in the long run. For one thing I'd like to see us get over our fetish for green lawns and green golf courses (no offense to you golfers out there). If the grass can't survive on what nature provides then it should be left to die. Plant native vegetation, instead of vegetation that needs massive amounts of watering to keep it alive. Irrigation for cosmetic purposes (which accounts for half of the water usage in South Florida!) is a massive waste of a precious resource.

Just my two cents. Take it for what it's worth.

Photo by Brandon Kruse of The Palm Beach Post

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