Of all natural disasters, drought is the most lethal. As more of earth’s land is cleared of forests, it is also becoming more common. In the last two years, 2006 and 2007, many areas of the world have become victim of drought. As drought becomes more prevalent and more severe what can we look forward to?
The first and most obvious effect of drought is famine. As water becomes too scarce to support crops, food becomes scarce. What food there is becomes so highly priced that the majority of the population can’t afford to buy it. Migration of people out of areas where drought has left them hungry can strain resources in other regions into which masses of people migrate seeking relief.
As food supplies become scarce, conflicts can arise between peoples and nations attempting to acquire food and water supplies. Fights for water rights can lead to wars and thirsty deaths of people who have limited finances to afford increasing water prices. Disease can proliferate as clean water supplies for drinking and cleaning disappear. As green areas dry, fires become more prevalent destroying forests and crops alike.
If natural dangers to our water levels are not frightening enough, we now have the situation that municipal water systems are being bought by multinational corporations, not only in America but other countries as well. With drought becoming a more prevalent problem, we are now also faced with corporations who can charge unconscionable prices for water or worse, deny it completely.
Earth is also experiencing uncontrolled human population growth which, even without drought, is putting a strain on clean water supplies and causing increasing pollution of existing water systems. While people may argue until they are blue in the face that the amount of water on the planet is not changing, their arguments do not explain how we will use polluted water sources or buy water from greedy corporations who own municipal water rights when they decide to start spiking prices to points people can no longer afford to buy this necessity.
Even with planning, a few more years of widespread drought will cause massive chaos, famine, and death if water usage is not brought into immediate control. What can we do to help ourselves? Plenty. Many first line defenses are available and it is up to each one of us to begin taking measures to conserve water.
1. Check your faucets and pipes. If there is a leak, fix it.
2. It’s time to chuck out the toys that run on flows of water. Let the kids find another toy to play with.
3. Lobby your municipalities to discontinue poisoning water to “purify” it. Fluoride and chlorine are poison and produce other poison by products. Water can be cleaned better and more safely using non toxic methods.
4. Water your lawn only as necessary and never use a thin spray. Most of the water from thin sprays evaporate rather than going to nourish plants.
5. Wash your car at car washes that recycle water rather than at home. If you do wash a car at home, park it on the lawn where the water can do your grass some good.
6. Don’t leave water running in the shower or sink while washing. Wet down and turn the water off while you scrub up, then turn it back on when you rinse.
7. Put out containers that will catch rain water. Use this water for lawns and gardens or washing cars.
8. Do not pour your dishwater down the drain – use it for your lawn. You can apply this measure for bath water as well.
9. Make sure you are using non-toxic cleaning and personal care products. The less we pollute the water, the easier it will be to clean and reuse it.
10. Store backup water supplies. You should have a supply of water stored for all emergencies anyway. Please note to rotate your supply so it doesn’t get too old. Replace each jug of stored water at least every 6 months. If you have the room for one you might consider putting a small water tower in your backyard. A tower can also be used to catch rain water. Make sure your tank has a removable top and a screen cover to keep debris out when you use it to catch rain water.
11. Invest in products that help recycle water. One third of water used in most households goes for flushing toilets. You can now buy products that will recycle sink and bath water for use to flush toilets. Other innovative products which save water are also available as science turns technology to the task of cleaning and conserving our resources. Help yourself and whole communities by installing products that recycle the water you use.
12. Don’t forget that one other disaster that accompanies drought is famine. You can grow food efficiently using hydroponics with very little space and save much water by doing so. Hydroponic gardening solves many of the usual problems of food production and is easy and inexpensive.
13. Buy water rights for your own property. That way if there is a crackdown by greedy corporations you can fight them.
Just because you have plenty of water today does not mean that endless supplies will be available to you in the near future. Only by adopting conservative attitudes towards our water and food supplies today can we hope to meet the oncoming water crisis of tomorrow. Make sure you tell your legislators how you feel about them selling your municipal water supplies today. Set up town meetings to discuss how your community plans to meet water shortages and what they are doing about cleaning water sources to keep them drinkable in the future. We might not be able to completely escape drought, but together we can work to make sure most will survive one.