Monday, January 4, 2010

I Resolve to...

... save the planet, one drop of water at a time. My environmental resolution for 2010 is to conserve more water. I switched to a low-flow shower head over the summer (this was a second attempt, as I couldn't stand the first shower head I tried) but in my last apartment, I got into the bad habit of leaving the water running while I washed the dishes, as there was no room to wash, rinse, and dry. It's terrible, I know. With less than 3% of the world's water able to be used as drinking water, every wasted drop contributes to water woes of the future.

This may not seem like a big problem here in Chicago, as we have one of the largest freshwater lakes right at our doorsteps, (seen above in this skyline shot from Promontory Point in Hyde Park, on a day much nicer than today) but the lack of fresh water is already a reality in parts of Africa and Asia, and-- albeit to a lesser extent-- in parts of the American southwest and the plains states! Some city and state governments have already imposed water restrictions for activities such as watering the lawn or washing the car during the warm summer months, and experts predict that these restrictions will only grow in the coming years.

Warning signs are everywhere; the Colorado River no longer reaches the sea, and the Odwalla aquifer (main source of water for the western plains states) is nearly dry. Scientists fear that the wars of the future may be fought over water, instead of boundary lines or religious differences. That's quite a prediction, but given that water is one of the basic necessities of life, I can see how its scarcity may someday become a contentious issue. But if you don't believe me, then rent a documentary like Flow: For the Love of Water. It's a bit preachy, but raises a number of very real concerns in terms of water conservation. However, I wouldn't recommend watching it before bed; you just might have to sleep with the lights on.

This is why it makes me nuts to see my rich neighbors run their automatic sprinkler systems in the rain, or when the bartender at work leaves the water running even when he's not washing dishes at all, or when people have a leaky faucet that they're just too lazy to fix. And don't get me started on those hyper-sensitive automatic flushers that are triggered by even the slightest movement; I've had toilets flush on me as many as three or four times, while I'm sitting there! It's gross... and wasteful. However, until I get my dish washing habits under control, I don't feel like I have any real room to talk. So watch out, world, because this "Earth" girl is reaching out to embrace another element!

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