27 July 2006

Environmental Angst

Summer vacations have greatly slowed my ability to string together enough sentences to form a post for My Porch. However, I didn't want to leave my millions of readers hanging out with nothing to read.

One of our destinations this summer was Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England (shown at left in this lovely picture from the National Trust's website). Like the US in recent days, England was experiencing very hot weather and greater London was going through a drought.

It makes me anxious.

I will not hazard a guess as to whether or not this recent weather is a part of global climate change. Regardless, it does remind me that global warming is a real problem, and though it may not be frying our bacon today, it will at some point. Once this particular closet of anxieties is open, my environmental nightmares pour out. So many things to worry about with little hope in sight.

One of my more vivid nightmares is about water shortages and the damage we are doing to the earth's potable water. What about the millions of people who have chosen to live in deserts where there is no reasonable local water supply? In some future crisis will the electoral power of these burgeoning population centers overwhelm their less powerful neighbors upstream, commandeering billions of gallons of water just so some snowbird in Phoenix can have a patch of green lawn? Will agricultural and industrial uses in the Plains states overwhelm the recharge capacity of the gigantic Ogallala Aquifer? The rate of water extraction already outpaces the rate of recharge. Will freshwater sources in Hawaii continue to become brackish as seawater infiltrates aquifers due to the ever decreasing water table?

It all makes my head hurt.

Perhaps all this anxiety is what prompted me to plan vacations this summer along the northern California and Oregon coasts as well as plopping down on an islan