Our Wells are Running Dry

It was in my fourth grade science class that I remember learning about water conservation for the first time. In the text book, there was a picture  of a boy standing in front of a bathroom sink, brushing his teeth. Beside the picture, was a lesson about the need to conserve the earth’s most important chemical compound, water – because all living things will die without it.

The reason for the insert of the boy brushing his teeth was to teach kids to turn the faucet off while they brush. Maybe that message didn’t stick with the other kids in my class, but it stuck with me. And today, at 39 years old, I still shut the water off while I brush my teeth.

It’s become second-nature to me now. If I’m in the bathroom while someone is brushing their teeth and the water’s running, I’ll rush to turn the faucet off.

“Doesn’t that noise drive you crazy?” I ask.

“What noise?” Is the response I usually get, with a weird look.

Oh, right. People who are used to brushing their teeth while the faucet is on probably don’t even hear the water running anymore, while to someone like me, who is used to silence while she brushes her teeth, a running faucet sounds like Niagara Falls.

At a young age, I learned to turn the water off when I wasn’t using it. And now, it seems, it may be time you learn to do the same because our water is running out.

The Chicago Sun-Times featured an article about the global crisis of vanishing groundwater. The three-page feature scared me more than any Stephen King novel ever had because this story was much too real.

The article centered on a four-generation farm family in the plains of Southwestern Kansas, who’d been farming in that region since 1902. But now, the family farm may not survive another generation because “the groundwater they depend on is disappearing.”

The High Plains Aquifer, which lies underneath eight states, is the lifeline of “one of the world’s most productive farming economies.” An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock…from which groundwater can be extracted using a water well. (wikipedia)

These wells are going dry.

“Much more water is pumped from the ground that can be naturally replenished. Groundwater levels are plummeting.”

A study was conducted on 32,000 wells in a span of two decades and it “found water levels falling in nearly two-thirds of those wells.”

Across the nation, water levels have declined 64 percent.

Thirteen counties in five states have water levels averaging declines of more than 40 feet since 1995. In one of the country’s largest depletion zones, “the average water levels in more than 4,000 wells are 13.2 feet lower today than they were in 1995.”

Two-thirds of the nation’s fresh groundwater is used for agriculture. According to Huffpost, to produce just one pound of beef requires about 1,847 gallons of water, where a pound of chickpeas uses about 500 gallons. It’s no wonder why the governor of the drought-stricken state of California responded to the lack of water in his state, by saying, “If you ask me, I think you should be eating veggie burgers.”

High meat consumption is using up a lot of our drinking water.

Just like climate change, “groundwater depletion has become another human-made crisis that could bring devastating consequences.”

In just five years, the amount of water pumped from the four-generation farm family’s wells fell 30 percent – in just five years.

During World War I, American soldiers and their allies were facing starvation because farms were destroyed and turned into battlefields. Food was scarce. Selected by President Woodrow Wilson, future President Herbert Hoover formed a program that asked Americans for their patriotic support in reducing their consumption of wheat, meat, sugar, and fats. There were slogans like, “Food will win the war,” that encouraged people not to waste food, and to eat less meat so more could be sent to hungry soldiers protecting our freedom.

According to History.com, as a result of the conservation efforts, “food shipments to Europe were doubled within a year, while consumption in America was reduced 15 percent.”

This country came together once before to save food for our soldiers, we can come together again, but this time, to save water for each other and for our planet.

wells

Below are a couple of links with easy tips on how you can conserve water every day.

http://www.bewaterwise.com/tips01.html

http://eartheasy.com/live_water_saving.htm

http://www.home-water-works.org/water-conservation-tips

*I don’t own the picture above. I believe it is public domain, but if it is subject to copyright, I will take it down.

*Also, all the quotes that weren’t cited directly were taken from the Chicago Sun-Times article noted in my blog.

This is Me Finally Doing Something

I talk about dogs…a lot. And I write about dogs…a lot.

If you follow my blog at all, you probably already know this. It wasn’t my intention to use so much space penning about my favorite animal, but these things happen. I write about what I love.

Ever since adopting my Lab/Pit mix, Phil, five years ago, I’ve gotten more involved with animals than I ever had before, or ever imagined myself to be. I volunteer at an animal shelter, spending as much extra time with the dogs, outside of my regular shift, as I can.

I protest regularly with an organization against pet stores selling puppies that come from puppy mills, which are most, if not all, pet stores. With this group, I have also sat in on town meetings to support a ban against the sale of puppy-mill puppies, and I’ve emailed numerous politicians pleading for such a ban.

I’ve taken my stance. I’ve lent my voice to a cause I believe in. Whether it be through emails, signs in my hands, or by my mere presence, my voice has been spoken, but whether it’s been heard? I don’t know.

But I won’t stop.

I don’t state this to show how wonderful I am. I’m not wonderful. Trust me. I’m a terrifically-flawed person. A Deeply, terrifically-flawed person. I write this because I don’t know where all this fight came from. I didn’t grow up in a household of activists. Neither of my parents had staunch political beliefs. We just lived our lives in a quiet suburb, where the word “protest” was never uttered.

But then, decades later, I adopted a pit-bull mix, and everything changed.

Even though having a pet isn’t new to me, this time around it was different. Growing up we had a cherished family dog, a Lhaso Apso/Maltese mix named Coco, for over fifteen years. But I was a child when we got him, and barely a young adult when he died. None of the years between that time did I ever think about animal abuse. I had naively assumed that all dogs were as loved and doted on as Coco was. Maybe I was too young, or too capably self-absorbed to look beyond the walls built around my cozy little life to see the world.

But I’m looking now, and I see the kinds of abuse animals suffer. Phil’s breed is the most abused and neglected breed of all dogs. The moment I fell in love with my pit-bull mix, I knew I had to fight for him. But I can’t only fight for pit-bulls. I need to fight for all the animals suffering because of human greed. Whether it be dogs living their miserable lives in dirty, over-crowded puppy mills, or pigs crammed into gestation crates so small they can’t even turn around, or mother cows bellowing for their babies, taken from them seconds after birth, to either be killed for meat, or raised to suffer as a dairy cow.

I need to fight for all animals being abused..

Last week, I participated in my first protest with Mercy for Animals. It was a protest against the way farm animals are forced to suffer.

This isn’t me being wonderful. This me finally doing something. And it’s about time I did.

puppy-mill-     pig_gestation_crates1pigs in crates

loving-mother-cow-and-calf1 Beautiful picture of love right here.

*I don’t own these pictures. I will take them down if they are copyrighted.