Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Water, Water, Not Everywhere

Namibia is largely a desert nation, aside from small patches of green in the north. It's desert right up to the Atlantic coastline. As a result, water, and food, are always in short supply. But there is supposed to be a rainy season in the (Southern Hemisphere) summer, November to March, that keeps at least something growing.

Rainy season didn't come.

It didn't come last year either.

Namibia is now experiencing its worst drought in 30 years. According to UNICEF, 778,000 people, a third of the country's population, cannot at this moment count on consistent access to food. 105,000 of those people are under the age of five. The livestock can pretty much forget about being fed. Outside aid groups are complaining of underfunding; internal aid groups... well, they may be slightly ill-advised.

Global climate change is blamed.

Meanwhile, in the American Southwest, also known for its scarcity of rain, city governments are taking increasing action against grassy lawns, which many residents, originating from rainier areas of the country where lawn watering isn't an issue, brought with them. Grass lawns require water, and aside from looking nice and being soft, there really isn't too much of a practical purpose to them. Las Vegas has banned new developments from having grass lawns. Austin, Texas has banned watering before sunset. Several cities, including Los Angeles, are offering rebates to anyone who rips up their lawn; Las Vegas has had a rebate program in place since 2003.

Not that every homeowner wants to do so. The New York Times quotes Los Angeles homeowner Betty Humphrey as saying, “It’s getting to the point where kids live in apartments, and they don’t even see grass, except in magazines... I don’t want to end up like New York or Chicago, with no grass."

No, but you also don't want to wind up like Namibia, with no water.

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