Water Perspective

“The weather’s been shocking! Where did our sunshine go?”

“I don’t know. All this rain is horrible.”

I listened to this conversation with a mixture of amusement and sadness. Amusement, because, though we’ve had seven days of off-and-on drizzle, it’s not been that bad. It’s not been cold or windy, just overcast with some light rain now and then.

Sadness because the conversation revealed how disconnected the speakers were from the desperate state of Canterbury at the moment. Three years of drought have left our streams dry, our groundwater depleted, and our land tinder-dry. The soil is dry as dust for as far down as you want to dig. This rain hasn’t even begun to bring us back to the soil moisture we should have. It has wet the top few centimetres of soil, no more.

The truth is, we need weeks and weeks of steady rain, just to bring us to where we should be at this time of year, then we need a nice wet winter to top us up.

Beachgoers have been spoiled with three years of clear skies and record high temperatures, but if it continues, there will be dire consequences for the region–a region that depends upon irrigated agriculture to fuel the economy. Not to mention the higher water bills, more frequent wildfires, rising electricity costs (because much of our power comes from hydro lakes), and fewer recreational opportunities.

While those of us involved in growing plants and raising livestock understand this intuitively, the majority of folks, living in town and paying little attention to more than the immediate weather conditions, are completely unaware.

It can’t be good, this lack of awareness. Our planet is facing such catastrophic climate change, that a lack of awareness of larger patterns in weather and climate can only lead to continued lack of action to address the issue, a continued blindness to the changes that to me are so clear and convincing.

Until we all understand that having nothing but beautiful beach days isn’t good, our fight against climate change is going to languish.

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