The Collegian
Sunday, February 25, 2024

Change behavior now or pay later

In 2005, if someone had asked me to pick a theme for the year, my one word response would have been water.

Not to belittle other tragic events in 2005, but it was a marked year from the start. As champagne bottles popped on New Years, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia were all being devastated by a tsunami. Eight months later, the theme of water surged ahead, hitting very close to home with Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes to ever strike the United States.

Two years later not only are we still recovering from these events, but we also face potentially graver problems on the other side of the spectrum. These days I would still place water as a main theme — though in a very different context. The prominent question proves not to be, "What do we do with all of this water?" but rather, "Where is all of the water?" Drought overwhelms in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. In fact, the Southeast has suffered the worst drought on record. On Oct. 20, half of Georgia was declared to be in a state of emergency. Slowly restrictions and water cutbacks are being imposed. Slowly being the key word. Parts of Georgia's Lake Lanier, which provides water to about five million people, looks more like a beach than anything else.

The drought is turning into a full-on water fight. Georgia wants to file suit against Florida and Alabama for stealing its water. The Endangered Species Protection Act mandates that Georgia provide water for these states, except in cases of severe drought. As it happens, Lake Lanier not only supplies a host of people, it also feeds into the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint-three different Florida rivers that come together in one basin. This basin, in turn, provides water to an estimated one hundred and thirty five species. It also contributes about $134 million to Florida's economy through commercial fishing. This multi-faceted, powerful problem continues to evolve.

Just last week, I dodged sprinklers on my way to class. Anyone else sidestep that man-made rain? Or maybe, as it was so hot, you took a dive through. Whatever your policy — dodge or dive — they were running. I'm not insinuating that the water from our sprinklers derives from Lake Lanie, or even that our campus isn't doing a good job with conservation, but we could help out a bit more.

Isn't it strange that in 2005 water ravaged and inundated the world, and by 2007 it's desperately needed? Connecting these nonsensical dots, I arrived at global warming.

The greatest of all themes, it's causing droughts, floods, wildfires, the loss of endangered species and human deaths. In sync with that notion, we are running through our natural resources. So whether you believe in global warming or not, it's time to start sacrificing. A world without water can't exist. If this entire piece hasn't been one already, here's my environmentalist plug: Do something. Break old habits. Consider not right now, but what will happen in 50 years.

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