It is finally starting to look like March instead of January, as the huge snow piles start to melt. More spring birds are arriving each day. I’ve heard killdeer and sandhill cranes this week, seen bluebirds and redwing blackbirds and grackles. I’ve also heard that the snowy owl that’s been in Howe is still being seen as of last week.
We’ve survived the change to Daylight Savings Time, Pi Day (March 14), (Beware!) the Ides of March (March 15), and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). Maple Wood has celebrated yet another successful Maple Syrup Festival. I saw some kids flying a kite on Sunday. Thursday, March 20, is the first calendar day of spring – has anyone notified the guy in charge of weather?
Another notable date coming up is March 22, World Water Day. It was declared as such in 1993 by the United Nations. Each year has its own theme and this year it is “Water and Energy.” The first point made is that water requires energy and energy requires water. Water for energy is obvious: hydroelectric power, fracking, cooling for nuclear plants, among others. Energy for water is not as obvious, but should be: we need to pump it, transport it, purify it, and reclaim it after use. Secondly, supplies of both are limited and demand is increasing. Third, saving energy is saving water, and saving water is saving energy. (www.unwater. org)
According to The Nature Conservancy, the average American’s water footprint (the amount of water we use) is 32,911 glasses a day or 751,777 gallons per year. My first reaction, and probably yours, was “That’s preposterous!” However, they aren’t just counting the water you drink, cook with, wash dishes with, shower in, do laundry with, flush toilets with, and use in your garden. The claim is that 96 percent of this water is “hidden.” It includes water that is used to grow and make things you eat, wear, and use, and to generate energy. Think of irrigation that grows the corn to feed the beef for your hamburger, or the irrigation that is used to grow cotton for your clothes. Then there’s water required for the transportation and manufacturing, and even the manufacturing of the transportation devices! A glass of tea uses 35 liters of water, but a cup of coffee uses 140 liters to produce. (A liter is just a bit more than a quart. Think of a two-liter pop container.) A glass of milk needs 200 liters for its production, whereas a tomato is only 13 liters and a potato is only 25 liters. Then you get to the really big numbers: a hamburger can use as much as 2400 liters to produce and a beef steak took 7,000 liters! (The website – kidworldcitizen.org – didn’t mention how large the beefsteak was.)
So how should we celebrate World Water Day? The UN is having a conference in Tokyo, Japan, but that’s not much of an option for the average citizen. Plus you’d waste a lot of water getting there considering the transportation involved! But you can be aware of how much water you use and make a special effort on this day to conserve water.
Some suggestions are turn off faucets, fix leaks, take shorter showers, and don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth. Another suggestion is to avoid meat for a day – or better yet, one day a week, since the higher up the food chain you go, the more water is required for its production. Drinking less water isn’t advisable – in fact, drinking more water is a better choice than drinking other beverages that use more water to produce.
If you have children try asking them for suggestions of how your family can personally conserve water. The more you involve them in the planning, the more likely they are to go along with whatever ideas your family comes up with. And they might have some good ideas of their own beyond what’s been mentioned so far.
As the snow melts and we see flooded fields and overflowing rivers and streams, it’s easy to forget how little fresh water is available in the world as a whole. We are blessed here with an abundance, but that’s no excuse to squander this valuable resource. And if World Water Day is a success for each of us, maybe we will all be a little more aware of how much water we use and how we can conserve it on a daily basis.