A regular column on Treading Lightly Upon The Earth
Call it climate change or simply say the weather’s different.
However you describe the unpredictable nature of so much of our weather nowadays, the situation is the same – we are facing more extremes which most of us are ill-equipped to handle.
Lack of rain, with its dire effect on water levels in dams, reservoirs, and rivers, is the problem that hits us all hardest as we try to be self-sufficient in our veggie patch and provide enough pasture for livestock.
Whether it is part of a cycle of change, or a symptom of damage to the earth’s atmosphere caused by mankind, the consequences are the same.
Scientists are not unanimous in their verdicts on the reasons behind the situation but the changes are undeniable.
Many of us have become experts at re-cycling water, capturing every drop that falls, and recognising priorities.
Washing vegetables? Keep the water and use it on the tomato plants and spinach.
Not for us the well-watered, but useless lawn, and the clean shiny car.
As the ground becomes as hard as iron, it is more difficult to exercise horses without causing damage to their legs.
Ground that has been compacted by the use of heavy equipment can cause dangerous run-off when there is heavy rainfall.
Dust, dwindling grazing, and shriveled lettuces are part of life during prolonged drought.
Flash floods, gale-force winds, snowfall at the “wrong” time of year, and numerous unexpectedly mild winters are part of a worldwide trend of unpredictability that tests our homes and our lifestyles.
Whether we’re living the rural idyll, or carving a niche among 200,000 others in a city, the challenge is the same.
Mankind has to reduce water consumption by cutting down on waste, as well as designing appliances and equipment that can be manufactured and used with less water.
Sprinklers, swimming pool top-ups, running the tap when cleaning your teeth, and many other large and small aspects of daily living can all benefit from the water-economy treatment.
Digging precautionary dikes and ditches are furthest from our minds when we are baking under a hot sun.
We are warned, however, that even in temperate zones, such means are going to be required to prevent tragedy and damage on a massive scale.
It’s bad enough having to clear up silt and wrecked belongings from our homes, but when that is combined with death or injury to our friends and loved ones, the prospect is a frightening one.
Even in prolonged dry spells vigilance is important.
Make sure that water courses are kept clear of obstructions, clear rainwater gutters of tinder-dry leaves, and ensure that, when the weather breaks, rain can be guided away safely.
Home maintenance is not everybody's favourite occupation but it’s got to be better than coping with the consequences of ignoring it.