By Loraine Debnam
As I was watering my flowers in the thirty degree heat last month, the vagaries of the weather was on my mind.
In northern Alberta too many rainstorms at all the wrong times have left hay crops in poor quality or still lying blackened in the fields. The fragrance of fresh cut hay is one that takes many of us back to scenes of our childhood and reminds us of all the wonderful summers we have known. But this year’s (and last year’s) crops leave a smell similar to silage, a sharp fermenting pungent odor. Overland flooding will leave ranchers searching for feed for their livestock next winter, if they are able to find any.
The weather reports have been filled with pictures of the devastating floods in the southern United States. Many countries around the world have had unprecedented rain and flooding as well. Isn’t it incredible how the amount of water we have or do not have dictates the course of our lives?
Throughout history, water has been both the slave and the master of the people. It has been worshipped by cultures around the world and rain dances, river gods and prayers for rain are part of the stories of every continent.
Although over seventy per cent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, only three per cent of that is fresh water and much of that is in the form of glaciers and ice caps. Scientists tell us that there is plenty of water for the world’s needs but as the population continues to grow, the demand for water grows in proportion.
Industrialized nations need water in great supply as their factories use more of it than any other material. It takes seven gallons of water to refine on gallon of gasoline. Much of this water is reused but too much is polluted and tainted.
North Americans use an average of one hundred gallons (380 l.) per day for their personal use. In Canada we have more than our share of clean water resources but that does not mean we should abuse the gift we have been given. Many of us are becoming more aware of the wasteful habits we have where water is concerned (like leaving it running while we are brushing our teeth).
Education and environmental awareness are wonderful tools that are making headway with many of us.
I know that water doesn’t seem like much of a blessing when one is looking out over ruined hay crops and gardens that will not be enough to feed the family for the winter.
But the other side of that coin is the fact that here in southern Alberta we have over a million of acres under irrigation and produce nearly forty per cent of the crops for the province. This year unpredictable weather has devastated some of the corn and sugar beet production but we are not in the midst of a famine like some other nations of the world.
The weather forecasters have my sympathies, living in Alberta is proof of the old saying “wait five minutes and the weather will change anyway”. That certainly has been the case this year.