Contemplating conservation: Save the water, save the world

When it comes to the environment, citizens of this country would be hard pressed to get their heads deeper beneath the sand.

There are two basic resources that are indispensable to every other endeavor. They are energy and water. The traditional methods for obtaining these resources are not sustainable. Like a bank account that you withdraw more than you deposit, it is inevitable that these resources will run out.

As a nation, the U.S. is completely dependent on fossil fuels, and will consequently run out. For water needs, the nation is pumping out groundwater faster than it can be restored, and the U.S. Geological Survey has fully documented the depletion of this resource.

These seem like simple points. They seem like the types of problems that would merit immediate action. I don’t know anyone who wants to ride a bike to work in the Florida heat with nothing in his or her water bottle. But it seems not enough people are taking these glaringly urgent issues seriously.

Driving mile after mile past over-developed, labyrinthine Tampa suburbs, one will notice that every house has a lush, verdant lawn. In addition to itching your feet, this St. Augustine grass needs copious amounts of water to maintain, specifically “weekly watering to maintain optimal appearance,” according to Behind each of these well-manicured lawns stands a home in which people are taking 15-minute showers and leaving the water running while they brush their teeth.

Citizens of the Tampa Bay area have become casually acquainted with the effects of this rampant waste. People are already paying for a new desalination plant – a facility in which salt is removed from water to make it potable – yet they still continue to use more water. Speaking of salt water, when the water table in an area bordered by an ocean is lowered, the salt water rushes in to fill the space. This is happening right now, in the aquifer below your feet.

The rest of the country isn’t any better.

Two highly-affected areas are Houston – where water levels have declined 400 feet – and Chicago, where overuse has depleted groundwater to the tune of 900 feet All of this information is available through the U.S. Geological Survey Web site.

To solve this issue, conservation is the key. Let me emphasize: There is no viable alternative other than decreased water use.

Sure, we could desalinate until the cows come home. Then, when the water bill has an extra zero on the end, people may actually start conserving.

The other big issue in environmental policy is fossil fuels. Not only are they increasingly expensive and non-renewable, they are destroying the ozone layer and heating up the entire planet.

Although GOP scientists have yet to prove that an atmosphere actually exists, most people who aren’t being lobbied by oil companies are convinced.

For a second though, forget about the worldwide environmental hazards. Even forget the fact that oil and natural gas will completely run out one day, leaving people high and dry. Focus on the economical fallacy that is fossil fuels.

If the country were to spend more on solar power, it could provide 69 percent of the United States’ electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050, according to Scientific American. Those numbers could increase to 100 and 90, respectively, by 2100.

Opponents of solar power will point to the estimated $420 billion in subsidies required to achieve these results. But when one compares that $420 billion to the price of the 9 million barrels of oil the U.S. imports every day, according to the Energy Information Administration, solar power starts to make financial sense.

With the price of oil approaching $100 dollars a barrel, solar power makes financial sense to everyone except oil tycoons, which is why you shouldn’t elect one and put him in charge of energy policy.

It’s time for the citizens of this great nation to stop being lulled into complacency by reality TV and start being outraged. The planet is being destroyed and people are being massively swindled to satiate the avarice of a handful of evil men. It is time to start holding elected officials accountable for the destructive, unsustainable policies they enact out of sheer greed.

Solar power and water conservation are the only ways to preserve the American way of life. I’m sorry if the facts are inconvenient, but people must try to adjust.