THE BLOG
01/29/2008 05:17 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Going Brown

I have seen the future and it is not green. It is brown. Brown as in parched. I recently returned from a beautiful lakeside resort in Atlanta, located around what looked like a gorgeous golf course. I'm not a golfer, but I didn't have to be one to marvel at the completely dead and dried grass and the rolling hills of brown.

Atlanta is, of course in the midst of a very serious drought. It will take months of rain for it to return to near normal conditions. But for the residents there, it's been a scary wake-up call about just how little control we humans have over Mother Nature.

Wake up people! Go ahead, roll your eyes and dub me a crunchy, green Al Gore-lovin' mama and I won't argue with you. I know, I know, overuse of the words "global warming" is second only overuse of the term "awesome." Even I have grown weary of the articles and headlines. They threaten to overwhelm in the media as white noise. So let's bypass the debate about whether or not our planet is warming up with the silent hiss of greenhouse effect gasses. Lets just look at the issue of H2O.

Water. Once this was seen as an endless commodity. If someone had predicted that fortunes could be made by selling regular old tap water in plastic bottles, well, those folks would have been laughed out of the medicine show.

There were rivers, lakes, rain, wells and water tables. In just a generation, we are reaching what will soon be a critical issue in the lives of our children and grandchildren. Water is the new gold. He who controls the source, controls the future.

Dire predictions about water supply, clean, potable water and the future of many towns, particularly in the west and southwest don't seem to scare too many of us.

We're still building golf courses in the desert faster than you can shake a stick at. Fly over Phoenix, AZ, or Las Vegas Nevada, both deserts last time I checked, and you'll see a patch work quilt of green amidst rolling golf courses and lawns. Las Vegas? One of the fastest growing cities in the states.

We're still growing produce in places like Southern California where the natural land is dry as a bone in certain seasons. Rice even grows in California, a crop that needs to stand in water like all those photos from lush tropic zones in Asia. Thank goodness for reclaimed water, may all farmers embrace it.

We lived in Phoenix for two years, in the central part of the city that used to be the orange and grapefruit orchards. One lone tree remained in our backyard as a reminder of the past. Every two weeks, the neighborhood would be irrigated. For those of you from the east, like me, who had no idea what that meant, this is what happens... a man comes into the neighborhoods, opens the pipes in each yard, one by one and water flows into each yard around a berm, almost 8 or 10 inches in depth. Needless to say, this was a really popular day for the neighborhood kids to get out side in their bathing suits an splash around in the muddy water. For us mothers, it was kind of the backyard equivalent of tailgating.

But, talk about an inefficient use of water in this day and age. This practice still goes on to this day.

We continue to foul our nests with laundry detergents, and everything else we dump down the drain, including the chemicals we put on our lawns. Our water use is drying up the water tables, overtaxing reservoirs in low rain months. When will this sink in?

It needs to start in each one of our communities. Let's take a long view instead of going for the easy bucks and Band-Aid, cost effective solutions.

What happened in Atlanta could happen anywhere. So let's think green - before we go brown.