This is what a drought looks like in Chad, central Africa:
This is what a drought looks like in England:
This year the much of south and central England is experiencing a drought. Chances are, the most serious consequence for most people is that they will have to wash their cars with a bucket rather than a hosepipe. If it continues into the summer, our thirsty suburban lawns will be less green. The kids might have to forego the paddling pool.
Farmers are going to have a tough year, but most people will hardly notice. Nobody’s going to starve to death or be displaced from their homes. There will be no UN feeding programmes for East Anglia, no DEC appeal, no refugee camps set up on the Welsh border.
One of the most overlooked privileges of living in a developed country is that we are sheltered from our environment. We live one step removed from it, and nature is mediated to use through our infrastructure. Although all our water ultimately comes to us as rainfall, we don’t experience it that way – we get it through our taps. Our experience of water is almost entirely divorced from the natural cycles that we depend on.
That is a huge blessing, and also something of a curse. Being disconnected from the source of our water means we take it for granted. We waste it and get into bad habits. It’s very easy to slip into patterns of water usage that are unsustainable. And then we’re surprised and indignant when nature doesn’t indulge us.
In Britain, the average person uses 150 litres a day. We all know we need to reduce that, but it starts with being aware of our water, being thankful for it, acknowledging and appreciating just how easily it comes to us.