We have been given the incredible gift of access to knowledge and access to each other. We are in this adventure called life together as members of the only real race, the human race.
I have to share something important with you. The more I learn about the drought in California and other states, the more I am convinced that we are actually experiencing the First Great Drought I wrote about as fiction in I Call Myself Earth Girl. While I was working on the novel in 2010 and 2011, I was aware that the western and southern states were experiencing severe drought conditions, including more and longer-lasting forest fires. At the time, I did not think that these droughts would still be going on in 2014.
In the book, Gloria is a contemporary woman living in Newport, RI. She is disturbed by recurring dreams in which a young girl who calls herself Earth Girl speaks to her. Gloria eventually becomes convinced that she is pregnant with Earth Girl’s child who was conceived in another lifetime. In the dreams, Earth Girl recounts the story of her life to Gloria. She tells of living in a bleak and barren time.
She first mentions the drought this way: My father told once told me that they stopped putting pictures in books when he was a boy. … Once, I heard him tell my mother that he thought they kept the pictures out of books because they didn’t want the next generations to know how beautiful everything had been before the first great drought.
Later in the story, Earth Girl recounts her father’s fears that a Second Great Drought had begun. He predicts that millions of people will die because the second great drought is happening before the earth has had time to recover fully from the first one. He knows how bad things became during the previous large scale drought. He tells his daughter that “people didn’t pay attention to the first great drought until it was too late.”
Earth Girl also tells Gloria what her mother told her about the droughts and famine: But people weren’t very smart, she said, because if the famine was in a different country, they would just thank God it wasn’t happening to them. They didn’t even notice when bigger parts of their own countries got drier and drier and they had less drinking water and less water for hydroelectric power. … She said that people kept on doing all the things that hurt the earth and then they were surprised when the earth could not recover.
I think that we are the people to whom Earth Girl’s parents were referring. We are not paying enough attention and soon it will be too late. If you find this hard to believe, please do a Google search on droughts. I will include some links to articles at the end of this blog, but if you do your own search, you will be amazed at what you find. There is a wealth of information, and yet, there seems to be a dearth of concern in the general public.
At first Gloria did not pay attention to the mention of the droughts. When she finally does, she is distressed to discover that in 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published this report: An intense drought has gripped the southern tier of the U. S for several months, accompanied by destructive wildfires, low water supplies, and failed crops. Dry conditions emerged as early as October of last year and culminated in one of the driest winter and spring seasons in the observed record for the region. … At the peak of this year’s drought in July, exceptional drought conditions were spread across nearly 12 percent of the U.S., from Arizona to Florida, reaching the highest recorded level of drought since the U.S. Drought Monitor began reporting conditions 12 years ago.
This excerpt is not fiction. I copied it directly from the report. Gloria is alarmed by what she reads, but she does not want to believe that it really matters. She asks herself if this could be the beginning of the first great drought that Earth Girl keeps talking about in the dreams. She tries to convince herself that it is not: Get a grip, girl! Don’t let some crazy dream make you think this stuff really matters. If this was really serious, the government, the scientists and politicians would be all over it. There is no way they would ignore this stuff.
Is Gloria right? Would the government ignore something this serious? Wouldn’t politicians on both sides of the aisle devote hours to this? After all, the drought and its effects – including lack of clean water and failing crops – are major problems.
And if that drought were continuing, wouldn’t it be a major news story? If we were really in a serious drought, wouldn’t the networks devote as much time to it as they did to Justin Bieber egging a neighbor’s house, or Paula Deen’s lawsuit, or the birth of the newest heir to the British throne?
Of course, they would! But, they didn’t. So I am.
In the first of the Earth Girl series, a young girl named Ella does pay attention and she begs grown-ups to pay attention too. In the sequel, Ella’s father, one of the many who did not pay attention, is now dead and living in three different realities. Two of those realities are in the future, but they are very different from each other. One is the future that may result if people don’t pay attention. The other is the future that may be ours if people do pay attention.
I feel compelled to draw people’s attention to the seriousness of climate change and the impending water crisis in my novels, in my blog, on Twitter, facebook, and in general conversation. Just take a moment to think about what life would be like for you if water were a scarce luxury instead of something you take for granted. (I realize that in some parts of the world this is a reality right now.)
Think about this: Today, one-third of the world’s population is living without access to adequate supplies of freshwater. By 2025, up to two-thirds of people in the world may be facing serious water shortages, including people in 35 percent of cities in the U.S. (Statistic from WATER CONSCIOUSNESS)
Take a moment to picture some of your favorite natural places. How different will they be without water? California is already finding this out. Why aren’t we alarmed by this?
Of course, being alarmed really counts for nothing. Figuring out how we, as individuals, can make a difference is what really matters. One way is to let your local, state and federal government representatives know that environmental protection matters to you. I’ll be blogging about this in various ways throughout the rest of 2014.
If you’re with me in this, please spread the word. Share this blog or re-blog it. Write your own blog about it. Put this on facebook. Bring it up in conversation with your friends.
It matters. Let’s not wait to discover how much it matters. It will be too late by then.
As I have written a few times in my blog, we have the privilege of being the people who are on earth right now at this critical juncture in human history. Thanks to the internet and the ease of communication across continents we can transcend national barriers and collaborate together to solve these problems. We have been given the incredible gift of access to knowledge and access to each other. We are in this together as members of the only real race, the human race.
Let’s use these gifts now. Let’s revel in our privilege of being alive right now when we have the power to improve the present and shape the future.
Do it for your loved ones. Do it for my loved ones. Do it for everyone who has loved ones. Do it for those who struggle with lack of water now. Do it for those who will live in the future that our choices create for them. Do it because you can. If you don’t, who will?
WATER CONSCIOUSNESS – How We All Have to Change to Protect Our Most Critical Resource
AlterNet Books, San Francisco, 2008