Friday, May 22, 2015

Discover & Go Wins Again

It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, it was a sullen and overcast day, so to inject a little cheer, we went to the Academy of Sciences. And because we planned ahead (by one day only), we went for free. There we were graced with the company of two young friends - Aly and Avery - who also got in for free. Thank you Discover & Go - Oakland.

We sweated through the rain forest, lurked in the aquarium (I had never seen the boa constrictor before and have no plans to see this or any other one again), caught the tail end of the penguin feeding, and then moved on to the planetarium for the show, Habitat Earth (don't bother, it was kinda slow and preachy).

Great entertainment for a gray day.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Flower Floozies Strike Back

The wonderful gardeners at Annie's Annuals are getting armed with reason, and for a reason.

Recently their blog featured, "Home Gardeners are NOT the Problem", an article debunking some of the big, scary ideas going around about water and its lack.

Their conclusions: basically, if you don't have a large lawn in a hot summer area, then you are probably not the problem. That doesn't mean that we all still don't have to be careful about water usage. Yes, wasting is bad, especially now that EBMUD proposes to raise rates by at least 7 percent. And that's not counting the drought surcharge they are contemplating. (You see, if we use less water, they make less money... Someone is supposedly looking into this conflict of interest at the state level, but I'm not holding my breath.)

However, that didn't stop some passerby asking me yesterday if the water I was using to hand water my peas came from the bathtub (none of your business, buster. And by the way, how come you're driving around, alone, in a big-ass SUV?).

But the big water numbers are elsewhere. The true culprits are large agricultural interests that insist on growing water-intensive crops - almonds being the poster child for bad water management - in the very thirsty areas of the state. Obviously, almonds and desert are not a good match, especially when most of the almond crop leaves the state.

Pretty much everyone is in agreement that 75 - 80 percent of the state's water is used by agriculture. What is less well known is that agriculture and mining together constitute about 2 (yes, two-point-zero) percent of the economy, and employs 3 - 4 percent of the labor force. Now that's a lotta water going to a very small piece of the action.

For their part, agricultural interests argue that they cannot accept water rationing because how else would the rest of us get fed? Food - yes. Non-essential crops  - say for example, the alfalfa grown here, which is exported to China for beef, which is then shipped back here (I just don't want to pick on almonds again) - let me think about it.

However, our Governor is not letting us think about it. He is singling out urban and suburban water users for mandatory rationing. He may feel our pain, but he sure ain't sharing it around. So shower with a friend, get rid of your lawn (plant some tomatoes or beans instead), and let Jerry know that there is a "big picture" and a "little picture" and he's got 'em backwards.