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Offbeat 03 October 2014

I have this thing about water. I love it so much, I try not to use it much, sort of like the way I try not to eat too much chocolate cake or wurst, and never eat salami.

There was another summit about the environment a little while ago, in my view only more hot air from the UN adding to the global warming. One of the senior people involved in the summit, said that the conference was not there to resolve anything, just to get politicians to agree that things need to be agreed upon.
I can almost picture the talk fest, a horde of well-dressed people being meaningful with apparent sincerity, then heading home and waiting for another country to make the first move. I imagine it like a Mexican stand-off with rapidly overheating thermometers. The world works in mysterious ways.
Obviously, for want of actual news, for instance some kind of resolution to resolve things, there was a lot of media coverage of issues that should be resolved. Naturally, a lot of it was galleries, because people prefer to look, rather than read.
The shots which stick in my mind are the dried up lakes and dams. Being a Namibian, I am used to rivers in which there runs no water, and dams that are optimistically dry, just waiting for the good rains to arrive. However being a Namibian, it also defies belief that people who actually have dams with water in them can be so greedy as to use it all up.
My mind turned to the politicians at that conference, and I immediately thought that those are the sort of people who are so rich and pampered that they actually have lawns made of grass, not good Namibian lawns that are made of stones, that only go green when it rains, just before the dubbeltjies need to be weeded.
I have this thing about water. I love it so much, I try not to use it much, sort of like the way I try not to eat too much chocolate cake or wurst, and never eat salami.
I save up my washing so that the machine is never anything less than full, and then I do a short cycle to use less water. I’m the sort of person who feels a bit guilty about washing too many dishes. The only water used in the garden goes on the veggies and a couple of shrubs. Sometimes, once or twice a year, I water the creeper when it starts looking desperate.
Then I look at photos of lakes that were once full of the wet stuff, that have had all the water sucked out of them, to water lawns of all things. I think of politicians and rich folks who have lawns watered on their behalf, and I get into a bit of a black mood.
It strikes me that there are people who rarely drink water, who treat it as a poor-man’s necessity. Instead they fill themselves with colas, cool drinks, coffee, tea and alcoholic liquids. For many, the closest they come to water is ice cubes.  The healthy ones, who do drink water, buy it in bottles, and don’t know the pleasure of filling a glass from the tap or drinking from the tap on a hot day and sucking it down.
That sort of mindset, I think, is probably the same one that tells people it is fine and well to shoot animals for fun, not for eating.
The drying up lakes, even a couple of inland seas, give me a bit of satisfaction though. Mostly people don’t learn from being told. They have to experience things the hard way. Just like children learn the hard way that matches can be very, very painful, people have to learn that lawns are going to make them thirsty. In this connected world, where everything is known almost immediately, it is sometimes difficult to join the dots because there are far too many of them. However, if you look closely and long enough, things begin to jump out at you.
The whole thing in the Middle East is not really about oil or religion. At its root, it is about water. If the fields were always lush and green there, people would have more to eat and to live off. Far fewer people would want to get up and commit murder if they were really satisfied. It’s the same on the Horn of Africa.
The economy of the thing is a trade-off between water and people. If there is less water, there have to be less people. If there were more water, there would be more happiness. Unfortunately, the decision makers show their true colours with lawns.

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