Our Obsession with Green LawnsEric Alan CampbellCOMM215October 13, 2014April Adams
Running head: OUR OBSESSION WITH GREEN LAWNS
OUR OBSESSION WITH GREEN LAWNS
Our Obsession with Green LawnsThe manicured lawn exploded into popularity in the 1950s. The advent of inexpensive motorized lawn mowers and fertilizing chemicals made lawns a reality for the middle class. America has over 50,000 square miles of grass in cultivation. Now in 2014, California is facing a drought like none seen before in modern times. Crops are withering, lakes are running dry, fires are catching everywhere and yet, around every corner, I see manicured lawns. Vast expanses of nothing but healthy, beautiful, allergy inducing grass. It's irresponsible, and harmful to our environment and economy.The 2013-14 rainfall season is on track to be the driest in 434 years, according to Lynn Ingram, a paleo-climatologist at UC Berkley. The concern generated by this drought brought together a group of emergency planners and water managers for an event known as the "California Drought Outlook Forum" on February, 20 2014 in Sacramento, California. They determined that the water outlook for the state was similar to the droughts in the 1970s. However, our water obligations have increased greatly in the following decades. Marty Hoering of the NOAA states, "The stress created by the current failed rains is more severe than for similar rainfall deficits 40 years earlier."The central focus for this concern is the substantial agricultural business that California sustains, from avocados to almonds to pistachios, a number of crops are grown in California's fertile central valleys. A recent report estimated that indirect and direct losses to agriculture would amount to $2.2 billion, and lead to the loss of over 17,000 seasonal and part time jobs. An even greater cause for concern is that the historical record shows that western North America went through a large scale drought in the medieval era, between 850-1110 A.D. This so called 'perfect drought' was caused by an atmospheric depression known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which contributed to long term aridity in the western United States. (MacDonald, Kremenetski, & Hidalgo, 2007)Irrespective of this knowledge, many western state water managers do not have solid emergency plans in place. If they do have plans in place, they rely on perhaps useless or outdated indicators to respond to drought conditions. "Most states selected their indicators randomly, 'out of a hat,' without knowing whether they 'worked.' Once selected, indicators suffered from neglect, stemming from lack of relevance and credibility, which led to lack of use and evaluation, which reinforced the problem of knowing whether they were effective." (Steinemann, 2014)Armed with this knowledge, I believe informed citizens can help make a change. The California Department of Water Resources reports that the water needs for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses...