Living during a time of mega-drought, you have to learn to hang on to hope. The world is finally waking up to the reality of climate change, after many, many years of angry denial and turning the issue into a political football. Is there anyone left out there who still doesn't believe? Probably, but it no longer matters any more. Just like the "theory" of gravity, climate change is not something you have to believe in for its effects be felt.
Last night I was driving through some vineyards with Big Ag and looking at the 1000-foot wells, the giant uncovered reservoirs, and the acres and acres of grapes we grow here. And I thought of another place we used to live, which had nothing but almond orchards, as far as the eye could see.
And I asked my man, who is proficient in All Things Agricultural, if all of this was sustainable, long-term. He thought about it for a minute -- actually so long I thought he might have forgotten the question -- before answering, "probably not, long term." And what was long-term in his books, I asked? 20 years until it first gets ugly, he said, and 100 years before most of it is finally gone.
He said that our great-grandchildren would see ghost orchards and ghost vineyards, which brought to my mind how local hikers sometimes stumble upon ghost towns up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains -- the empty, decaying remnants of the boom towns from the Great California Gold Rush of 1849. Maybe our days will be known as the century of the Great California Agricultural Rush, from 1950 - 2050, give or take a few years. Who knows?
But I will tell you something. If you focus on those things, particularly if you are a sensitive person who tries to live a "do no harm" kind of lifestyle, you will find yourself enormously depressed at what the future holds. So my advice is this: Be aware, but don't dwell on it. Here is the one and only thing you can do to make a difference: You can do what you can, where you are. And that's about it, so you might as well stop worrying.
|Local, small production vineyard!|
The only place you can really change things is what goes on in and around your own dwelling. You can set good limits and you can set a good example, and that is about it.
In an era of decline, you can learn to use less and make do with less, and just go on with your life in that way. Because, realistically, that is all you can do. You are not going to convince the almond growers to uproot their trees and bankrupt their very profitable imports to China, all in the name of future generations. Not gonna happen. You are not going to convince anyone that there is probably a limit to how deep a well can be dug, and that aquifers that have been around since the glaciers last retreated are not a renewable resource.
So be mindful and do what makes you happy. Yesterday, for instance, I was thrilled to find a nice picnic basket and a used salad spinner at the thrift store, because neither of those things need to be new for me to use and enjoy them.
That picnic basket and salad spinner made me happy because I know nothing new -- not the plastic or the wood -- was culled or made for me to buy it second-hand. And they cost a total of six bucks between the two. Plus it was a sunny day and while a sunny day means no rain, well, that doesn't mean I should feel guilty and not enjoy it. I'm not in charge of when it rains.
Part of this state of being -- the peace of mind before The Great Decline -- comes because, to some extent, I realize we are all being swept along in a human current that we can only swim against so much. So ultimately the descendants of the homesteaders, the off-gridders and the preppers will more than likely share the same future as those of the SUV-gas guzzling, Keurig-cup using, styrofoam plate dining and everything-new demographic, with not much to be done about it.
Your only job is to do what you can, and what will leave you with a clean conscience, knowing you did everything you could. So use less water, but enjoy the sunshine, and, although it seems strange, enjoy being the last generation for whom everything was once possible.