Will this generation see the end of grassy lawns?
The state of California is going through a pretty nasty drought. If you haven’t had a chance to see this collection of images you really owe it to yourself. During this drought a lot of people were ranting about the ice bucket challenge because of how wasteful it was. I admire people wanting folks to be considerate but I feel like the scale of the drought is just beyond comprehension.
Western US has seen a deficit of 63 Trillion Gallons of Fresh Water. That’s 63,000,000,000,000 gallons. To put that in some kind of perspective the average ice bucket challenge uses less than 5 gallons of water (unless the people doing it are using machinery to lift the water over their head, larger buckets get pretty heavy in and of themselves). Heck if we even double that amount that means you’d need 6.3 Trillion people to do the bucket challenge with 10 gallons a piece just to match the current drought. Seeing as the population of the entire planet is not much above that it seems unlikely that all the ice bucket people in the world have actually had any impact on fresh water waste.
If the entire US did it it would have an impact so small that no single state would even notice it. That isn’t to say that people should waste water. But the impact of this challenge is literally inconsequential. Now what about showers? Using an older shower head you are looking at 5 gallons per minute, newer models are probably putting out half that much or even less [some fancier models might be using as much or more than 5 gallons however]. This seems like a lot by comparison to the ice bucket challenge. I know personally if I take a shower I am done within 5 minutes, usually 3. But I have the benefit of being a fairly thin guy that doesn’t get very odorous easily. Regardless taking showers is a respectable amount of water but it at least serves a purpose and that water is being reclaimed in your drain.
There is somewhere out in the everyday world that burns through water in ways that make deserts envious. According to Today’s Home Owners you are looking at .623 gallons of water per square foot of lawn. That doesn’t sound to bad until you realize the average lawn is about .22 acres large in the US. Ok, you might be saying, what the hell is an acre? Apparently an acre is 43,560 square feet. Well that’s a fuck ton of square feet. If we take .22 of that (or 22%) we are looking at 9,583.2 square feet. I ran that through their handy dandy calculator and it returned a whopping 5,862 gallons of water necessary for the average US lawn every single time you water it. That’s a nearly 20 hour long shower, if you were curious. So the next time you feel bad for showering just remember at least that served a purpose.
According to Yardmap the average usage per lawn per person would come out to about 200 gallons. With a population of 313.9 million that’s 62.7 billion gallons of water that is used for no other reason than to make some useless plants green. I thought to myself that this sounded preposterously high, then I checked in on the EPA. As of 2000 we were using 43 billion gallons of water per day. It’s been 14 years since that report and at the rate of increase it doesn’t seem unreasonable that we’d be between 50 and 60 billion gallons of water.
Naturally farms and factories use a lot more water than your average person. But it would appear that lawns are eating up billions of gallons of water while contributing nothing but perpetuating a silly memory of what “suburban life” is supposed to be. So with that (and some incredibly poor math) out of the way I want to get to the crux of this whole thing.
I think lawns are basically boned. Much like calling your coworkers sugar tits or having separate fountains, the American lawn is going to fall to history and with enough time I think it’ll be remembered as comical. People wasted all that water just to make a non-indigenous plant grow in places it shouldn’t? For what? Did they eat it? No? Did anything eat it? Basically no? Was there something perfectly fine as an alternative everywhere it was present? Man…crazy. Our ancestors were psychotic.
Resources are going to become rather scarce for a short period of time in the not-too-distant future. In that period of transition between the old antiquated versions of business and the newer more humane choices that will ultimately replace them. Their death throws will not be gentle and they will strongly overstay their welcome. During that time it will no longer be tens of dollars to water your lawn, it’ll likely climb to the hundreds. At this point laws will change and you will most likely see the end of grass.
The only thing that could save it at this point is a genetically engineered strain that thrives on nearly no water or one that converts our thoughts into rainbows and fresh water. I can’t say that I’ll miss it. I’m not angry at lawns, they never did anything to me, but for the life of me I’ve never understood them.