Is Brown the New Green?

I’ve been meaning to bring this up for a while. Sometime back I heard one of the incessant and ever present commercials you hear in California these days – about water shortages. A theme that I always find ironic, since we have thousands of miles of coastline with raging water right there. It’s drought season. Oh yeah, that’s right we have to get all vaklemped because we didn’t get enough rain. The ironic thing is that when we have lots of rain, far beyond our ‘normal’ annual rainfall, they are always very quick to point out that this in no way cancels any drought deficits we have built up – despite the fact that several people’s houses are sliding down hills right past their windows. Oh no, we must never admit that we actually have an abundance of anything – if we did, then how the heck would we scare the bageebers out of the general populace? And if we couldn’t do that, how the heck are we going to control them? Anyway, as usual, I digress.

So, I’m listening to this commercial going on about how we must, must, must conserve on water because now that is in short supply (despite the fact that we get most of our water from the Colorado river, eh?) and how we must refrain from watering plants, lawns and other unnecessary green items, so we won’t all die from dehydration or something. And besides, how will we water all those plants growing on the side of the freeways if we actually water our own plants and lawns?

But it got me thinking…don’t you see the irony here? I mean, the whole thrust is that we want to go more green, right? All over the country and perhaps the world, we are hearing about how the trees are all being chopped down and that is going to rip an even bigger hole in the ozone layer (btw, I heard that is actually repairing itself, who knew?) so, yes, let’s plant a lot of trees and get that oxygen level up folks – but ooops, I think trees actually need water in order to grow. In fact, all plants need more water to grow. So if you pull out your lawn and put down concrete, in order to save water, aren’t you contributing to higher ambient temps? Plants and greenery do not conduct heat, so they actually contribute to cooling ambient temps – also they produce water as well, right? Concrete, not so much. See my dilemma here?

So how in the hell does either letting your lawn/plants go to a dry mass of brown contribute to helping to ‘stop global warming’? The answer is it doesn’t. And the truth is, IMHO is that it is not about conservation, preventing global warming or any of that – it is just about control. Apparently we are all so stupid that if anybody throws in the term global warming that we, like Pavlov’s dogs will react and do what we are told. We will not use our own common sense, we will simply believe that we must do our part in battling the impending doom of the planet drying up like a 70 year old virgin. My ass.

And what are we saving the water for? Some guy who fifty years from now is going to be thirsty? I think not. Seriously, if you told a farmer or a gardener that the way to have plants in the future would be to save all their seeds or use as few of them as possible they’d hit you over the head with a rake or tractor or something. Life begets life. Death begets death. If we have to kill the very things that supposedly sustain life on this planet, in order to have a more sound planet and a better quality of life, then sorry I’m just not down with that. Are you? It’s just too stupid for words.

17 thoughts on “Is Brown the New Green?

  1. Here’s my problem with this: most people really do waste tons of water. They run the faucet as they brush their teeth – there goes 2 gallons. Considering there are 23 million of us in good old SoCal, that’s a potential 23-46 MILLION gallons just flushed down the drain that cost us water and energy to get to the faucet. And that’s just brushing your teeth! I mean, REALLY? The average American uses 80 gallons of water a day – 16 times the amount the average citizen of the developing world uses. I’m not saying we should aim for 5 gallons a day, but let’s shoot for 10 or 20 and save ourselves tons of energy and resources! Why not use native plants when landscaping instead of acres of water-guzzling grasses that are only for show? Why not turn off the faucet when you wash your hands, shave or brush your teeth? Simple things make a BIG difference. Like those plants along the freeway: watered with ‘reclaimed water’ – you know, the fresh from the sewage treatment center stuff, not useful for anything other than watering inedible plants.

    Just so you know, Southern California gets more than half our water as an import from the Owens Valley, the Colorado River, and the State Water Project. In fact, there have been several problems with our neighboring states because we’re consuming more than our fair share, causing environmental, political and social problems to those we siphon from. We are consuming so much that only 30-40% of our water is actually ours! C’mon, you don’t think that’s sad? Over-consumption to the detriment of ourselves and our neighbors?

    And the reason those houses are sliding down the mountainsides when it does rain? The ground is so dry, so hard from the drought that the water runs right off of it instead of being absorbed into the earth and then distilled into ground water. It just flows off and becomes run-off, entirely unusable for human consumption.

    We don’t have to kill the very plants that support life – we must to rethink the way we’re living and making ours. We need to live in accordance to our environment and stop acting like we have unlimited resources when we don’t. We can live a modern and balanced life if only people thought about what they are doing instead of, for example, taking clean running water for granted.

    Hey You! How are you? How’s the new girl? Good I hope.

    Okay, here we go…first of all, I don’t think you and I disagree as much as you may think we do. But I have to say that your entire argument is from the viewpoint of scarcity. Two thirds of this planet is covered with water, you don’t see the irony of someone saying we don’t have enough water? As to comparing water usage of western countries to developing countries to me doesn’t hold. Talk about running scarcities on people most developing nations are so oppressed and denied the most normal and basic of things that they are barely making it. And that is not the result of a country like America (for example) having resources and using them or having the ability to use them. That is the result of their own governments controlling the resources and denying them to their citizens in an effort to control them. Which is kind of my point here.

    The reason those houses are sliding down hillsides is not because the ground is so hard (and even if it were, isn’t the solution plants/water?) it is because the ground can only absorb so much and then the runoff begins. In fact, grass, plants, trees all help to absorb that extra water and keep the ground moist and alive so there will be less run off and erosion.

    Yes, I mentioned in this very post that we get much of our water from the Colorado river, and if it is causing problems for neighboring states then why are they selling it to us? Doesn’t make any sense business wise or survival wise. I am very doubtful that that is the whole truth. Sorry, just not buying it. But again that is my point – we have so much water here that we don’t reclaim, that we don’t reprocess that we could. You and I can’t make that happen, we leave up to our government to do so and their solution is to make you and me feel guilty about consuming water, rather than using the water we have by the above means. See my point?

    Any gardener, farmer or plant knowledgeable person will tell you that pretty much anywhere native plants are used for landscaping, planting etc. for the very simple reason that it is too difficult to try to grow plants in conditions in which they will not grow. Also too, it is very in SoCal that you will see any lawn that is water guzzling since the only thing that will grow out here is drought resistant grass. And I disagree that lawns are useless and just for show – again, they help to prevent erosion, enrich the soil, encourage a whole ecosystem of insect life, provide oxygen and keep all that dust and dirt out of the air we breathe. So, nope, I don’t see lawns as a waste of resources at all. I actually see them as a resource that does exchange with the environment.

    Anyway, likely we won’t find a common ground on this matter – but once again my point is not that we should just dump everything down the drain in some sort of display of arrogance but that the solution is not make a controlled group of individuals greatly alter their habits and consumption while those enforcing such rules do nothing to solve the problem in the ways you suggest.

    Thanks for the lively debate.



  2. Annie, just to play devil’s advocate for a moment…

    Perhaps if the plants and grasses that are native to regions are used then we wouldn’t need to worry about this, but when you look at Las Vegas for example – a city in the middle of the desert where people have perfectly green lawns, that’s just f*cked up. And isn’t most of southern California a desert-like climate?

    Hey Alex,
    Actually we do use plants native to the environment. Even drought resistent grass. As to southern California being a desert – well it was once but it’s been cultivated for so many decades that no, I wouldn’t call it that now. There certainly are desert regions but the area I live in for example, is in the foothills of a huge mountain range.

    I can’t really speak to Las Vegas – I don’t know what they grow, where they get their water or how they manage things – so no data there.

    My point was not that we should do nothing – my point is that the very people who tell us ‘not’ to do this and that, offer no solutions and are hypocrites. In SoCal, we have thousands of miles of coastline – the technology for desalinization has been around for decades – yet we don’t take advantage of that, instead we buy water from neighboring states. Doh! Rainwater they allow to just wash back into the ocean rather than setting up systems to catch it and use it. You see. I have to adjust my habits, I have to stop using water, they don’t have to do anything to solve it – their solution is to make me change. This is my point. See what I mean?



  3. Planting natives appropriate to our area is one thing that could be done. Turning off the tap when we brush our teeth is another.

    Living in an area that is fast approaching its 11th year of drought we don’t worry about the lawns too much, but we do do our damndest to keep the trees alive and keep our vege gardens going using what ever water we can recyle via rain water tanks, grey water hoses, buckets in the showers etc.

    There are as many opinions as assholes in the world about how to best go about conserving our natural resources and I don’t think that giving people a list of things they ‘mustn’t’ do is the answer. I just think we need to get savier about our choices with how we use our water.

    Ah, a woman after my own heart. Hear, hear, Bettina. I think that there are plenty of savvy ideas and solutions but that would require those who like to tell us what to do to actually do something themselves. It’s much easier to just make us feel guilty for having the audacity to live and consume anything for God’s sakes (how dare we) than for them to get off their lead asses and solve the problem which would only require implementation. No, that tax revenue is earmarked for limo drivers, nannies, chefs and private planes for our public servants. The hypocrisy drives me mad.

    LOL – so much for keeping light around here, eh? πŸ˜†


  4. OMG you would so get along with the Lion on this one. He incessantly waters our gardens (completely ignoring water restrictions) and every freakin’ tap, faucet, hose, in the house leaks. It bothers me, BUT we have amazing gardens. I think we’ll have to work on a compromise. He can water to his hearts content as longs as no water escapes when it isn’t given express permission to do so.

    LOL Panther –
    Well, I don’t incessantly water my gardens, I try to only water them when they need it. As to the leaks, simple washer replacements should solve that – maybe get a handyman in there if the Lion doesn’t know how to change them? πŸ˜‰

    My friend Zelda, has set things up at her place so all her grey water is recyled to her plants and lawns – it’s not an easy thing – but it can be done – maybe the Lion would be interested in doing something like that? Naw, probably not, eh?

    Another solution is to water the garden by hand – not efficient in terms of time but probably better for the plants as most plants will grow mold/fungus if you water the foilage too much. Anyway, I suppose you don’t need my gardening tips, eh?



  5. Wow. Well put! I’ve been thinking along the same lines as you.

    I just don’t know how I feel about Global Warming. Is it real? Is it phony? Is it man made? It is Earths cycle? I don’t know. But dammit I am going to water my lawn. If the end of the world is coming, then my grass is going to look good for the apocolypse.

    Hey Dave and welcome to my little dive. Global warming and cooling for that matter is real – it has been a phenom of this planet for its entire existence as far as I can ascertain. The phony part comes into play (for me) when people try to convince me that it is man made or created. To me, the idea that the last fifty years have more greatly affected the cycle (due to man and his evil, selfish ways) than anything else is beyond absurd – it hasn’t been proven by any stretch of the imagination. And frankly it’s pretty damn illogical.

    Nothing wrong with a nice lawn. LOL. And absolutely if the apocolypse is coming, we might as well look purty for it. Never know when those photo ops are going to present themselves, eh?

    Thanks for coming by.



  6. Wow – lots of good points being brought up here. I do think we are more wasteful but most of us are so busy in the rat race that it is up to others to find solutions that are easy and affordable enough for us to put into use. I love the Japanese idea of using bathroom sink water to fill the toilet and I love my rain barrel to use rainwater on my vegetable garden without running my hose. Of course this is small scale but it could be done bigger. And I do think there is some bit of fear mongering and control going on like you said, Annie.

    Hey Teens,
    I agree, I would have much less on it – if they proposed solutions other than chastising and guilting people into it. Our tax dollars at work, eh? And absolutely we can do things on a small scale. Though many wouldn’t believe it I use everything – I throw very little away – vegetable matter goes back in the garden, recyclables get turned in, even leftover water from the dog dish goes on the lawn. See, I’m not a big meanie. πŸ˜†


  7. We are also in drought, although unlike Bettina I don’t think that Sydney has had 11 years of drought. We have water restrictions in force which mean that we can hose 2 days per week and they have only just changed it so that we can wash cars with a hose with a trigger nozzle on it. Before that we had to use buckets or watering cans. Not because it saves water (it actually uses more) but because it makes it so bloody difficult that people don’t do it. Voila, thousands of litres of water saved.

    I do agree that especially in places like SoCal and Australia, water is a precious resource and we need to do what we can to save it. But I agree the hypocrisy is what drives me nuts too.

    We do have schemes where we get rebates from Sydney water if we install water tanks, buy low water consuming washing machines and we can get water saving shower heads and toilet cisterns installed. I think that it would be better if there was more of a positive attitude and education in regards to saving water rather than penalising us and treating us like idiots.

    We have a lawn and at the moment it is brown. We do however water the trees and plants to keep them alive, but only on the days that we can hose.

    And don’t start me on the stupid, stupid de-sal plant that the NSW govt are building at the moment. Bloody idiots they are.

    Oh Lord, Gem – shades of yesterday your words bring back to me. We went through that a few years back and it’s miserable – talk about brown, the whole state was brown. We used to get incentives for things like you mention – now they are essentially required – cost three to four times as much as the previous types – pay four times what we used to for water, get less of it and then get yelled at for using it. How’s that for losing proposition? And excuse me, have we stopped global warming here? Ah…no.

    Yeah, the hypocrisy is the thing. Because we could solve most of these problems if the bozos who are always screaming about it, actually did something. What are we paying all these fricking taxes for, words? I think so. Man, those are some expensive words.



  8. Drought here too (Colorado). Every conservation method above is in wide use here, so I won’t repeat. The Colorado River originates here (duh!). Considering all the desert between Colorado and SoCal, it’s a wonder you guys get any water at all at your end (and most years it runs dry before reaching the Gulf of Calif.) Meantime, Las Vegas, Phoenix, etc., located arbitrarily in the middle of the desert, keep pouring water on their innumerable green golf courses. Logic dictates something has to change.
    (Still, I’m as guilty as the next guy in trying to keep my little patch of lawn alive.)

    Hey 30!
    Yeah, I hear you. Again, for me, it’s not a matter of having a problem with trying to be more ecologically sound – it is a matter of being able to. They make it so very difficult to do that and then punish us because they won’t do a damn thing. Maddening.

    Do Nevada and Arizona also get water supply from Colorado river? I hadn’t heard of that. With all the retirees in those locations, I’m not surprised they have golf courses though. What the hell else are you going to do in 1,000 degree weather?

    And again, I have to say I don’t see keeping a lawn alive as a bad thing – it does give back to the environment and contributes, so why the chastising? I have much more difficulty with putting up another fucking mini mall or other concrete structure, which contributes nothing to anything, except perhaps some money in somebody’s pocket – and adds to the retained heat. I say ban the mini malls and support the lawns. πŸ˜‰


  9. Does any-one know why ants farting affects Global Warming. I might be way of key here, some-one just told me a story one day.

    Ants Farting affects Glomal Warmimg. Urmm !! I think I believd it when they told but but I can’t remember what they told me.

    Love Di

    LOL Di, I had no idea ants could fart.


  10. My point is, use the water to drown the ants, no more farting – no more Global Warming. Somert like that.


    Also too, put your old coffee grounds around their hills – I guess the caffiene makes them crazy or farty, not sure which. πŸ˜‰


  11. Checking the Wikipedia map, it looks like Las Vegas may not actually draw from the Colorado, so plug in Palm Springs. Same difference. I don’t know how far that Colorado water gets piped, but when the river that carved the Grand Canyon now runs dry before it can reach the ocean, I think it’s worth worrying about.

    Hey 30 – well call me crazy but I don’t think Palm Springs is nearly the size of Vegas – it’s pretty small actually – though maybe they mean the whole slew of desert towns in that general area there are quite a few scattered out that way.

    Well, it seems utterly illogical to me then that they would sell us their water in the first place then. These people don’t seem to have the sense God gave them. Lordy.


  12. i am all about the native plants ~ green savannah lawns aren’t native plants (here at least) and yet we are all slaves to the lawn. more and more of us are filling our yards with native plants, plants that are green and flourish and reseed and are beautiful without using a ton of water … on the other side of the equation, i actually don’t have to water much, once a week for about a half hour, and my front lawn stays green. there is also grey water and we have rain barrels which we generally use for garden watering.

    i think it isn’t what we do or don’t do, its about thinking about what we do or don’t do and figuring out what makes the most sense without going to extremes, imho

    Yes, natives plants are good – though I do think a lot of people just don’t know how to think with it, you know? I doesn’t matter to me if someone has a lawn or native plants I just don’t want any more damn concrete – I’d live on the sidewalk if that were my druthers, you know? πŸ˜‰

    Yeah no one makes it simple, I agree and that is the hard thing about it.


  13. Yes, the ones that like to tell us what to do are the least likely to get off their butts and ‘do’ themselves and it’s the thing that ticks me off the most.

    I just LURV how the politicians all start talking about water and ‘drought proofing’ the nation when it looks like next seasons crop might fail, but as soon as we get an inch of rain (not enought to break the drought though) they proclaim that the rains are coming (praise the Lord and pass the peanut butter!)and forget all about it.

    But then, I live on the wrong side of the great divide. All the focus is on Sydney’s dwindling catchment dams. Never mind that the dam that supplies our community (and several others down the river) with water has dwindled to around 10% capacity for the start of this summer and last year started at 18% before ending the summer at 7%. That’s some scary maths aye?

    I’d really, really, really like to know how Sydneys de-salination plant will solve the long term drought problems in rural areas.

    And all this just goes to prove that our politicians are as stupid as yours πŸ˜‰ lol

    You know Bettina,
    I like you more and more with each comment you make. Yah! It’s what ticks me off too. People too, they vote for them and believe them. How dumb is that? I vote based on who will do the least harm – I haven’t believed a politician’s promises in a long time.

    LOL – praise the lord and pass the peanut butter.

    Yes dear, I hate to be the one to confirm this but ours are as bad as yours. No Messiahs, no change, no nothing different – biz as usual. πŸ˜‰


  14. Is this where I mention that it’s supposed to rain in my home town on the prairie for the next six freaking days?

    (And we’re already 7 inches above normal for the year; last year was the wettest on record, although records didn’t start until the 1890s.)

    Hey CG – is your blog okay now? I went a couple of times but it look liked there was some parts missing.

    Yeah, this is the place to complain about the drought. I just talked to my bud Zelda who is in Texas on business and said they are anticipating a hurricane that is the width of the whole state of Texas. The whole state. Yep – dry spell.


  15. I always thought grass for yards was a dumb idea. It takes too much work, chemicals and water just too look and feel like it is “supposed too.” If I had my way, I’d live far away from suburbia, with a yard full of native plants, in our case prairie type plants, and not worry about it so much. I’ll admit that I love soft grass, but I think I’d rather look at a field of wildflowers.

    I wish I still had the email that circulated around that was about God and St. Peter talking about grass and how stupid it was.

    Oh I like lawns – they are pretty and cool the yard after sundown but I also love your prairie idea – I’d love to live out in the country – I sort of do now, small town near the mountains – but the idea of just having lots of empty space around and fields of wild flowers sounds pretty darn nice to me.



  16. Thanks Annie. I’m very much enjoying being involved in the discussions on your blog πŸ™‚ though I must admit to pinching the ‘Praise the Lord and pass the peanut butter’ line from Widdle Shamrock πŸ˜‰ lol

    Hey Bettina,
    Then we’re agreed, we’re both having fun here. That Widdle…she is a pissah, eh? πŸ˜†


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