Blog

Cloud over a Bucolic Field at Sunset

Cloud Over a Bucolic Field at Sunset

Cloud Over a Bucolic Field at Sunset

On my way back to Micanopy from Rainbow Springs, I was stopped in my tracks by this scene. There was a small bridge with a short, narrow extra lane and I put my car in park and got out in the middle of the roadway.  I couldn't help myself.  The composition was stunning and it spoke deeply to my heart.  It was so metaphorical too.

As is becoming evident every day, agriculture is putting more and more of a strain on our water resources in Florida.  In fact, the Sustainable Technology Forum recently posted results of a comprehensive analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, which indicated that farming tops the list for the thirstiest industry (http://sustainabletechnologyforum.com/in-top-10-list-of-thirstiest-industries-farming-rules_14127.html).  Cows contribute more greenhouse gasses than other livestock (beef 2.2% and dairy 1.37% versus .47% for chickens).  Cows also drink a lot more water, with a lactating cow consuming up to 170 pounds per day. (http://www.caes.ucdavis.edu/news/articles/2016/04/livestock-and-climate-change-facts-and-fiction/http://www.dairyherd.com/nutritionist-e-network/qa/q-how-much-water-would-dairy-cow-drink).

Water is being withdrawn from the springs in Florida at unsustainable levels and it is of grave concern to scientists monitoring flow. Nevertheless, it is probably unrealistic to expect everyone on the planet to give up all dairy. (I personally don't eat meat, but I do drink organic cream in my coffee. I could stop, but I haven't yet.) Given that people need to eat and crops need water, and people also need water to drink it is understandable that agriculture and water usage have and always will be inextricably linked.  Instead of villainizing all farmers, it would seem to be a better use of time and energy to encourage better farming practices, and to shift production or breeding to a mix of fewer water intensive species. The public also needs to be educated on where their food comes from and at what cost to the environment.  As a society, we have become too detached from the resources that support us, so we aren't fully aware of the detrimental impact of our choices.  

In past centuries, farming was not on such a mass scale.  When I stopped to photograph this scene, it made me feel very nostalgic for a time when our footprint was more natural we did not have to worry as much about the impact eating and drinking by humans and animals has on the planet.  Certainly smaller sized farms seem more harmonious with the landscape, but that is not the trend.