Finally in Britain we’re getting the kind of weather that makes us feel like we deserve the drought orders that we’ve been having. It always feels to me a particularly un-British thing that we aren’t able to collect rain properly. I mean – rain? Rain is kind of what we’re famous for!
But actually we’re famous for invention too and so in many ways we’ve been hoisted by our own petards.* (To see how the umbrella was invented: See
Who invented the cocktail umbrella?)
The thing is that we don’t keep very much of the water that we do collect. Most of it seems to leak away because we were so early with the invention of pipes and water systems these water systems are now starting to look a bit worse for wear.
The worst news is that while we’ve had the driest winter for a million years (or thereabouts) we’ve also had one of the wettest springs. The reason that this doesn’t work out for us is that by the time all of the rain showed up the trees and plants were already in full flow and so they’ve been taking all of our water.
What this tends to mean is that the trees and plants will end up doing really well this year, which in turn will mean that there will be more food for the vegetarian animals which in turn means there will be more food for the carnivore (and omnivore animals) which means that more animals will drink more water which means there will be even less for us.
The only problem is that we’ve detached ourselves from the regular food chain, so the fact that there would be a bumper amount of animals this year which should yield us with more water (meat contains water, and the more bounteous the meat the easier it is to kill therefore using less water) doesn’t get to affect us.
The whole meat and vegetable production has been taken out of the normal food chain by farming. But water supply is something that we’re still susceptible to. We can always make more animals and plant if we put our mind to it – we believe – because all you need to do is replicate a food chain. The one problem is that there is only one thing that you can’t avoid. Water. You need water every step of the way and we can’t replicate that.
* By the way Petards** are bombs. So being hoisted by your own petard is to be thrown by your own bomb***
** It is also French for farts.
*** It’s from Hamlet – Poor Yorick****
**** I knew – Ed*****
***** I thought your name was Horatio – Ed Harris