Thursday, November 15, 2007
Thirsting for Water
On Tuesday, with Bibles and crucifixes held aloft, hundreds of church ministers, lawmakers, unemployed landscapers and office workers, swayed and linked arms in a special prayer service for rain outside the Georgia Capitol. Sonny Perdue, governor of Georgia publicly prayed for a downpour.
A drought tightens its grip across a wide region, which includes much of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida. The government's "drought monitor" says that 32 per cent of the region is in "exceptional drought", its most severe designation. The first five months of this year were the driest in 118 years of record-keeping by the Tennessee Valley authority.The US drought is now so acute that, in some southern communities, the water supply is cut off for 21 hours a day
Atlanta is a teeming city of more than three million residents . Thanks to profligate water consumption and drought, they may have no drinking water at all by January as the city's only source of drinking water, Lake Lanier, is running critically low. The reservoir's water must be shared by three neighbouring states. Soon the level will be lower than when it was built in the 1950s. The state's leaders are also bickering, with Mr Perdue threatening to go to court to reduce the amount of water sent south from Lake Lanier to Florida. The amount of water flowing to Florida's Apalachicola river was cut by 16 per cent . Although scientists do not know how long it will take for the environmental damage to become irreversible in Apalachicola, Florida state officials recently warned against an agreement between Alabama, Georgia and Florida that would have reduced water to the area.
In spite of the drought, Georgia now wants to build a new coal-powered plant that will suck away another 25 million extra gallons of water . Southern Company, a huge electrical utility that wields huge influence all the way to the White House. More than any other company, Southern has been responsible for steering President George Bush away from action to halt global warming. It has done so by spreading largesse – $8m (£4m) on contributions to politicians in the past nine years, an amount far outweighing the political contributions of any other utility. Sonny Perdue has received large campaign contributions from Southern executives and even hired his chief of staff from its subsidiary, Georgia Power. Georgia's state assembly recently organised a climate change summit in which three of the four experts invited were global-warming sceptics.
Governor Perdue , bowed his head and beseeched to the Almighty "We have come together, very simply, for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm. We ask God to shower our state, our region, our nation with the blessings of water "
But what's going to happen to Atlanta where millions of people are running out of water?
What are they going to do if the rains don't come?