It’s hard to save the world. So let’s start with saving America. It’s hard to save, too, of course, but I have a plan. Now, if you’re a regular patron of Buffet o’ Blog, you might think this will be silly randomness, but there is an actual actionable plan here layered amongst the randomness. That may seem to not go together, but part of the reason most people don’t save the world is because it is so difficult and it’s hard to think of something you can do that will make a difference. It may seem like there’s not any easy solutions, because most of the “low hanging fruit” of ideas have already been thought of. That’s where thinking outside the box (AKA randomness) helps. But that’s enough intro — let’s get to the meat and potatoes (and gravy — don’t forget the gravy!).
The United States of America is slowly running out of potable water. (Here, potable means safe to drink.) Here’s a link to read about how serious that is and what it all means: Why is America running out of water? Long story short (or TL;DR in modern parlance), it means if we don’t start conserving clean water, we will have major shortages of drinking water. The current filtering process at sewage treatment plants is slow and costly and ineffective. The last part is critical, because current “real-time” filtering methods cannot remove many chemicals like caffeine and medications. We can’t have random medications and drugs in our drinking water — that would get bad quick. You may be wondering about the natural way of filtering water — nature. Of course it is great, but it takes time, and the problem is that America is using water faster than it’s being replenished by nature (and droughts out west hurt this, too). If we the people don’t find a solution on our own, the government will have to force people to conserve water. (We’re already seeing this in Nevada, where lawns in some places are being banned. And the government just announced a deal to get Arizona, California, and Nevada to conserve large amounts of water in exchange for $1.2 billion.)
That’s a lot of seriousness above, probably more than is allowed in a post here, but I want you to know this is a serious problem affecting our country that is on a path to get much worse. So how can we do anything about that by playing video games? The answer has to do with America’s #1 crop. Can you guess the plan yet? It’s not about farming. The number one crop in America is lawns. Millions of people grow lawns. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But it is a luxury — that is, it’s nonessential. Now, I’m not suggesting we get rid of our lawns. I enjoy playing in my yard with my kids. But here’s the angle on it — how green does it need to be? And to tie this with the problem above (don’t forget about the upcoming water shortage), how often do you need to water your yard?
Here’s an article explaining the cost of keeping your yard really green using water and fertilizer. Summary: “grass lawns consume nearly 3 trillion gallons of water a year, 200 million gallons of gas (for all that mowing), and 70 million pounds of pesticides.” Those are some big numbers! You may be tempted to think, “What difference does it make if one person changes their lifestyle?” Well, those big numbers are the total of adding up what each individual person does. We have to start somewhere, and if each person in America conserved merely one gallon per day, it would add up to over 121 billion gallons of water in a year. That would make a huge difference! But if we choose to think it’s not our problem, then the next generation — our children — will have a serious problem to deal with.
I’m not suggesting we let our yards die, but they don’t need to be watered every day or every other day or while it’s raining (which I’ve seen). By watering less often (or not at all), we save billions of gallons of clean water each summer. (On a related note, there is now a push even among lawn designers to leave more weeds because they have an environmental purpose.)
Now what do video games have to do with this? Well, if we water less (or not at all), our yard will grow slower. That’s basic science there. Last year I followed my own advice, and I didn’t even turn on the automatic sprinklers. My front yard didn’t stay as green as my neighbors’ yards during the hot parts of the summer when we don’t get much rain. It certainly didn’t look like a golf course, all well-manicured and dark green. And that’s okay. I didn’t have to mow as often, which was nice. And I was conserving water (and gasoline, too).
Wait, I still didn’t get to the video games! I won’t forget! By mowing less often, that frees up several evenings during the summer. So what will you do with that new free time? Playing video games sounds like fun! Of course, you could use that free time to do other chores, but here’s the problem with that mindset. 1) American adults are typically overworked and stressed already, and video games help with that. 2) If I suggested you could help save America by doing other household chores, you might not be interested in that. Do you really want to save America by cleaning your baseboards more often? Probably not for most people. The key is to make it fun, something people want to do! Would you play more video games if it helped save our great country? You don’t have to be a super zealous patriot to realize that’s a good deal.
So who is with me on this?