As Summer rages on with the grilling of Mother Earth, some of the inhabitants of this planet are left high and dry by the hot, dry weather, while others are drenched in everlasting rain and wind. One thing is obvious: Mother Earth is changing; whether for better or worse is yet to be seen. but while Nature take its anger out on us for whatever we had done to her, let us put into a short list of the hurt we have caused her, and try to reflect on what we can do to appease the Mother.
If the following Yahoo News article is exemplary of the dangerous repercussion on overusing a certain resource, then it would be better that we take heed of the
early warning signs and do something to remedy the situation. For those who do not know what groundwater is, the simplest definition by Wikipedia states that:
Groundwater (or ground water) is the water located beneath Earth’s surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. – Wikipedia
While it gives you a general idea of what ground water can do, it does not provide detail information on the effects of depleting and polluting groundwater. While researching on the effects it have on the piece of land, the author came across an interesting Jstor article which details the effects of groundwater depletion on vegetation. For the masses who finds the information too much for digestion, the author here managed to digest it into simple anatomy explanation that hopefully readers can understand.
Imagine the earth as a joint in any part of your body. The surface represents the skin, underground water as the synovial fluid, tectonic crusts as your joint cartilage, and the bone, muscle and ligaments are your mantle where gravitational fluxes are generated, and most probably what causes Mother Earth to rotate as she has always been doing. As with what synovial fluid does for your joint to allow easy movement and reduces friction, the purpose of groundwater is to create this cushion to prevent overheating and preventing desertification on the surface. it also helps with plant nourishment from deep within, just as it helps with nourishment of your skin, preventing dryness from the inside of your body. what happens when you overuse groundwater? it’s like removing the synovial fluid from your joints, making your joint movements painful and wearing down the more brittle parts of your joints such as the bone and causing skin dryness on the surface, just the same with the depletion or pollution of groundwater. When groundwater is gone or poisoned, the surface which we walk on will slowly heat up, thereby drying up the remaining moisture left on the surface, killing essential nutrients and therefore other life forms, until all nourishment is completely gone, and only sand is left. The end product: Desert.
The author brainstormed on some ways that people affected by the desertification of their land from groundwater lose, can do to remedy the problems they had created (directly or indirectly). One of the ways is to replenish the lost groundwater with replacement fluid. But the replacement fluid needs to adhere to the needs of environmental sustainability. Desalinated water is one possible move that authorities can use to replace the lost groundwater. It may lack in certain nutrients that is required for plant growth but at least it is not devoid of pesticides and other poisonous fluid. Another idea is using collected rainwater to be channeled back into the affected ground. Since this was the original cycle of water movement, and human intervention somehow broke this precious cycle, it is only right to mend the error. But all these are far-fetched ideas until the Authorities realize the importance of re-balancing the ecosystem to sustain their very own lives and their future.
Urban Heat Island
Before this term was finally found, the author had a general idea that the surrounding bricks and metal building that lines almost every inch of cities, big or small, have a part in the continued rising temperature as well as weather patterns of their surrounding environment. This coupled with the amount of vehicles that runs around the space, as well as the fumes that bellows from out of factory chimneys, all have an impact with the weather changes that everyone have been experiencing. After some researching, the term Urban Heat Island of UHI is found to define this phenomenon. But what exactly is UHI?
UHI is defined as:
“Changes occur in their landscape. Buildings, roads, and other infrastructure replace open land and vegetation. Surfaces that were once permeable and moist become impermeable and dry. These changes cause urban regions to become warmer than their rural surroundings, forming an “island” of higher temperatures in the landscape”
As the term suggests, heat that is absorbed by the metal and stone made parts, covered roads and pathways, increases surface temperature by a couple degrees of the surrounding area. As explained by this webpage.
This is possibly one of the main reasons why temperatures are increasing especially in urbanized areas.
As the city expands, so does the temperature across the mass of land. Taking that from a local perspective (in Singapore), the more buildings erected, the more roads paved, the hotter the surrounding temperature of the area. So how can we change to reduce this UHI?
Greenery on the Roof
When the author was travelling around the older estates in Singapore, a number of buildings have either a flat rooftop, or slanted metal roofing. Most of the time, water tanks, and some essential facility machinery can be found on the rooftop. But basically these materials that make up the roof area are usually good absorbers of heat, working much like an oven.
In fact, there has been a report just a year ago, about the government’s initiative to set a greener example, and the author agrees with this move. Because indeed, without these green roof, the city will continue to see a steady rise in ambient temperature as the years go by. But the question here lies: How long will it take for the city to complete converting a major percentage of metal and mortar roofs to a green roof? And are there more that can be done to further reduce heat retention within the city?
The author might suggest further extending the greenery to not just on the roof, but perhaps on the side walls of the buildings as well (without obstructing the windows). cascading plants like the Hedera species or the vines species can not only beautify the building, but it also helps reduce the heat absorbed by the building by providing shade to the building walls. Furthermore, it can also help reduce carbon footprint by natural photosynthesis.
In any case, the author hopes the idea gets better broadcast, and more can be done to help reduce emitted heat to cool Earth down. Any part played by the community affects the society and the country as a whole. All it takes is a little concern on every individual’s part.