It's not the fact that there's a drought which moves me to splutter, wave my arms about and shake my walking apparatus at passers by (who then, startled, cross the street, stare at my house and start calling someone on the phone - after which, by sheer coincidence, the police often turn up to stare at my house and shake their heads) Oh no.
It's the idea that in the middle of a drought, people are still stupid enough - make that mind-bogglingly THICK, obtuse and reckless enough - to believe that watering their patch of grass is still an acceptable thing to do.
Let's think about this. Water; essential for all life on this planet to survive and prosper, when in short supply, being used to keep gardens looking green. If those gardens contain food plants, it makes good sense to keep them watered (if you haven't already discovered, I'm a fan of food security), but if the garden contains merely a lawn and ornamental flowers/trees etc., such behaviour constitutes nothing less than wilfull waste. Disagree with me? Tough.
Ornamental gardens are UNnecessary. All very attractive I'm sure, but unnecessary. They are preferences, wishes and 'wants', but they are not needed. Ornamental gardens arose from society's desire to harness, control and stylize nature, to bring nature into the home, to make our surrounding idyllic. They are largely responsible for the spread of non-native plant species around the globe (often with detrimental results for the local environment), and they are a huge resource sink. Perhaps chief among the sins is the almost pathological regard many gardeners hold for their lawns.
My home country has in the past been described as a nation of gardeners, and there are certainly a great many painstakingly manicured ornamental gardens and lawns over there. A pristine, uniform lawn is one of the chief elements in which many English gardeners take pride. In order to maintain the perfect lawn, much effort goes into weeding, weed-killing, aerating, trimming, de-mossing and of course, watering.
In a world (don't worry, this isn't a dramatic movie trailer script) where the human population is reaching alarming levels of growth and is therefore beginning to feel the impact of the relative scarcity of fresh water, this kind of practice is complete folly, and I would submit; irresponsible. The upkeep of the perfect suburban lawn, itself an aping of the vast grassy expanses of immodest country houses (but in miniature form) is indefensible when drinking water - for man or animal is scarce. The mighty Columbia River in the western USA is, for example, in dire straights due to the amount of water taken out of it at various points along its length, in particular in the south west, where the city of Phoenix (a city in a jen-you-wine desert) sprinkles and waters its municipal grass verges and allows the resident population of desert-deniers to do likewise. Madness.
I once had the dubious pleasure to fly into Las Vegas (once I got there I couldn't wait to fly out again) and as we descended into the landing I was able to see from the window just how incongruous numerous vivid patches of green appeared. They were of course golf courses...in the desert. As far as the eye could see in every direction there was nothing but desert scrub, but in our wisdom, our species had decided to devote untold millions of litres of water in order to create fields for men and women to hit a ball around with sticks.
The irony, of course, is that grass is perhaps the hardiest plant out there. Among its traits are a willingness to be walked upon, a resistance to being frequently cut down to tiny lengths and of course, an ability to withstand periods of drought. Many people rush to their doctor for a fresh prescription of 'get-out-of-my-consulting-room-candy '(otherwise known as antidepressants) if their lawns turn brown, in complete disregard for the fact that grass turns brown and becomes dormant in drought conditions. Different varieties have different tolerances of course, but grass turning brown does NOT necessarily mean that its dead...
Grass doesn't belong everywhere. the natural vegetation cover for most of the Northern Hemisphere is trees anyway. By fanatically growing the darned stuff, all we're doing is holding back natural growth (or: weeds), damaging local ecosystems and depleting water resources in a way which I'm sure will have our descendants shaking their heads in wonder.
Grass is nice to lie on, pleasing to gambol through (like a spring lamb) and handy if you want to chew on something without actually eating it, while looking like a redneck. It's food for many livestock animals (especially if they're allowed outside to eat it, which is ANOTHER rant) and the genus is the basis for many of our staple foods. If it's food; all well and good, but lawn grass isn't worth ruining the world for.