In a lot of ways, 2007 should have been a wake up call for the Southeast, which may be experiencing the most rapid growth in the region's history. That goes double for Georgia, the fastest growing state in the South, because while state officials trumpet Georgia's economic successes – and they are worth trumpeting – something worrisome is happening
It looks like Mother Nature is starting to play her cards.
The year just past is one of the driest on record for Georgia. It's probably the driest in recorded history for Atlanta and Athens, since there's never been less rainfall in those two cities for the period of Jan. 1-Dec. 12 than this year. But it's not just North Georgia that has suffered.
Earlier this year it was Southeast Georgia's turn and that included Bryan County, which was so dry firefighters warned residents not to throw out lit cigarettes or glass bottles – the latter because they had the potential to turn up the sunlight like a magnifying glass and spark a brush fire. And there were a few of those here.
But we've been lucky compared to others. Fires that started in Ware County in April burned almost half a million acres. The drought in North Georgia has Atlanta worrying about running out of drinking water and in October Gov. Sonny Perdue prayed for rain on the steps of the state capitol building.
There's nothing wrong with that. But perhaps Perdue should also pray for a sensible state approach to address the problems Georgians will face in the coming years as the combination of rampant growth and the prospect of a continuing drought puts increasing strain on resources and impacts both quality of life and the environment.
If the governor needs a short list, we're certain there are plenty of good people who may have suggestions – which range from finding a way to do a better job of stewarding the state's waters and better protecting what natural resources are left to pushing for more public transportation.
In the meantime, Georgians can play a role by actively conserving water, driving less and by paying attention to local environmental issues such as the continued destruction of wetlands and the danger development is posing to animal life. And for those who want to get actively involved, there are groups out there that are fighting the good fight for your environment, among them the St.Simons Island-based Center for a Sustainable Coast (www.sustainablecoast.org) and Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper (www.ogeecheecanoocheeriverkeeper.org). They can always use help.
Become a conservationist in 2008. Your grandkids will thank you.
Bryan County News
Jan. 2, 2008