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CCFB News» December 2018

Downwind"Dihydrogen Monoxide"

12/01/2018 @ 7:30 am | By Bob Rohrer, CAE,FBCM,Manager

I have read some disturbing information about dihydrogen monoxide, also known as "hydroxylic acid". It is accelerating corrosion and causing suffocation on a global scale. The product, used frequently in industrial and chemical processes, has been found in many local city water pipes.  It can cause severe burns and is purported to contribute to the greenhouse effect.  Yikes!  Ban it, regulate it, label it!


That’s my brief use of the parody on “WATER” that was made famous in the 1980s and 90s based on the public’s lack of scientific knowledge and fear-mongering.  The cries for banning, regulating and labeling the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide seemed silly then.  Today, with fear mongering at historic levels and with calls to label everything, maybe not so silly now.


After writing last month’s column on the importance of soil as a basic ingredient for agriculture in the “Older than Dirt” column (thanks to the many of you who agreed that I am older than dirt), I started thinking about another important farm ingredient, WATER. 


Everyone learns the importance of water and the water cycle in grade school (that’s where I also learned about global cooling). However, I confess that I take water for granted each day.  


Please indulge me as I try to think broader than my usual self…

  • All known forms of life on Earth require WATER to live (including politicians)
  • WATER provides plant growth which generates oxygen (daily breath is useful)
  • WATER is crucial to the world economy, including power generation, transportation, entertainment, and most definitely agriculture (and trout)
  • WATER is required for most food processing (Pringles and jambalaya!)
  • WATER enhances cleanliness for washing clothes (Hot showers may be the greatest invention of mankind…right before the invention of ice cubes)
  • WATER is used for fire extinction (crucial right now with wildfires in California)
  • WATER is important in many sports, like swimming, sailing, surfing, hockey, kayaking, water polo (and slip-n-slides)
  • WATER brings life and health to living organisms in millions of shapes and sizes (mosquitoes?)
  • WATER provides many political activities (save the whales)
  • WATER provides great environmental beauty (Mrs. Rohrer says WATERfalls)


Obviously, if you don’t have dihydrogen monoxide, you can’t farm. When you think of farming meccas, do you ever think of the Sahara Desert, Gobi Desert, Mojave Desert, Kalahari Desert, Arabian Desert and don’t forget Antarctica (plenty of WATER there, I guess).


WATER is the “difference maker” as an important basic ingredient for agriculture.  WATER was life-and-death for livestock growing up on the Rohrer family farm. Winters were so difficult with animals on pasture. I remember the Farmer sending me out on many subzero days in my youth to deal with frozen WATER systems, broken pipes and iced over WATER tanks. I couldn’t feel my fingers, toes, ears, nose or face cheeks but the Farmer would remind me that the livestock’s comfort needed to come before my own.


And we silly humans try to control this powerful force known as WATER.  We manage WATER up to a point with our dams and irrigation and sump pumps and plumbing and purification systems, but WATER eventually has its way. Droughts leave plants withering. Floods destroy crops quicker. Hail wipes out acres in a matter of minutes. Dams and levees break. Basements flood. Pipes freeze and break.  WATER wins!


I read that the Illinois River will be closed to traffic in 2020 to repair a number of the lock and dam systems that are long overdue. The river of moving WATER is used to transport agricultural goods from Illinois to the world as well as used to bring commodities and bulk materials from throughout the world to the Chicagoland area.  Do we consider the importance of WATER for agricultural transportation and how it impacts us locally?


One does not just flip a switch or turn a knob to shut off a river for repairs, right?


Enough WATER thought … now I will make a trip to the bathroom.


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