Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Drought Mitigation Strategies

I’d just like to start by apologizing to Gordon and anyone else who lives in London who likes the sunshine. I prefer the rain and with the current drought… well, did I mention that I like the rain?

Defining Risks and Issues

In the language of project managers a risk is often defined as “uncertainty that matters”. So the next questions are: what matters and what happens when a risk actually occurs?

The answer to the first is subjective, which is important to consider as the attitude towards risks by stakeholders is, in my opinion, as important as the risk itself.

The answer to the second question is: it becomes an “issue”, i.e. a risk that is now a fact and needs to be dealt with. Risk & Issue mitigation is a fancy way of saying: sort it out!

Drought Mitigation:

At the moment in many parts of the UK there is a drought in effect due to the low amounts of rainfall over the past couple of years. Here is a poster from Thames Water on this topic:

The bit that irks me about this poster is a minor - but to me important - detail: “None of us can make it rain, but we can all use less water”. Well, speak for yourself. Some people do claim to be able to make it rain.

Rain Making Strategies:

Here are some techniques for rain making that every Trainee Golem Builder should know about.
  1. Prayer for Rain 
  2. Choni’s Circle 
  3. Rain Dance 
  4. Elijah’s prayer for rain

Let’s take a brief look at each in turn:

1. Prayer for Rain

This prayer is said at the end of Sukkot (Tabernacles), a pilgrim festival at the end of the harvest season that requests rain for the coming winter. Here is a link to some of the laws. This prayer is said until Pesach (Passover). In a land like Israel that relies on rainfall rather than rivers or lakes to supply water for drinking and agriculture, praying for rain can mean the difference between thriving and surviving.

2. Choni’s Circle

Choni was a Mishnaic sage who lived at the time of the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem. He was a wonder worker who asked God to make it rain by drawing a circle and refusing to move out of it until the right kind of rain fell.

3. Rain Dance

OK, this one is not something I learned from a person or a book but rather developed a knack for at school to get out of playing football. Over the years I’ve improved the technique and miniaturized it to just using one finger. My wife learned the technique too and although she does not believe in magic, her use of the dance has more powerful effects than mine.

4. Elijah’s prayer for rain

In a previous blog posting, I linked to some instructions by Fisdel on how to use Biblical narrative for meditative purposes. This same technique can be used for 1 Kings 18:41-46 to bring about rain.  The main thing I’d like to highlight with this technique is that it does require repetition as evidenced in the narrative.

Which Mitigation Works Best?

I use “1. Prayer for Rain” regularly, but not for the UK - It’s difficult to test the success of this technique so we’ll focus on the next three instead. Technique “2. Choni’s Circle”is not one that I would recommend unless you’re at the same level as Choni. Technique “3. Rain Dance” is relatively straightforward, it just requires trial and error until you find something that works. My advice is to infuse the dance with passion and intent, if nothing else it should be a good workout. Finally technique “4. Elijah’s prayer for rain” is not one that I’ve tried before, I was planning to save that one for later in the year.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Morpheus from the Matrix which hopefully explains the rather sporadic rainfall and hail occurring in London…
“…What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent, others can be broken. Understand?”