Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Water Water Everywhere and Disappearing

It’s a pretty common understanding that our Earth has lots and lots of water. 97% of the Earth’s water is salt water found in our oceans and seas. The remaining 3% is fresh water that can be used by humans, plants and animals. If this percentage seems quite small then consider the fact that only 1/3 of this fresh water is flowing in our lakes, rivers, forests and bodies. 2/3 of the Earth’s fresh water is frozen in the polar ice caps. Of the 1% of this useable water a large percentage of this if locked beneath the surface of the Earth in the underground aquifers. WOW!!! Our water supply seems almost limitless but when you realize how limited it really is it becomes clear that our water is so very precious.

That was the focus of discussion at a water forum that Joanne and I went to last Sunday afternoon at London’s downtown library.

A group of concerned activists featured an environmental film entitled ‘Blue Gold: World Water Wars’ and it was a very informative film. As most films of this nature play out, we were first introduced to the negative aspects of our water usage. We learned how our over consumption of this resource has led us to a state of global crisis. We were shown examples of how this misuse has led to the creation of man made deserts – here in North America as well as other parts of this world. We were shocked to realize that some ‘poor’ countries are poor because of the pressures that our governments have placed on their economies.

For example: There is a country, in South Africa, that has been a desert for many decades. This desert was created because this country was oppressed by ‘our’ governments and then forced to cut down most of their virgin forestlands to pay off their growing debts. Without these forestlands the rains wash across the bare lands that have become hard and dried and wash into the seas carrying with them the topsoil that is needed for their crops. To ‘help’ this country, our nations have gone in with drilling techniques to allow them to extract water from the underground aquifers. This has led to the draining of these aquifers and many regions have witnessed enormous sinkholes as the ground above has collapsed. The water that is pulled from the ground does not go to the people of this country and it does not go to the crops that feed these people. It goes into forced agricultural industries that continue to be exported throughout the world. I was amazed to learn that the largest producers of roses is this country. They produce massive quantities of these flowers for the sole purpose of export. It requires 17 gallons of water to produce one dozen roses. Once these roses have been exported, so to has all of this water that is stored in the pedals and stems.

Just when I was beginning to feel so overwhelming depressed, the film began to showcase many examples of heroes that have won battles to preserve and protect this most valuable resource. Most of the heroes were children!!!

There was a story about a young boy – now a teenager – who became concerned when he learned at school, that thousands of children die everyday because they don’t have clean water. This just seemed ‘wrong’ to him. He wanted to make a positive difference. He initiated a fund raising campaign – with the help of his family and teachers – and they raised enough money to build a water well in a community that had no clean water. To this day, he continues to be a shining example for the rest of his community.

There was another young boy that became concerned when a large company built a water bottling company in his community. The water levels in all the surrounding lakes had dropped – thus affecting all the plants and animals that lived in these waters. The pollution that this company created in manufacturing their product did nothing to enhance this region – quite the opposite. And – as was the case with the rose company – this industry was making money by exporting this resource thus changing the shape of this environment. This school boy created some signs in protest and education. He wanted people to realize the harm associated with drinking bottled water and the cost to our environments when the plastic bottles were disposed of in landfills, thus polluting the water that would eventually end up in the bottles for export. A local newspaper encouraged his actions and more and more people became involved. It’s hard to believe, but this young boy started a process that stopped a very powerful company from harming this Earth.

At the end of this film, the audience was asked to help with a local action that is now being decided by London’s city council. There is a law being passed that could see bottled water removed from our schools and city buildings. We were simply asked to raise our voice and share our concerns with the city council members. I did just that. I spent about half and hour writing a short letter and then I emailed it to over ten council members – the email addresses were given to all of us. I think that a decision will be made public, very soon.

People seem to talk a lot of talk about how they protect the environment by recycling and all of that, but so much more needs to be done. I want to inspire everyone to become more involved with understanding the problems that are facing us – both locally and globally – so that we can begin to unite in positive action to create a better world for our children.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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