Friday, October 05, 2007

The Water Crisis Looms Large Over Our Planet

By Jan Moore

It is a tragic scenario we see playing out on our only home. With new predictions from scientists that Arctic glaciers may be gone within 23 years and glaciers around the world melting three times faster than worse case scenatios, what are we going to do to preserve the dwindling fresh water resources we are certain to see strained in the next fifteen to twenty years even more than they are now?

One-third of the world’s population is now in need of potable water which was a scenario not predicted to happen until around 2025 and which is now predicted to get worse unless things change drastically. We are nearly twenty years ahead of predictions on this and yet we are woefully unprepared for the consequences. There is no other way to state this: unless we work to solve this global water crisis now, many of the poor and malnourished in our world where this crisis is most dire will die.

A report by the International Water Management Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka, put out last year painted a bleak picture of global access to fresh water and warned us that this Earth cannot continue by doing business as usual. The time for doing business as usual is over. However, are we listening?

We are reaching the breaking point in many areas of our world due to waste, pollution, mismanagement, lack of water infrastructure, inadequate water infrastructure, and privitization. However, the most damning reason for this is our own lack of will and a basic misunderstanding by people (especially in America) that water is an infinite resource that we can continue to use without any concern for tomorrow. It isn't. And we can't.

Therefore, areas where the poor are looking for a way to not only lift themselves out of poverty but also have a chance at survival must be shown ways to conserve water such as rain catchement, rain agriculture, and effective conservation. This also then ties into people in these areas having information about the climate crisis and its effects and how they can best deal with those effects. The Yellow River basin in China which feeds literally millions of people is just one example of resources exhausted to the point where they can no longer sustain life. Where would those millions of people go?

Just what are we doing?

Is it really that hard to bring better agricultural techniques to farmers in these countries? Is it really that hard to teach them how to deal with the affects of climate change? Is it really that hard to actually do as we say must be done?

* rain water agriculture- cheap, efficient, and saves water.

* rain water catchment (off houses and roads)- cheap, efficient, and saves water. And of course, the health and safety of those using it must also be taken into consideration.

* less water intensive crops that yield more to give farmers more for their planting.

* pressure bought to bear on governments to shore up water infrastructure and work to eliminate corruption and mismanagement.

* planting trees in the most deforested areas to bring water to the source and provide sustinence.

* also providing information and services for women and men in third world countries regarding birth control and health.

These are just some ways to begin which are all possible, but like with anything else those involved in it must also feel hope for the future.

As to how that should happen, we need a "Marshall Plan" (reference to the Honorable Al Gore's term from his book Earth In The Balance) to modernize Africa and look at the priorities of those who live there and in other areas of our world where the climate/water crisis will change their relationship to the planet instead of just throwing money at it (but it cannot be disputed that money is also important, though not the only factor.) But action must begin now or the need for water globally will far exceed capacity to provide it. Howewer, by doing the moral thing we could actually decrease global demand by half. I think the choice is clear, and it is a choice we all have to make.

Water is life

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