The Global Water Crisis: Where Is Our Moral Will?
The more I read about this crucial issue the more incensed I become about this global crisis that is totally unnecessary because we have all we need to mitigate it. I also feel disillusioned about a global community that for the most part is not treating this with the urgency it deserves. Do we have to see corpses of children who died as a result of our human behavior before we act? Do we have to actually suffer the consequences before we realize we waited too long? Even though we were warned and have what we need to fix it? If we completely waste the finite freshwater resources we have on this planet we will destroy our own species. The idea that we could actually continue to destroy ourselves by behavior we know is detrimental to our survival is to me truly illogical. We have lost touch with the importance of water, and by doing so have lost respect for it. And that is what in great part is leading us to catastrophe if we do not act boldly now to save it.
Case in point:
In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore makes reference to the Aral Sea (also noted in the first chapter of his bestseller, Earth In The Balance.) The Aral Sea began shrinking in the 60's when the Soviet Union diverted the Ana Darya and Syr Darya rivers for irrigation, which was not even successful. Today the Aral Sea has shrunk 60% in surface area, and 80% in volume. It is polluted beyond recognition because of weapons testing, fertilizer runoff, and other industrial projects that have left it a bowl of toxic dust... And humans did this.
This is becoming a common tale around our world as our rapacious and wasteful behavior regarding this liquid of life is bringing us to the brink of global war over "blue gold." There is no doubt if you look across Kenya, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, and other parts of Africa, Asia, South and Central America, the Middle East (particularly Jordan, Syria, Iran, and including disputes over rights between Israel and the Palestinian territories) Mexico, and even between the U.S. and Canada and in our own country, that unless we become serious about facing this crisis which doesn't have to be a crisis, we will pass the point of no return. And regarding water we cannot and must not allow that to happen.
In my many entries on this issue, statistics regarding the current crisis, diseases suffered because of lack of sanitation or proper sanitation, desalinization, corporate privatization and its effects, and the need to declare water a human right globally without allowing it to become a commodity at the expense of the poor and sick have been discussed. I believe this issue goes to the core of who we are as human beings and so far I see that while many struggle to give hope, humanity as a whole is suffering in the moral will department and that baffles and saddens me. The climate crisis is also contributing to the shortage of water in Africa as droughts are becoming more severe and prolonged with disease, famine, and war the repercussions. And this is just the beginning of something that the world has been getting warnings about for over twenty years.
Again, much like the truth Mr. Gore and others have been trying to get out all of these years regarding our rapacious consumption of fossil fuels that is bringing us to the brink of Peak Oil, and the concentration of CO2 and other gases that are exacerbating the droughts and other effects we are now seeing by own hand, so too have the warnings about what we will reap regarding a global water shortage been viritually ignored by many governments and people who never believe it will reach the point where we will have to care. Well, we are there.
One other predominant issue in regards to water is that population is projected to increase within the next fifty years whereby two-thirds of the Earth's population will be living in towns and cities. That is absolutely staggering based on current population trends. The question then is: how do we control population growth (regarding informing people in underdeveloped countries about birth control and family planning) in these areas and provide sustainable solutions to the water crisis in the future if our moral will is already gone? Are efforts like desalinization truly then the answer? Or is it a bandaid rather than a solution? Desalinization is expensive and expends much in the way of greenhouse gases. Is it then a self defeating process only to once again be abused for profit? And what happens regarding the desalinization of ocean water that has a higher acidity level due to the consumption of higher amounts of CO2 and other gases that will be brought on by the very process we believe is saving us?
The point to this then is, why can't anyone see the answer staring us all in the face? THE ANSWER IS US. It is the same answer regarding this global water crisis as it is regarding the climate crisis. It will not be solved by desalinization or any other process if we continue to waste any resource we turn to. It has to start with us getting in the face of governments that refuse to give what people need to survive and collude to profit from their misery. It has to start with us standing up to corporations that would commoditize this resource that all must have as a human right. It has to start with us in our own lives becoming more responsible for what we use and how we use it. It has to come from our moral will to do our part in preserving the finite freshwater resources we have left on this Earth so that other drastic measures can be avoided.
The cost of us continuing to think otherwise is far too great. The answer is simple. If we won't take it upon ourselves to care for our planet, we betray it. If we don't do all we can globally to face this water crisis, we will cease to exist. Drastic you say? Perhaps to some. But then wars over oil have already done enough to bring us to the point of nuclear conflagration. Wars over water will most certainly be the point in my view that tips that scale the longer we wait to allow our humanity to shine through.
This post is part of Blog Action Day 2009 for Climate Change.
Blog Action Day