Blog Action Day: The Global Water Crisis Looms Large Over Our Planet
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 30-40 years and other glaciers around the world melting three times faster than worse case scenarios what are we going to do to preserve the dwindling freshwater resources we are certain to see strained in the next fifteen to twenty years even more than they are now? These glaciers are the water source for over two billion people on our planet and they are shrinking faster every year not only through glacier melt but a melting will to do the right thing and to face this crisis head on.
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. There are 2.6 billion people on our planet without even basic sanitation! What does that say about our moral conscience and our priorities? We are nearly twenty years ahead of predictions on the effects of this crisis 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 in an equitable way, many of the poor and malnourished in our world where this crisis is most dire will die.
We are reaching the breaking point in many areas of our world due to waste, pollution, mismanagement, lack of water infrastructure, dams, inadequate water infrastructure and privitization which is an inhumane abridgement of global human rights. And now, the ever encroaching spectre of climate change threatens our very relationship to the planet we call home in ways we could not have imagined just thirty years ago. So what accounts for the lack of will in taking this on fully? Apart from political/ideological rancor, I believe it is 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 effects 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 farmed sustainably 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 and basic sanitation.
* and one very important goal, to include water and this crisis in any global climate negotiations!
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 "Global Water Marshall Plan" (reference to the Honorable Al Gore's term from his book Earth In The Balance) in our world where that truly holds polluters accountable and where we also work to bring water saving energy sources to areas that are parched, drought stricken and in need of water to grow food and live. This brings me to the subject of dam projects which are increasing exponentially in many developing countries in an effort to provide energy, only all they are doing in the process in many instances is taking away water sources from those who need it most to live and displacing millions of people from their homes and cultural centers.
Renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal) and sustainable agriculture could go hand in hand in saving many people from starvation and death in these areas, but dams are not always the answer nor are they "green." Instead of simply jumping to this as a solution in order to make governments and contractors profit, we need to assess more accurately the true needs of the areas in question and work with the people of these areas taking their imput into account. There is too much emphasis on profit and not enough emphasis on caring about life.
The climate/water crisis will change our relationship to the planet and action must begin now or the need for water globally will far exceed capacity to provide it. By doing the moral thing we could actually decrease global demand by half. And part of this is in declaring water a GLOBAL human right which we are getting closer to as seen just recently in Geneva. That is crucial to equitable access and keeping scarce resources out of the hands of greedy corporations looking to make a profit off the hardship of others.
NO ONE in this world should have to die due to a lack of clean potable water!
However, before we can accomplish this we must admit to our human frailty, take responsibility for it, and work together as a global community in understanding that when our water resources are polluted, toxified, misused and used in violation of the rights of others that is in direct antithesis to our purpose on this planet. As I look out on the future of water even with the crisis we see before us, I do see countless people who revere it, cherish it, respect it and work diligently to preserve it. In this age we live in now where those forces making profit from doing the opposite become stronger, we must stand firm against them. We are being given a choice and we are at a crossroads as a species.
I think the choice is clear, and it is a choice we all have to make.
Water is sacred
Water is the lifeblood of our Earth
Water is life!