Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Blog Action Day 2013: Water- A Human Right Under Threat
Today as I sit to write my thoughts on this Blog Action Day 2013 I am filled with ambivalence. I do have hope that we will continue to see some progress on the important crises facing us regarding water access, quality and the degradation we see of this life giving resource due to corporate abuse and privatization, pollution, waste, political apathy and climate change. Despite all of the tragedies we see unfolding before us in places from Sub-Saharan Africa to Syria to more pervasive droughts and floods globally there are many who do know the true meaning of human rights and the role water access, quality, sanitation and dignity play in preserving both our planet and our species and who are working diligently every day to bring attention to it and take action.
However, in writing about human rights and the nexus between water, climate change and the effects we see in tandem with corporate abuse and politics there is no disputing that the current picture of our world looks bleak. This is why we have Blog Action Day. This is why we all across the world join in solidarity to speak with one voice about these important topics that speak to who we are as human beings.
Regarding climate change there is no disputing its current effect on water resources. We see it from sea ice loss to more severe droughts, floods, storms, ocean acidification, amplification of the hydrologic cycle leading to more extreme weather and the loss of billions of tons of agricultural output which is the lifeblood of a majority of the developing world. We also see as global temperature continues to increase globally that we are experiencing the beginning of a true human moral catastrophe if we do not take into account the effect climate change has on our global water resources and human rights and act as one. With global temperature expected to climb to 4 degrees by the end of this century water will be the new oil of the 21st Century.
This plays into corporations abusing and privatizing this resource in order to corner profits which leads to many human rights abuses globally. Over a billion people globally currently lack access to water and 2 billion lack sanitation. If this is not a human rights abuse I do not know what is. Water is the lifeblood of our Earth and comprises 70% of our planet and our bodies. It is the resource we cannot live without and as such should never be construed as a commodity.
However, we now see a huge proliferation of corporate profits being gained through water grabs, privatization, dams and the egregious assaults upon our world waterways. In the world we are now making this will simply not sustain us with a population set to hit 9 billion. Famine, malnutrition, agricultural failures, diseases, drought, soil nutrient depletion, oil spills, acidification of our oceans are just some examples of the results of actions that abuse our water and the Earth that depends on it as deforestation, landgrabs, biofuels, oil spills, privatization, hoarding and exclusivity abuse it.
That last word exclusivity is actually the one word that we need to explore on Blog Action Day. As we travel throughout our world exclusivity is playing a huge part in the human rights abuses taking place. In Syria, millions are now in refugee camps because their cries to leadership in leading them out of the worst drought to hit them in decades due to climate change thus bringing on water scarcity and agricultural losses that caused massive amounts of movement from farm areas to cities thus precipitating their civil war was due to exclusivity. That is the thought by those in power positions and those who possess material wealth that because of that power and material wealth they alone have the right to decide who is entitled to the resources of this world.
It is the same exclusivity practiced as well in the massive proliferation of mega dams. From Three Gorges Dam in China to the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil we are also seeing a massive movement of indigenous peoples as they are being removed from their cultural centers in order to build environmentally damaging dams that serve hydro power to the rich upstream while the poor then go without access to water to live and to grow food.
It is the same exclusivity we see in places like the Arctic where record breaking sea ice loss is changing life for the cultures that have lived there for centuries like the Inuit. The total lack of action by the US government in addressing their concerns about climate change and instead giving way to oil companies to actually drill this pristine area that we must preserve in order to also preserve our climate balance as well as the cultures that thrive there is beyond immoral. This is also true on a global scale in regards to fracking which is now poisoning billions of gallons of water in exchange for farmers not having water to grow food while oil companies hoard water even in places like Texas where severe and prolonged drought sees their reservoirs dry.
In what world where human rights are respected is this allowed to flourish? What have we become when money exceeds water in importance to our lives? When people like this control who gets water?
The examples I have given here do not even scratch the surface in revealing the human rights abuses happening globally in relation to water:
To pollute it thus denying access to it is a human rights abuse.
To hoard it in order to deny access or require huge amounts of money to access it is a human rights abuse.
To use water politically as a bargaining chip or a weapon of war is a human rights abuse.
To deny anyone access to water in order to use it for the life giving action of growing food to survive is a human rights abuse.
To use water scarcity and climate change as a way to profit from others' misery and hardship is a human rights abuse.
We are seeing ALL OF THIS taking place in our world today...and it must end. In this world we are making we will not make it unless we find our humanity again. Unless the unheard voices are heard.
That is what Blog Action Day and every day means to me.
The time to hear our voices as one is now.