Posts Tagged water crisis
The weather is not funny anymore. We will have to find another coping mechanism, another form of therapy to get us through frost-bitten winters and beastly summers. Before you know it, weather jokes will become politically incorrect. With each passing day, the weather morphs into an increasingly serious subject.
I have fond memories of the weather as an old friend. It always had its good moods and bad, its ups-and-downs, but it always seemed to be there for me, especially in the spring and summer. I remember walking down tree-lined fairways, under a bright blue sky and a warm sun. In those days, a weekend round of golf was a walk in heaven.
Those idyllic days are long gone. Weather nightmares haunt millions of people today. Drought victims, flood victims, tsunami survivors, anyone who has lived through a weather catastrophe will have trouble trusting Mother Nature again. These people have every right to think of the weather as an enemy rather than a friend. It is hard for me to imagine feeling like this, but then I’ve never had my house gobbled up by a tornado or flattened by a hurricane.
I think of the weather these days not as a friend or foe. I see it as a messenger. I believe it is trying to warn us, like a biblical prophet.
Who has sent the messenger? The answer is Nature. If you persist in pissing someone off, that person is going to turn around sooner or later and slug you in the face. Right?
Nature has finally run out of patience. Nature is very angry with us. You have to watch out for slow-to-anger types. They usually pack one hell of a punch. We picked on the wrong dude when we started messing with nature. The human race is famous for under achievement and stupidity, but this latest blunder of ransacking the environment is an award-winner. If we don’t act quickly and decisively, the pooch will be screwed past the point of no return.
Winters are already beyond cruel in northern climates. The sun has become a grim reaper in tropical climates. Weather conditions around the globe have become capricious and downright vindictive. The polar icecaps are melting rapidly. Rivers and lakes that once provided life-giving water are drying up or dying from pollution. In twenty years, we may not have enough fresh water to drink.
We have to heed the weather’s warning. The time to act is now. Don’t wait for the government to do something. The U.S. government has been dragging its feet on carbon dioxide emissions for over thirty years. We the people must accept the responsibility for global warming and the water crisis. We are like little children who have to grow up quickly because no one is there to protect us. Little steps can make a big difference if everyone makes the effort.
Read about the environment. Make your next car a hybrid. Personally, buying or leasing a hybrid is the last thing I want to do, but there simply is no other choice. Conventional gas cars have become a bad habit, like eating a steady diet of junk food. Ask your congressional representative and your senator to introduce legislation to cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero in the next five years. Stop clogging up landfills and waterways with discarded plastic water bottles. These are just a few of the little things we can do. Little things multiplied by the world population will generate positive changes with the force of a tidal wave.
Hey, I’m no environmental activist. I’m just saying its high-time we all did something about our environmental habits. I smoked cigarettes on and off until I was fifty years old. Then a light bulb went off. It became abundantly clear to me that if I kept on smoking, I wouldn’t have any lungs left, or twilight years and grandchildren to look forward to.
Global warming illustration at right by http://www.dreamstime.com
The Adventure Project set an ambitious goal. Blog writers and their readers worldwide responded with enthusiasm, compassion and generosity.
The idea came to Becky Straw and Jody Landers, Co-Founders of the Adventure Project, from members of their organization, known affectionately as “The Tribe.” One week before World Water Day (March 22nd) blog writers proposed a challenge to raise $10,000 in one day by promoting The Adventure Project’s latest initiative: repairing broken water pump handles in northern India. The anticipated results of the initiative are twofold. By bringing wells that have fallen into disrepair back into use, 300 more people per month (3,600 per year) will have access to clean water. In addition, the initiative will provide training and jobs to enable unemployed people to lift themselves out of poverty.
Becky thought the tribe members might be able to recruit 50 bloggers to promote the fundraising effort. Jody, an eternal optimist, suggested 100 bloggers. One week later, 137 bloggers had signed up to participate. As the final seconds of World Water Day elapsed, the amount raised reached $11,390. Donations are still rolling in, by the way. All funds collected go to WaterAid, a charity that takes a unique approach to providing the poorest communities with potable water.
“It all came together like magic,” Becky reports. She asked her friend and colleague, Nicole Skibola, to find a company that might be willing to provide matching funds to the promotion. In her role as a “Social Innovation Strategist” with Apricot Consulting in New York City, Nicole works with corporations to create and execute effective programs for social change. A former attorney, Nicole also serves as a “Social Enterprise Advisor,” for the Adventure Project.
Nicole e-mailed a list of her friends and business contacts in an effort to locate a matching funds sponsor. Kathya Bustamante’s name happened to be on the list from a position she previously held with UBS. Kathya, among other interests, now volunteers for TPRF as Manager of the Fundraising Team. Kathya recognized a common thread between both organizations: “Clean Water” and “Dignity.” She forwarded Nicole’s request to decision makers at TPRF. Within twenty-four hours, TPRF committed to providing up to $10,000 in matching funds. “Awesome,” Nicole commented in an e-mail to Becky and Kathya, “the fastest foundation response in history.”
One final footnote—Although TPRF agreed to provide up to $10,000 in matching funds, we surprised the girls by cutting a check for the full amount of the funds raised on World Water Day: $11,390.
“Your response was so amazing and so responsible,” Becky said about TPRF’s participation.
*Photos courtesy of Esther Havens for The Adventure Project
“It’s not going to happen.” This will be the short and tragic answer to the question if governing bodies throughout the world continue to side-step the troubling reality of our planet’s shrinking fresh water supply. The challenges of global warming, pollution from industrial waste and sewage disposal, and the deterioration of water delivery systems must be faced now in order to avoid a worldwide water crisis within the next ten to fifteen years.
As the world population grows, more fresh water is needed for drinking water and sanitation. As a result, the water available for agriculture and industrial uses is plunging below demand levels. The effects of global warming are causing water shortages and droughts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Water mismanagement by government agencies adds to the shortages. Dumping treated and untreated human waste into bodies of water is a suicidal policy that is reducing the worldwide fresh water supply on a daily basis. Poisonous industrial waste products continue to find their way into lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers.
The world’s supply of fresh water hasn’t increased since biblical times. We’re destroying an irreplaceable commodity essential to life while increasing demand at an uncontrolled, alarming rate.
While 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh water. O.3 percent of the fresh water is found on the surface. The balance is buried deep underground.
The burgeoning water crisis is not confined to third world countries or the desert nations of the Middle-East. In Atlanta, Georgia for example, there are days the tap water is so murky residents are afraid to bathe in it much less drink it, even though city officials claim the water is safe. The discoloration of the water is a result of under-serviced mains and pipes, many more than a century old, reaching the end of their useful life spans. When pipes in a water delivery system crack or break, dirt, bacteria, and other pathogens are sucked into the complex underground arteries of a system like Atlanta’s. The problem is usually handled by flushing out the contaminated pipes and upping chlorine levels in each, isolated instance. Few Officials see this as a viable solution for the future. Atlanta’s water problems exemplify similar situations in major cities across America. The Country’s water delivery systems are failing due to old age. A massive infusion of capital (100 to 150 billion dollars per city) is needed to install new systems.
Most of us are too consumed with our daily struggle for existence to worry about global problems like the water crisis. This has to change. Citizens of every country in the world have to take steps to force their governments to enact social programs and legislation to address the water crisis right away in order to avert a catastrophic decline in the quality of life we have become used to.
The situation is bad enough already. One person out of six people alive today doesn’t have easy access to a safe, fresh water supply. Two out of six people in the world (approximately 2.4 billion individuals) do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. This increases the instance of water-borne diseases astronomically. One child in the world dies every fifteen seconds due to a water-related illness. Studies have estimated 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases. Half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-related health problems. 1.8 million Children die each year from diarrhea. Millions of women and children in under developed countries are forced to trek long distances every day to collect water from sources that are often polluted.
It will take unprecedented cooperation between world governments to solve the world-wide water crisis. But the effort has to begin with individual citizens. Governments will not move quickly enough unless there is a loud outcry from the people most affected — you and me.
Let’s take the issue of carbon dioxide emissions for example. The U.S. Government has been too slow in lowering emissions standards. We would all be driving cars running on hybrid and even non-gasoline based fuels today if the original schedule for emissions reductions had been adhered to. We face the imminent threat of crop failures, coastline flooding, extensive droughts, and other serious problems resulting from global warming because this issue has not been managed properly by our government. It is not a problem of adequate technology. It is a problem of mandating change.
Another issue world governments are avoiding is the disposal of raw sewage. We need an environmentally friendly method of treating and disposing of human waste. The necessary funds can be raised and the technology implemented quickly if people force their governments to mandate change.
We need more projects like the “One Water” documentary film sponsored by the University of Miami to raise public awareness of the growing world water crisis. In addition, governments and people around the world must cooperate in developing educational programs, incentive programs, and the distribution of birth control devices to slow population growth to a responsible rate.
Cooperation, innovative ideas, comprehensive solutions, and immediate action are required. We must not put off until tomorrow what desperately needs to be done today.
Sources: U.S. News and World Report; “The Coming Water Crisis,” August, 4, 2002, Web edition. National Geographic News; “UN Highlights World Water Crisis,” June 5th, 2003, Web edition. Water Partners International (http://www.waterpartners.org/.) World Water Council (http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/.) “One Water” (http://www.onewater.org/.) (www.1h2o.org.)