tagged w/ water access
Global poverty did not just happen. It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization that resulted in the seizure of land, minerals and forced labor. Today, the problem persists because of unfair debt, trade and tax policies — in other words, wealthy countries taking advantage of poor, developing countries.
Renowned actor and activist, Martin Sheen, narrates , a feature-length documentary directed by award-winning director, Philippe Diaz, which explains how today's financial crisis is a direct consequence of these unchallenged policies that have lasted centuries. Consider that 20% of the planet's population uses 80% of its resources and consumes 30% more than the planet can regenerate. At this rate, to maintain our lifestyle means more and more people will sink below the poverty line.
Filmed in the slums of Africa and the barrios of Latin America, The End of Poverty? features expert insights from: Nobel prize winners in Economics, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz; acclaimed authors Susan George, Eric Toussaint, John Perkins, Chalmers Johnson; university professors William Easterly and Michael Watts; government ministers such as Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and the leaders of social movements in Brazil, Venezuela, Kenya and Tanzania. It is produced by Cinema Libre Studio in collaboration with the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. Can we really end poverty within our current economic system? Think again. http://www.theendofpoverty.com/
More at the linkGlobal poverty did not just happen. It began with military conquest, slavery and... more
Photographer Peter McBride traveled along the Colorado River from its source high in the Rocky Mountains to its historic mouth at the Sea of Cortez. In this Yale Environment 360 video, he follows the natural course of the Colorado by raft, on foot, and overhead in a small plane, telling the story of a river whose water is siphoned off at every turn, leaving it high and dry 80 miles from the sea.
In the video, McBride, a Colorado native, documents how increasing water demands have transformed the river that is the lifeblood for an arid Southwest.Photographer Peter McBride traveled along the Colorado River from its source high in... more
When I started this blog several years ago these were the main areas of concern surrounding lack of access and potability of water in the world. And as with the climate crisis there have been many people out here talking about this and trying to educate people in doing what is necessary to provide this human right to all and warning of the consequences of not doing so. Unfortunately, though we have come some part of the way thanks to education, activism and the work of NGOs like Charity Water and others whose links I will also post here there is a long way to go.
As we are now seeing across the globe privitization is still trying to make more of a headway (even though we have seen initiatives in Germany, Italy and in the US in stopping this insidious move to control our global water supply) and moving to "commoditize" water in a market system sure to deprive the most poor of this basic human right even though it was declared so at the UN.
War is also playing a part. As a result of the tumultuous battles taking place in Libya the Great Manmade River Project started by Gaddafi (and this is not to be a political post so I will refrain from discussing opinions of him) which regardless of politics was and is an engineering marvel (I will post video on that here too) has been bombed and essentially shut down thereby cutting off water to more than half of Tripoli and other regions. Water is then still being used as a weapon of war which I find insidious regardless of who does it.
We are seeing as well increasing pollution levels in rivers, continued toxification of our oceans, acidification of our oceans, plastic garbage patches in our ocean's gyres that stretch for miles and on top of all of this, effects of a changing climate brought on by human activity that now threaten water supplies for billions of people worldwide and the systems that sustain our marinelife.
What are we to make of all of this? Are we finally reaching the point where more people will discover just how crucial water is to all of the systems that sustain us? If not, by the time critical mass is reached will it be beyond saving? For the next couple of weeks I will be writing and reporting on ways that we are affecting water and also ways we can save it. In the world we live in now water access has never been more of an urgent crisis.
That is why supporting organizations like Chartity Water are essential in working to provide equality, access and potability of water to the billions who now go without and that also includes adequate sanitation. It is unfathomable to believe that in the 21st century with all of the technological advances we have achieved that we still cannot provide basic sanitation and potable water for the people who live on this planet, even now as we explore other worlds. I say, let's take better care of the one we have now.
Please watch this video and look at the links to other organizations I will post here and reflect on what you can do to address this crisis locally and globally. Water is the one tie that binds us all. We cannot afford to lose it.
More at the link.When I started this blog several years ago these were the main areas of concern... more
Power and water are more interconnected than you might think, and that has serious consequences for a changing world, especially the American West.
Energy and water are as intertwined as the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a bottle of Evian. California likes to think of itself as being ahead of the curve. So when the state set out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regulators did all the right things - stringent tailpipe standards for cars, tighter codes for buildings, higher renewable energy standards for utilities. Then they took one of the most aggressive energy-saving steps of all.
They started a campaign to save water.
The link between energy and water is not always apparent, but the two are as intertwined as the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a bottle of Evian.
By now, everyone knows you save energy by turning out lights. And you conserve water by taking shorter showers. But it's just as true that saving water may be one of the most effective ways to save energy - and vice versa. "It's a 'buy one, get one free' deal," said Douglas Kenney, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School and the editor of an upcoming book that explores the nexus of water and energy.
In California today, the consumption of water accounts for 20 percent of the state's energy use. Much of that energy goes to heating water, but it takes power to gather, purify and distribute water, especially in places like southern California where water is piped hundreds of miles to supply Los Angeles' sprawling demands.
Nationally, energy production sucks more water from freshwater sources than any other sector except agriculture. It takes water to create the power we use to drive our cars, transport our groceries, and run our toaster ovens. Virtually every source of electricity in a typical American home or manufacturing plant - whether it comes from hydroelectricity, coal, natural gas, nuclear, biofuels, or even concentrated solar -- also requires water. Lots of water.
One reason for this problem is that electricity, as we've chosen to produce it, is pretty wet stuff. That's a growing problem, because in many places, finding water for energy isn't easy - and it's bound to get tougher as energy demands soar and climate change alters hydrological cycles in already arid regions. The energy sector is the fastest-growing water consumer in the United States, according to a January 2011 Congressional Research Service report [pdf].
Nationally, that's a challenge, but regionally it could be a calamity. As the Congressional Research report notes, "much of the growth in the energy sector's water demand is concentrated in regions with already intense competition over water."
Giant plug of concrete
The connection between energy and water - and the precariousness of that link in the western United States - is exemplified in a gigantic plug of concrete stopping the muddy Colorado River above Las Vegas, otherwise known as Hoover Dam. At the ceremony inaugurating the Depression-era public works project in 1935, then-Interior Secretary Harold Ickes noted proudly, "no better understanding of man cooperating with nature can be found anywhere."
Hoover Dam provided the two key ingredients - water and power - that freed the Southwest and southern California to go on a 75-year growth spurt. Lake Mead now supplies water to more than 22 million people, and it produces more than four billion kilowatts of electricity per year.
But Ickes likely never imagined how quickly man's cooperation with nature would disintegrate in the 21st century. In the American West, a burgeoning population created a double-whammy of surging power demands and dwindling freshwater supplies. The Colorado River, lifeblood of seven western states, is already as overdrawn as the federal treasury. Drought conditions during most of the 21st century have forced water managers to plan for a day when the region's vast system of dams and reservoirs no longer have enough water to store. Already, utilities have to scramble to respond on days when everybody in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles wants to crank their air conditioners during the same heat wave.
Sustained drought and insatiable upstream water demand have drained Lake Mead to the point that experts are predicting it may soon be shallow enough to be in deep trouble. Despite near record snowfalls and runoff this year that raised its level from historic lows in January, Lake Mead is still 113 feet below "full pool" - and is filled to less than 50 percent of its capacity.
Three years ago researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography warned Lake Mead has a 50-50 chance of running dry by 2021 and that the reservoir's water level could dip low enough to reduce or stop electricity production as early as 2013. Although this year's run-off probably forestalled this dramatic assertion, utilities around the country have already been forced to reduce or stop electrical production because of water issues. According to a survey done in California's 2009 Water Plan Update [pdf], states from Virginia to Nevada and Texas to North Dakota have all curtailed energy development projects because of water quality or quantity concerns.
One reason for this problem is that electricity, as we've chosen to produce it, is pretty wet stuff. Plug an appliance into an outlet and you might as well open a faucet as well. Running an average refrigerator all day uses about as much water as a ten-minute shower (without a low-flow showerhead). According to the U.S. Geological Survey, electric power generation accounts for nearly half of the nation's water usage [pdf]; it takes on average 21 gallons of water to produce one kilowatt hour of electricity. In the arid West, those numbers add up. A report by Western Resource Advocates [pdf] notes that "thermoelectric power plants in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah consumed an estimated 292 million gallons of water a day in 2005 - approximately equal to the water consumed by Denver, Phoenix, and Albuquerque, combined."
Pretty much every step of energy production requires water, from mining to refining, processing to generation. Some of this water is "consumed" - evaporated as steam. Some of it is returned to watersheds in altered forms - like water heated during coal-fired electrical production and stored in cooling towers or ponds before being released - at higher temperatures - back into rivers. "Produced" water from coal-bed methane extraction releases underground water with high mineral content into watersheds. Deep drilling for seams of underground gas deposits rely on chemicals used in "fracking fluids," which contaminate water sources when they leak.
Other potential fossil fuel energy sources, like oil shale, require so much water during its production cycle that energy companies in Colorado have stealthily acquired rights to develop hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water, even before they've invented a viable technology to turn that rock into oil. An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons, or enough to cover an acre of flat farmland with water a foot deep.
That's enough water to escalate the state's already intense water disputes into open warfare. "If oil shale energy does become commercially viable, it will be a huge new water drain," says Dan Luecke, a Colorado-based hydrologist and Western water consultant.
More at the linkPower and water are more interconnected than you might think, and that has serious... more
Around three weeks ago on a late Tuesday morning, Israeli soldiers armed with a truck and a digger entered the Palestinian village of Amniyr and destroyed nine water tanks. One week later, Israeli forces demolished water wells and water pumps in the villages of Al-Nasaryah, Al-Akrabanyah and Beit Hassan in the Jordan Valley. In Bethlehem, a severe water shortage have led to riots in refugee camps and forced hoteliers to pay over the odds for water just to stop tourists from leaving.
Palestinians insist that the Israeli occupation means that they are consistently denied their water rights which is why they have to live on 50 litres of water a day while Israeli settlers enjoy the luxury of 280 litres. Clearly, water is at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but commentators are now insisting that shared water problems could help motivate joint action and better co-operation between both sides, which could in turn help end the conflict.
"It's a shame that water is being used as a form of collective punishment when it could be used to build trust and to help each side recognise that the other is a human being with water rights," says Nader Al-Khateeb, the Palestinian director of the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME).
"We should be using water as a tool for peace and to bridge the gap of confidence in the region - not to create a water crisis," he adds. As part of his work with FoEME - which also operates in Israel and Jordan - Al-Khateeb says he has already witnessed the success of co-operative water projects. Over the past ten years, the FoEME "Good Water Neighbors" initiative has brought together 29 cross-border communities to encourage them to work together to resolve shared water problems.
According to Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of FoEME, the project has managed to leverage around $120 million in investments to help build sewerage plants and replace old and leaky water pipes. Most of this aid, which has come through agencies such as USAID, World Bank, the EU and other foreign governments, has gone to the occupied Palestinian territories. "There are mutual benefits to be had through co-operative work which identifies common interests and we've seen physical improvements on the ground. Nothing speaks louder than the investment of $120m," said Bromberg.
Co-operative work on water issues has also been able to tackle wider political aspects of the Israeli occupation. Bromberg recalls the case of the Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqin and Israeli community of Tzur Hassadeh who worked together to tackle water issues in 2010 but also came together to stop the separation wall from being built between their communities. "Till this day that wall hasn't been built which shows that working together on water can build real trust between individuals and presents a model where everyone benefits."
It's not just locally based environmental groups that think that water may be the solution to the Middle East's problems. This year a report titled "Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water" was released by the Strategic Foresight Group and concluded that water could be a useful "instrument of peace and co-operation" in the region. Funded by Swiss and Swedish governments, the report promoted the concept of a "Blue Peace" which states that, if countries work together to protect water and the environment, this could secure peace in their own countries as well as the region.
Ambika Vishwanath, the principal researcher of the report says that we must move on from the focus on land in the Israel-Palestine conflict. "History shows that using land as a means to achieve peace and co-operation has not worked and therefore it's only prudent that we try to achieve the same through water. New avenues are worth attempting ... if not the problem is only likely to worsen."
More at the linkAround three weeks ago on a late Tuesday morning, Israeli soldiers armed with a truck... more
One year before the Alternative World Water Forum (known by its French acronym FAME) will take place in Marseille 2012, various peoples’ movements around Europe have witnessed landslide victories. Increased citizen participation has played a major role in the issues of water supply management and wastewater treatment, allowing these movements to take giant steps towards remunicipalization, or bringing the water back under public control.
This week we have an inspiring story for you from Berlin, Germany. 12 years ago, almost half (49.9 percent) of the Berlin Water Works (BWB) was privatized under Veolia and RWE. This led to price increase of 35 percent, one of the highest of any German city. Due to negotiated conditions, the Berlin Senate and the private investors decided to keep these contracts secret. As a result, a peoples’ initiative called the “Berliner Wassertisch” began challenging this and started a citizen’s referendum aimed at obtaining the publication of these contracts.
In a referendum on February 13, 720,000 Berlin citizens (27.5 percent of the population) came out to vote and 98.2 percent of them voted in favor of disclosing the details of privatization contracts. This is the first time a citizen’s initiative in Berlin managed to pass a referendum.
This referendum was preceded by a successful petition in which the “Berliner Wassertisch” collected more than 320,000 signatures. 172,000 signatures were needed for the referendum to be held.
This case is yet more proof that more and more communities are becoming frustrated with the broken promises of water privatization. Claims of lower prices, more transparency, and new jobs never materialized and communities are now seeing the numerous advantages of remunicipalization.
cont.One year before the Alternative World Water Forum (known by its French acronym FAME)... more
U.S. naval barges loaded with freshwater sped toward Japan's overheated nuclear plant on Saturday to help workers struggling to stem a worrying rise in radioactivity and remove dangerously contaminated water from the facility.
Workers at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have been using seawater in a frantic bid to stabilize reactors overheating since a tsunami knocked out the complex's crucial cooling system March 11, but fears are mounting about the corrosive nature of the salt in the water.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. is now rushing to inject the reactors with freshwater instead to prevent pipes from clogging and to begin extracting the radioactive water, Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Saturday.
CBS News correspondent Lucy Craft reports radiation levels around the plant have been fluctuating, as workers struggle to stabilize the facility.
The latest threat at the Fukushima number 1 nuclear reactor is a pool of radioactive water.
Efforts to bring the plant under control have been sidelined as workers fight to bail out three of the plant's six reactors. Three workers have been burned at reactor number 3, by radiation levels that have spiked 10,000 times normal.
On Saturday a spokesman for the utility operator Tokyo Electric Power said no one is sure where the radioactive water is coming from, but they haven't had a chance to check the structural integrity of the building since the quake.
If there is a crack in the building, this TEPCO official said, there is a possibility that contaminated water has seeped in.
The situation at the stricken plant remains unpredictable, government spokesman Yukio Edano said Saturday, adding that it would be "a long time" until the crisis is over.
"We seem to be keeping the situation from turning worse," he said. "But we still cannot be optimistic."
The switch to freshwater was the latest tactic in efforts to gain control of the six-unit nuclear power plant located 140 miles northeast of Tokyo.
The switch was necessary because of concerns that salt and other contaminants in seawater were clogging pipes and coating the surface of reactor vessels and fuel rods, hampering the cooling process, NISA said.
Defense Minister Yoshimi Kitazawa said late Friday that the U.S. government had made "an extremely urgent" request to switch to freshwater. He said the U.S. military was sending water to nearby Onahama Bay and that water injections could begin early next week.
cont.U.S. naval barges loaded with freshwater sped toward Japan's overheated nuclear... more
This year's theme for World Water Day is Water For Cities. More people are moving to urban areas, the majority of this migration taking place in the developing world. This is in part due to expansion of corporate landgrabs, deforestation, overpopulation and effects of biodistress that push people into urban areas looking for a way to survive as agriculture which is the main way of life is impacted greatly.
Three quarters of our population is predicted to be living in cities by 2050 which will put a tremendous strain on infrastructure, water quality, water access and sanitation, which then leads to an increase in waterborne diseases.
Access to clean water is the moral challenge of our time and our right. So please, tomorrow take time to reflect upon the importance of clean water, water access and sanitation for those in our world lacking it. We take so much for granted here in America regarding water and the ability to have sanitation that leads to better health.
This site lists events globally and I will be posting about events in this thread as well as listing organizations working to provide clean water and sanitation and how you can help, as well as other entries about the importance of this most beautiful life giving resource.
Please feel free also to add poems, videos, comments, etc.about water here and make a pledge that for this and the next generation we will work to see all with clean water that revives our bodies and souls. This is one way that can lead people out of poverty and into a world of health and peace.
http://current.com/groups/water-is-life/This year's theme for World Water Day is Water For Cities. More people are moving... more
Six days into the worst natural disaster in modern Japanese history, millions of people still lack drinking water as relief efforts are hampered by fuel and water supply shortages, the ongoing nuclear crisis, mangled roads, and extraordinarily cold weather.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, 1.6 million households in 11 prefectures do not have drinking water. Other government sources estimate that as many as 2.5 million households could be affected. The ministry is distributing bottled water and is sending hundreds of water supply vehicles to the three prefectures—Miyagi, Fukushima, and Iwate—that took the barrel end of the twin catastrophes.
Not only were pipes and treatment plants destroyed by Friday’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami, but otherwise functioning systems have been rendered inert because there is no electricity to run the pumps.
The Japanese government has mobilized 100,000 troops to assist the recovery. To date, search and rescue operations have saved more than 22,000 people.
The National Police Agency has confirmed 5,178 deaths as of March 17, according to the United Nations humanitarian office. Nearly 9,000 are officially listed as “missing.” Both numbers are expected to rise as relief workers gain access to the hardest-hit coastal areas.
South Korea will send 100 tons of water if transport logistics can be worked out, according to the Korea Times. The U.S. Navy is using 14 ships and their aircraft, plus 17,000 sailors and Marines, to assist the relief effort, according to the Department of Defense. More than 100 countries offered manpower, financial assistance, and supplies.
Aid agencies are finding it difficult to procure supplies and reach dislocated people who are not among the 430,000 already in emergency shelters. Some in the shelters, especially the elderly, are becoming sick with diarrhea because of inadequate water and sanitation, according to the U.N.
Unsure of what it will find, CARE Japan, a non-governmental aid group, is sending a three-vehicle convoy into Kamaishi city in Iwate Prefecture, northwest of the earthquake’s epicenter.
“The situation is changing daily. It is very difficult to receive accurate information. Once in Kamaishi we will assess the situation to determine how best CARE can scale up our response,” said Katsuhiko Takeda, the national director of CARE Japan, in a press release.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it does not need material assistance beyond what has been provided, and financial contributions are preferred since money can be directed to areas with the greatest need.
It will take weeks to put a figure on the damage to water and sanitation infrastructure in northeastern Japan.
cont.Six days into the worst natural disaster in modern Japanese history, millions of... more
Maude Barlow gave this stirring plenary speech, full of hope even in the face of ecological disasters, to the Environmental Grantmakers Association annual retreat in Pacific Grove, California. Barlow, a former UN Senior Water Advisor, is National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and founder of the Blue Planet Project. Barlow is a contributor to AlterNet's forth-coming book Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource.
We all know that the earth and all upon it face a growing crisis. Global climate change is rapidly advancing, melting glaciers, eroding soil, causing freak and increasingly wild storms, and displacing untold millions from rural communities to live in desperate poverty in peri-urban slums. Almost every human victim lives in the global South, in communities not responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. The atmosphere has already warmed up almost a full degree in the last several decades and a new Canadian study reports that we may be on course to add another 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.
Half the tropical forests in the world – the lungs of our ecosystems – are gone; by 2030, at the current rate of harvest, only 10% will be left standing. Ninety percent of the big fish in the sea are gone, victim to wanton predatory fishing practices. Says a prominent scientist studying their demise “there is no blue frontier left.” Half the world’s wetlands – the kidneys of our ecosystems – were destroyed in the 20th century. Species extinction is taking place at a rate one thousand times greater than before humans existed. According to a Smithsonian scientist, we are headed toward a “biodiversity deficit” in which species and ecosystems will be destroyed at a rate faster than Nature can create new ones.
We are polluting our lakes, rivers and streams to death. Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water, the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population of 6.8 billion people. The amount of wastewater produced annually is about six times more water than exists in all the rivers of the world. A comprehensive new global study recently reported that 80% of the world’s rivers are now in peril, affecting 5 billion people on the planet. We are also mining our groundwater far faster than nature can replenish it, sucking it up to grow water-guzzling chemical-fed crops in deserts or to water thirsty cities that dump an astounding 200 trillion gallons of land-based water as waste in the oceans every year. The global mining industry sucks up another 200 trillion gallons, which it leaves behind as poison. Fully one third of global water withdrawals are now used to produce biofuels, enough water to feed the world. A recent global survey of groundwater found that the rate of depletion more than doubled in the last half century. If water was drained as rapidly from the Great Lakes, they would be bone dry in 80 years.
The global water crisis is the greatest ecological and human threat humanity has ever faced. As vast areas of the planet are becoming desert as we suck the remaining waters out of living ecosystems and drain remaining aquifers in India, China, Australia, most of Africa, all of the Middle East, Mexico, Southern Europe, US Southwest and other places. Dirty water is the biggest killer of children; every day more children die of water borne disease than HIV/AIDS, malaria and war together. In the global South, dirty water kills a child every three and a half seconds. And it is getting worse, fast. By 2030, global demand for water will exceed supply by 40%— an astounding figure foretelling of terrible suffering.
Knowing there will not be enough food and water for all in the near future, wealthy countries and global investment, pension and hedge funds are buying up land and water, fields and forests in the global South, creating a new wave of invasive colonialism that will have huge geo-political ramifications. Rich investors have already bought up an amount of land double the size of the United Kingdom in Africa alone.
We Simply Cannot Continue on the Present Path
I do not think it possible to exaggerate the threat to our earth and every living thing upon it. Quite simply we cannot continue on the path that brought us here. Einstein said that problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. While mouthing platitudes about caring for the earth, most of our governments are deepening the crisis with new plans for expanded resource exploitation, unregulated free trade deals, more invasive investment, the privatization of absolutely everything and unlimited growth. This model of development is literally killing the planet.
cont.Maude Barlow gave this stirring plenary speech, full of hope even in the face of... more
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!It is a tragic scenario we see playing out on our only home. With new predictions from... more
Today on the Water Is Life Group I will be participating in Blog Action Day and featuring entries that tell the story of water. The documentary, Flow For The Love Of Water will also be featured so if you have not seen this important documentary about what is happening to our water through privitization please try to make a point of doing so today.
There will be no more important a topic in our future than water. Energy is run by water. Agriculture is run by water. Our lives would not be liveable without water. Yet, so many people today in the 21st century still do not have this basic resource to sustain their lives and health with climate change now bringing new challenges.
So I hope that at least for today you will take some time to reconnect with the water that makes your life enjoyable, also respecting its awesome power, grace, and beauty. The lifeblood of our planet is a reflection of our morality and as it stands now it shows a species weak on that score. In order to preserve this planet for our future generations and all other species, we must begin to pay more attention to what sustains it.
Thanks.Today on the Water Is Life Group I will be participating in Blog Action Day and... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
Ed. Note: The Mulch is participating in Blog Action Day 2010, an initiative led by Media Consortium member Change.org that asks bloggers around the world to publish posts on the same issue on the same day. This year’s topic is water.
Last week, rivers in Hungary ran red with toxic sludge, creating the perhaps most powerful image of water contamination possible. Imagine, for a second, if every chemical leaching into waterways in this country had such a brilliant hue. What color would our water be?
Less than crystal clear, certainly. We still don’t know, for instance, what chemicals the government and BP poured into the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon spill, as Mother Jones‘ Kate Sheppard reports. Beyond one time dumps, American industries and consumers are steadily polluting our water system. Energy companies contaminate waterways. So do massive, industrial farms. Sewer systems overflow, and landfills leach waste. Even household chemicals — pesticides applied to suburban lawns, for instance — contribute to the problem.
Flouting the Clean Water Act
After the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, politicians finally took note of the country’s polluted and within a few years had passed the Clean Water Act. In theory, the Clean Water Act should limit contamination, but as The New York Times reported last year, violations have been increasing. Just this month, in Kentucky, environmental advocates brought a case against two coal companies that allegedly violated the Clean Water Act more than 20,000 times, as Public News Service’s Renee Shaw reports.
The violations “include doctoring water pollution reports, failing to conduct tests, and exceeding permit pollution limits,” Shaw reports.
That’s just one example of water pollution. At Grist, Tom Laskawy reports that researchers Indiana found a chemical produced by genetically engineered corn in “25% of streams they tested, and all the streams that tested positive were within 1,500 feet from a cornfield.”
The chemical in question, Bt, is technically organic. Plants grown from Monsanto seeds produce it to ward off bugs, and since it comes from an organic process, it is approved for use in organic farming, too. So, what’s the big deal? As Laskawy writes, it’s still a toxin, and the consequences of injecting large doses into the water system are unclear:
No one has any idea yet of the effects of long-term, low-dose exposure to Bt on fish and wildlife. Perhaps it’s high time somebody did a study on that since, as the researchers dryly observed, the presence of Bt toxin “may be a more common occurrence in watersheds draining maize-growing regions than previously recognized.”
These types of problems continue in part because governments are unable or unwilling to crack down on polluters. In the Kentucky mining case, for instance, Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard reports that the environmental advocates filed the suit in part because they felt the Kentucky office that oversees the Clean Water Act “had not enforced the law.” Sheppard writes:
Donna Lisenby, who works for the environmental group Appalachian Voices, described literally blowing the dust off stacks of reports from the companies that did not appear to have been actually reviewed by anyone in the state office. Or at least, they were not reviewed thoroughly; she also described reports that appeared to have the same data copied and pasted from previous months, and reports that were dated before the testing was actually conducted.
Even when the government does hold companies accountable, however, that doesn’t guarantee a good, quick result. Take General Electric’s clean up of the Hudson River. The company began dumping chemicals there in the 1940s but is still trying to delay its clean-up efforts, writes Change.org’s Jess Leber.
As with every environmental issue nowadays, climate change also plays a role. When it comes to our drinking water, carbon dioxide pollution is not a problem. But for ocean dwellers, it is. As Courtney Shelby writes at Care2, the ocean has absorbed 400 million metric tons of greenhouse gas, which has lead to a shortage of oxygen. Shelby explains, “This creates “dead zones” that are absent of all marine life for thousands of years, posing a serious threat to biodiversity.”
Ultimately, though, water contamination is not just about the environment. The lack of clean water extracts a real human cost. As Change.org writes, “Access to clean water is not just a human rights issue. It’s an environmental issue. An animal welfare issue. A sustainability issue. Water is a global issue, and it affects all of us.” What that means, however, is that environmental advocates concerned about water pollution can find allies in other social action movements.
In Detroit, for example, environmental and health advocates joined together to address water issues, as Making Contact reports. The “People’s Water Board” works on water pollution and on water access, and so far has pushed city officials overseeing water issues towards greater transparency.
In all of these cases, whether the culprit is the energy industry, agribusiness, or climate change, the work of environmental advocates is calling attention to and pushing to resolve the problem. With these sorts of efforts, perhaps it won’t take a flaming river to push leaders across the country to work to make our water clean.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
Ed. Note: The Mulch is participating in... more
When the 47-member Human Rights Council (HRC) affirmed last week that the right to water and sanitation was a basic human right, the consensus resolution was described as a "historic first" for the U.N.’s premier human rights body based in Geneva.
"This landmark decision has the potential to change the lives of billions of human beings who still lack access to water and sanitation," claimed Catarina de Albuquerque, a U.N. independent expert on human rights obligations.
What this means, Albuquerque explained, is that the right to water and sanitation is equal to all other human rights - and is therefore legally binding and enforceable in existing human rights treaties.
The consensus resolution was a logical follow-up to a key General Assembly resolution adopted last July which also - for the first time - recognised water and sanitation as basic human rights.
But in reality water and sanitation have remained two of the most neglected sub-texts of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which came under scrutiny at the MDG summit here last month.
At this much-ballyhooed summit, world leaders adopted a plan of action - officially called the ‘outcome document’ - which recognised the obstacles thwarting the MDGs and offered pledges and commitments to reach the defined goals by the targeted date: 2015.
The primary goals and sub-goals include a reduction by 50 percent the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger, the reversal of the spread of HIV/AIDS, the elimination of gender inequality, and the reduction by half the proportion of people without access to water and sanitation.
Currently, over 800-900 million people have no access to safe drinking water and over 2.6 billion people are living without adequate sanitation.
While most developing nations have made limited progress in providing clean water, the targets for sanitation remain virtually unreachable.
"If current trends continue unchanged, the international community will miss the 2015 sanitation MDG target by almost one billion people," warns U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.
In an interview with IPS, Jon Lane, executive director of the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), said he sees visible signs of progress since 1.3 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990.
Still, he says, "the pace is too slow to allow the world to meet the MDG target on sanitation."
"There are many reasons for this slow pace," Lane said, "but the main one is that political leaders in developed and developing countries have not grasped the fundamental role that good sanitation plays for people’s health, dignity, economic well-being and local environment."
Success with sanitation would bring a huge swag of benefits, plus it would support the achievement of other MDG targets on child and maternal mortality, education, and poverty reduction, among others, he added.
Jamie Bartram, director of the Water Institute at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, told IPS the MDG targets for water and sanitation are "wildly under-ambitious".
The idea that anything less than water and sanitation in every home is a serious target in today’s world is astonishing and binds millions in poverty, he pointed out.
"Today’s MDG targets focus on water and sanitation for households. But these essential needs are required elsewhere too - in schools, workplaces and markets for example," said Bartram.
The idea that it is possible to deliver effective health care services without reliable and safe water and sanitation makes no sense, but yet it is the reality of many health facilities.
"It is often said that sanitation lags water. Yet, if we use as simple benchmarks their availability at home, then we see that water lags sanitation and both are available for only around half of humankind," Bartram noted.
He also said that water and sanitation offer rare opportunities to make progress across the MDG agenda, yet have not attracted the attention they deserve.
Asked if the outcome document adopted by the U.N. summit last week offers any hope, Lane, of the WSSCC, told IPS the document makes note of sanitation 17 times. "This is good, and an improvement over the past." Remember, sanitation was not originally an MDG target, he said.
However, it remains to be seen whether the outcome document as a whole is concrete enough to accelerate progress so that the target is reached.
What’s missing, Lane pointed out, is a reference to hygiene practices: hand washing with soap can save one million lives per year - mostly children in developing countries.
Fortunately, there is momentum in the sector and sanitation’s profile is rising, thanks in part to new initiatives like the Global Sanitation Fund operated by WSSCC and the new Sanitation and Water for All initiative, a multi-stakeholder network reaching out directly to finance ministers, among others.
Pointing out existing deficiencies, Bartram told IPS there is still far too much focus on building new systems, sources and supplies, and too little on keeping them working.
"The allure of opening a new facility far outweighs the prosaic task of keeping them working, but we see a large proportion of all hand pumps [for example] out of action at any one time, and investing in sustaining systems offers more bang for the buck."
He said maintaining and extending effective water supply is challenged by other demands for water for agriculture, and by other threats, such as climate change.
"It is imperative that after 2015, water and sanitation are part of the international development agenda not as part of environmental protection but as key motors for health and development in their own right," said Bartram.When the 47-member Human Rights Council (HRC) affirmed last week that the right to... more
As recently as 100 years ago, Montana's Glacier National Park had more than 150 glaciers throughout its more than one million acres.
In 2005 only 27 remained. Today the total is down to a just 25 and those that are left are mere remnants of their former frozen selves.
With warmer temperatures and changes to the water cycle, scientists predict Glacier National Park will be glacier-free by 2030.
Daniel Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) ecologist who works at the national park believes that even those estimates are too conservative and says the park's namesakes will be gone about ten years ahead of their predicted demise.
--Chas Cartwright, Glacier National Park Superintendent. "The glaciers have been around for the last seven thousand years," he told CNN, "and if we are going to lose them in the next 10 or 20 years that is a pretty radical shift."
The rapid melting of glaciers has led scientists to believe that mountains are more susceptible to global warming than the lowlands beneath them.
"Mountain ecosystems have been changing about twice as fast as the rest of the globe. We have had temperature increases that are two times greater than the average," said Fagre.
Many scientists are now concerned about the cascading effects on the landscape and the consequences for all species -- including humans.
"Many people are directly dependent on the water coming out of mountains and in the arid western United States that figure is much larger, it is about 85 percent," said Fagre.
"So even if you live a long ways a way you are tied to the water in mountains and so we have a lot of concerns of future climate change scenarios."
Fagre says mountains are the "water towers of the world" with 70 percent of the world's fresh water frozen in glaciers.
CNN traveled to the edge of Grinnell glacier that is at an altitude averaging 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) and was named after George Bird Grinnell, an early American conservationist and explorer.
"When George Grinnell came here in 1887 he described this place as being a thousand foot high in ice and this entire basin was filled to the mountaintop," said Fagre. "Now I stand beside a lake that is 65 meters or 187 feet deep."
We could see chunks of ice falling off, and others just dripping away. Fagre bent down to show us what's underneath the thin edge of the glacier.
Many people are directly dependent on the water coming out of mountains. In the arid western United States that figure is much larger, it is about 85 percent.
"Look under here and you can see there is a lot of mucky sauce stuff and this is a lot of the rock flour ground by the glacier because it has been dragging rocks across the underlying rock layer and rubbing those two together creating this very fine material," he said.
"Many people would not be impressed by this little dirty glacier that seems to be obviously falling apart, that has become very tiny and decrepit -- and people often think about glaciers as these beautiful white expansive, blue colors - but those are healthy glaciers and this one is not. This one is on its last legs."
In 1997, USGS Physical Scientist Lisa McKeon and Fagre started the Repeat Photography Project at Glacier National Park tracking down old photographs of the park's glaciers taken by first explorers in the 1900s and comparing them with their own images. View the historical images here
McKeon and other USGS scientists try to re-photograph the exact spot where the historic photograph was taken, though it's not always possible when the original photographer was standing on ice that is now long gone.
"If you look at these pictures, you cannot say they haven't changed over time. It's very obvious," says McKeon.As recently as 100 years ago, Montana's Glacier National Park had more than 150... more
Multiple environmental stressors, such as agricultural runoff, pollution and invasive species, threaten rivers that serve 80 percent of the world's population, around 5 billion people, according to researchers from The City College (CCNY) of The City University of New York (CUNY), University of Wisconsin and seven other institutions. These same stressors endanger the biodiversity of 65 percent of the world's river habitats and put thousands of aquatic wildlife species at risk.
The findings, reported in the September 30 issue of Nature, come from the first global-scale initiative to quantify the impact of these stressors on humans and riverine biodiversity. The research team produced a series of maps documenting the impact using a computer-based framework they developed.
"We can no longer look at human water security and biodiversity threats independently," said the corresponding author, Dr. Charles J. Vorosmarty, director of the CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative and professor of civil engineering in The Grove School of Engineering at CCNY. "We need to link the two. The systematic framework we've created allows us to look at the human and biodiversity domains on an equal playing field." The framework offers a tool for prioritizing policy and management responses to a global water crisis.
Many stressors threaten human water security and biodiversity through similar pathways, but influence water systems in distinct ways. For example, reservoirs convey few negative effects on human water supply but they significantly challenge aquatic biodiversity by impeding migration routes and changing water flow regimes.
Understanding and responding to the myriad threats to water security requires new methods to make diagnoses and to act on these findings. "As is the case with preventive medicine, our study demonstrates that diagnosing and then limiting threats at their local source, rather than through costly remedies and rehabilitation, is a more effective and sensible approach to assure global water security for both humans and aquatic biodiversity, " notes Professor Vorosmarty.
"We've integrated maps of 23 different stressors and merged them into a single index," said study co-leader Dr. Peter McIntyre, assistant professor of zoology, University of Wisconsin. "In the past, policymakers and researchers have been plagued by dealing with one problem at a time. A richer and more meaningful picture emerges when all threats are considered simultaneously."
Among the stressors analyzed were the effects of pollution, dams and reservoirs, water overuse, agricultural runoff, loss of wetlands and introduction of invasive species. The authors said their findings are "conservative," since there is insufficient information to account for additional stressors like pharmaceutical compounds and mining wastes.
High incident threat levels to human water security were found in developed and developing nations around the world. Affected areas include much of the United States, virtually all of Europe and large portions of Central Asia, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and eastern China.
"We uncovered a broad management principal operating at the global scale," Professor Vorosmarty said. "In the industrialized world, we tend to compromise our surface waters and then try to fix problems by throwing trillions of dollars at the issues. We can afford to do that in rich countries, but poor countries can't afford to do it."
The researchers noted that causes of degradation of many of the developing world's most threatened rivers bear striking similarities to those of rivers in similar condition in wealthy countries. However, going down the path of instituting highly engineered solutions practiced traditionally by industrialized nations, which emphasize treatment of the symptoms rather than protection of resources, may prove too costly for poorer countries.
There are many more cost-effective solutions, they point out. For example, engineers, can re-work dam operating rules to achieve economic benefits while simultaneously providing water releases downstream that preserve habitat and biodiversity.
With the high price tag for bringing water quality and supply in the developing countries to levels found in industrialized economies, Professor Vorosmarty argues that a more economical approach is called for. A strategy called integrated water resource management, which balances the needs of humans and nature, would best meet the dual challenge of establishing human water security and preserving biodiversity in the developing world.
contMultiple environmental stressors, such as agricultural runoff, pollution and invasive... more
There are more people living in India that openly defecate than the entire continent of Africa. Sanitation and hygiene education and access are imperative to providing healthy living conditions in much of India and providing for a cleaner, healthier world. Some progress is being made in some villages, but this crisis is still effecting much of the population. And India is not alone in this.
Sanitation, hygiene, water access, water equity, education... all key elements in lifting developing countries out of poverty and disease and bringing hope to women and girls to provide them with a future. In the 21st century, it is shameful this is still a crisis. With all of our resources millions of people still have no access to dignity or to a clean water source.
This has been a true failure of humanity.
We should be taking better care of our planet, and each other.There are more people living in India that openly defecate than the entire continent... more
Women all over the world are living in slavery. They are slaves to the backbreaking often dangerous job of providing water for their families daily. In countries whose governments are corrupt, the environment is devastated, and the water is not fresh and in many instances in scarce supply. In households where traditions preclude them from education, economic opportunity, and equality in any form. And they are the missing link in regards to the economic success they and many of these countries could have if only this tragedy were given the attention it deserves.
The typical day of a woman living in one of these countries begins at about 2AM every morning. She awakens to make a trek to a water source with her five gallon Gerry can in order to collect water for the family for the day. It won’t go far depending on the number of children she has, and she may even have to forfeit using any of it in order to provide for their needs first. She treks along rocky terrain with her can sometimes with others, sometimes alone, or with her daughter who doesn’t attend school in order to help with this task. The trek can be dangerous, with them taking a chance on being raped, robbed or worse. Once she reaches the water source she must stand in line waiting for her turn to fill her can of what is many times polluted water that may well give her children dysentery. But it is all they have.
Once she fills her can she must then make the backbreaking trek back to her village once again. Her trip can take her anywhere from six to nine hours a day not including her other chores in bringing up her children, providing for them, many times harvesting any crops grown, feeding them whatever they have, and providing spiritual guidance. This then takes time away from her and her daughter having opportunity in education or in pursuing any sort of life where they can contribute to advancing their own lot in life.
And this is their life, every day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, every year.
It is hard for many in this world of plenty to relate to the lives of women who must struggle for all they have and who are denied their identity and their dreams. For us, getting up in the morning and turning on our showers or our taps is something we don’t even think about because the water is always there. We don’t think of the water used for cooking or bathing, or washing, or doing other tasks that people in these countries wouldn’t ever have a chance to do. While we waste water on golf courses, in pools, and to build desert resorts, water is gold to those who live in countries where there isn’t even enough for the basic necessities of life.
cont.Women all over the world are living in slavery. They are slaves to the backbreaking... more
Approximately 2.5 billion people in this world do not have adequate access to sanitation, with waterborne diseases being the number one killer of children in the developing world. This was a project performed to test the effects of solar disinfection of water to reduce childhood diarrhoea in rural Bolivia. It is studies like this that hopefully will bring better health to developing rural communities where sanitation and access to potable safe water is a daily life and death struggle.Approximately 2.5 billion people in this world do not have adequate access to... more