Monday, March 5, 2012

Water and the Extreme Illusion of Abundance, Last

The combination of the illusion of abundant water and the lack of an ethic for water in America create a dangerous situation. By ‘ethic’ I mean the stewardship ideal. For example, if people could see how closely their children’s and grandchildren’s well-being is tied to the health of the land and water, personal ethics would drive them to cooperate not only on behalf of their families and communities but also for the natural world they inhabit.

We use four times the amount of water, per person, today, than we did in 1950. The lack of a water/environmental ethic plus the illusion of abundance, blind us to how our own back yard garden hose connects to the bigger picture. With a shared water ethic, we could live well, with much less water.

Also since 1950, the demand for water globally has more than tripled, the number of major dams worldwide going from 5,00 to 45,000.

Tho, 70% of our Earth’s surface is water, most of it, 97% is salt water. Much of the remaining 3% that is fresh is held in snow and glaciers, leaving about 1% available. Unabated pollution is reducing the purity of the invaluable 1%. While climate change is shrinking the glaciers and snow packs and contributing to long-term droughts, unseasonable floods and rising sea levels.

Human populations are burgeoning, so that by 2020, it is estimated that 35 nations will experience severe water shortages, while there is the same amount of water on our planet now as there was thousands of years ago. Now is the time to act. Lot’s can be done. Villagers in the small Chilean coastal town of Chungungo, working with Canadian engineers, have installed huge mesh nets in the mountain above the village to act like eucalyptus trees and catch coastal fog. The droplets are funneled into pipes that carry the water to the village.

Jerome Priscoli, senior adviser at the US Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources, adds that “The symbolic content of water as cleansing, healing, rebirth, and reconciliation can provide a powerful tool for cooperation and symbolic acts of reconciliations so necessary to conflict resolution in other areas of society…. Rekindling the sense of sacred water…is one way to facilitate the escalation of debate on water cooperation to higher levels and thus impact the capacity to reach cooperation and manage conflict.”

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