Thursday, April 26, 2012

Climate Matters. W is for water

This post is for W in the A-Z blogging Challenge 2012. Link in the sidebar.

Water is vital for our continued survival on our Earth - for drinking, cooking, manufacturing, mining and farming. Without clean water to drink or to grow crops we can expect negative health effects from malnutrition and other health impacts and further loss of life worldwide.

Arguments about who owns water rights is already a major bugbear between nations where major river systems travel through many countries - the citizens of each country naturally demand their equal share of this vital resource. "Ownership" and "rights" are fragile and hotly contested; those upstream are accused of taking more than their "fair share" and dumping pollutants, debris and toxins in for others down stream to manage as best they can.

Increased demands on water from irrigators, communities, mining and farming is creating tension and an underlying bitterness in country Australia.  Conflicting needs and divided communities can leave scars that will be hard to heal. Unfortunately thrown into the mix is the willingness of the  powerful, high profile, influential, subsidised fossil fuel industry to use well funded persuasive techniques to convince policy makers that their way is the only way.  These techniques are sometimes referred to as 'obstructive', when electricity companies are unable to purchase power from suppliers using renewable energy, such as wind or solar farms, due to contractual obligations.

In Australia, users downstream in the Murray-Darling Basin are left without enough water for their farms and communities, with towns struggling to remain viable. Signs along one of our major river systems show a waterway experiencing enormous stress.
We have such a deep emotional and spiritual relationship with water that it's seen as desirable to build homes over-looking rivers, lakes and bays. The ever changing vistas are a delight, and landowners in wealthy areas often choose to build mansions to benefit from cooling breezes and glorious views. The light from a stormy sky reflecting in water can be mesmerising, moonlight shimmering and plashing waves delight all our senses.

However, many waterside locations are increasingly viewed by insurance companies as somewhat negative, and insurance premiums reflect that industry's acceptance of the impact climate change will have on homes and industries built in 'problematic' areas. Increasing sea levels, the damage from storm surges, erosion and pollution from on land and via ocean currents, are having a disastrous affect on home prices in formerly desirable, wealthy suburbs.

The impact of stressed water systems affects not only home prices by the oceans, but recreational activities inland as well; entire communities and regions are suffering.
In Australia, bitter legal fights between councils aware of the impact of sea level rise, and developers and home owners wanting to recoup costs for subdivisions and low lying homes are ugly and acrimonious. Iconic surf life saving clubs are suffering from storm related erosion and need to relocate at huge cost to communities - yet some people still deny that we are experiencing unprecedented climate change while simultaneously demanding compensation or that infrastructure be built to protect their investments.

Venice is well known for flooding. Enterprising souls now sell single use waterproof boots ... Now that's looking at a problem creatively and making it into an opportunity! How will other cities respond when a similar problem unfolds?
Thrown into this mix is the need to address the issue of the amount of water needed to produce food.  All foods need water to grow and processed foods use extra in the production process. Some foods such as wheat are said to need about 1,000 litres of water per kilogram; in comparison, beef needs about 8 times more than that per kilogram.

See P for Plastics and Pollution (here) - Apparently around $100 billion is spent on bottle water annually world wide. Surely in countries where tap water is safe to drink, we can do better than using bottles for purchased water, especially given how many of those bottles are discarded and end up in waterways and our oceans.

Last year I wrote about Why me? for W in my theme on Workplace bullying here, and Weirdo here



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. well we've just experienced terrible drought - it's not gone, but at least we have rain. The aquifers need to fill up and that will take at least 6months continuous rain .. and the reservoirs are very empty.

The blue-green algae .. we saw that over the great barrier reef - as the rivers washed out in to the sea - the effect you could see from the satellite ..

I can imagine you're having troubles .. I just hope we could get away from greed - and be more philanthropic ..

Cheers Hilary

Liza said...

Here in the US a town in my state just outlawed plastic single use water bottles. I believe it was either the first or the second in the country. My fingers are crossed that it's a fast moving trend.