Friday, October 15, 2010

Water: From Many Meanings to One--Life!

(REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci)

October 15 is Blog Action Day: "Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all."; 'First and last, the purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue. By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue."

This year's Blog Action Day is devoted to the issue of water. While a global issue in diverse forms, water is perhaps most obviously important in places where fresh water (as opposed to sea water) and potable water are scarce. Water is above all else a necessary component of the human body (average % of body that is water: women 60%, men 70%, children 80%, infants 90%). Water is also a focus of many activities of human life, including food production, food sources, sanitation, navigation, and sport for fitness and joy. Ultimately, water is part of a delicate planetary eco-system, the balance of which is currently threatened in many ways. Furthermore, although the planet is covered primarily with water, water is not equally available to all, either across climate regions, or within the social structures of a specific region.

I have copied below the points made by the organizers of Blog Action Day 2010 Water, to indicate the importance and diversity of water as an issue.

Why Water?

Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us.
Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.

90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old. Many of these diseases are preventable. The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation.
But, water moves beyond just a human rights issue. It’s an environmental issue. An animal welfare issue. A sustainability issue. Water is a global issue, deserving a global conversation.

Suggested Post Ideas

  • Water as a Human Right: In July, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right over objection from the United States. Today, nearly one billion people lack basic access to safe drinking water. More Info »
  • Polluted Oceans: Not only is pollution bad for the environment, it’s also expensive! Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year. More Info »
  • Uninhabitable Rivers: Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life. That’s not surprising considering the fact that 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are discharged into US waters annually. More Info »
  • Food Footprint: Do you know the water footprint of your food? For example, 75 liters of water are required to make a glass of beer and 15,500 liters to make a kilogram of beef. More Info »
  • Water Wars: Many scholar, researchers and political analysts attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. In fact, a report commissioned by the UN Development Program found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa. More Info »
  • Technology Footprint: On an average day, 500 billion liters of water travel through US power plants to power all the technology that we use every day. For example, that shiny new iPhone in your pocket requires half a liter of water to charge. That may not seem like much, but with approximately 6.4 million active iPhones in the US, that’s 3.2 million liters to charge those alone. More Info »
  • Bottled Water: Even though people in the US have access to clean water from their taps, they drink an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Each year, over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. More Info »
  • Farmers vs. Animals: As water becomes scarcer in Africa, farmers not only compete with each other but also with other animals, including elephants. Forced into close contact with farmers, elephants destroy crops and wreak havoc on agriculture, causing farmers in turn to resort to violence in order to protect their crops and water sources. More Info »
  • Women & Children: In Africa, women are predominantly responsible for collecting water. They walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 40 pounds to gather water for their community, which is usually still not safe to drink. More Info »
  • Children: Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions. More Info »
  • Fashion Footprint: That cotton t-shirt you’re wearing right now took 400 gallons of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 1800 gallons. Not wearing cotton? The dyes and synthetic fibers used to make your clothes create waste that’s among the many contributors to water pollution. More Info »
  • Water Celebrities: A number of celebrities have taken up the cause of water and water rights, including Matt Damon , Adrian Grenier , and Leonardo DiCaprio .

An underground oasis in Saudi Arabia

The Arabian Peninsula is paradoxically determined geographically and historically by a long coastline, and an intimate relationship with the sea, seafaring, and seatrade; and by vast desert expanses, making wells, oases, and navigation of the seas of sand on ships of the desert (camels) primordial in maintaining life, creating lifestyles, and establishing the distribution of wealth and power. Water is the essence of hospitality in a culture where a request for a drink of water cannot be refused. Contemporary issues about water in Saudi Arabia and the GCC include scarcity of fresh water, the necessity of desalination, and cost.

Overlooking Al-Hofuf Oasis, Saudi Arabia

For my own part, I wanted to illustrate some of the roles of water through images from around the globe. I have focused on the more positive, while the source posts (listed at the end) include some of the more devastating images of a lack of water.

(REUTERS/Balint Meggyesi)

(Jens Schlueter/AFP/Getty Images)

Animals first women second (Lynn Johnson © National Geographic)

(Camille Seaman, © National Geographic)


(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

(AP Photo/Andrew Brooks)


(John Tlumacki/Boston Globe staff)

(REUTERS/Borja Suarez)

(GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)


(John Stanmeyer, VII, © National Geographic)

(REUTERS/Nicky Loh)

(John Stanmeyer, VII, © National Geographic)

(Paolo Pellegrin, Magnum © National Geographic)


(Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

(Romina AMATO/AFP/Getty Images)


(Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

(AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

(John Stanmeyer, VII, © National Geographic)

(Lynn Johnson, © National Geographic)

(AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)



(REUTERS/China Daily)


(REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

(AP Photo/ASP, Kirstin Scholtz)

(AP Photo/Adam Lau)

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

(AP Photo/ASP International, Kirstin Scholtz)

What associations do you have with the idea of water?
What strikes you as a key issue about water, from the ones listed?
Do you think a Blog Action Day is a good idea?
What possible positive outcomes could come from such a Day?
Any favourite photos above?
Other comments, thoughts, impressions?

Oasis at Hail, Saudi Arabia

Water Photos are from The Big Picture:
Diving In
World Water Day
On the Shoreline

Oasis near Taif, Saudi Arabia, photo by Silvija|Start Petition


mangchikla said...

What associations do you have with the idea of water? Life

What strikes you as a key issue about water, from the ones listed? fashion footprint, what an unecessary waste
Do you think a Blog Action Day is a good idea? Yes
What possible positive outcomes could come from such a Day? Awareness of certain issues that need exposing
Any favourite photos above? looks suicidal :D
Other comments, thoughts, impressions? duhhhhh!!! kinda 'blank' at the moment

Nice blog , anyway, what do mean 'daughter of the book' btw? :D

Susanne said...

Wow,those photos are fantastic!! Love 'em!


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