Water is life

   Mni Wiconi, Water is Life

Indigenous Environmental Network

Felipe Gaitan follows up from yesterday’s post on forests with his thoughts on water on the United Nations World Water Day, 22nd March 2017.

‘Imagine you are being sucked by a tree’s roots, and that you are now moving against gravity towards the top of the tree, where you find yourself being expelled through the leaves into the air. Yesterday we talked about forests and their value. Trees help to evaporate water through a process called evapotranspiration. In other words, forests are massive creators of clouds, and clouds are our main source of clean water.

Hydrogen and Oxygen, – the chemical elements in water – are some of the most common elements in the universe. We know that it covers most of the Earth’s surface and that it is found almost everywhere. So, why are we constantly reminded that water is scarce? Here are a few factors:

1. Water is not evenly distributed throughout the planet. While Atacama, Chile is the driest desert in the world, Meghalaya, India receives about 15 thousand times more rainfall.

2. Most of the world’s wastewater is not treated, thus reducing its availability.

3. Contaminated water has a negative impact on the natural environment, i.e. forests.

Last year the Sioux native american tribe set up camps at Standing Rock to protect the water flowing through their land. The protests have become globally significant, demonstrating the links between continued use of oil and the risks to other natural resources as well as the challenges and conflicts arising around use of indigenous lands and the debate on rights.

About a month ago, the Dakota Pipeline Water Protesters were forced to leave their camps under threat of imprisonment. Most of the protesters are indigenous people who are concerned of the impact of the pipelines to their river basins. However, we live in an era of misinformation and disinformation and it can be very difficult to work through the influx and choose a side. Indeed, is it about sides at all, or is it about finding ways to work together? Maybe overall these are not the questions we should be asking ourselves.

A more relevant and contemporary question is: Should we still be building pipelines today when mankind is moving towards new, cleaner sources of energy that by default do not have a negative impact to water?

Is there a better way? Well, yes. As an example, the river Thames is cleaner now and hopefully it will get to the point where our children see salmon jumping up the locks. In fact, the Pipeline Water Protesters do have an undeniable point: water is life giving and part of us all. It is essential to our survival and it is worth fighting for.

Celebrate the Day of the Water today by catalysing the water rights and by minimising your harmful effects on water.’

Felipe Gaitan is an ecologist, project manager and Master of Science in Environmental Strategy who grew up in Colombia. A recent graduate from the University of Surrey he is now joining Catalicity to apply his experience of sustainable development, ecological forest restoration, urban agriculture  and sustainable farming to help businesses to deepen their understanding. His passion for nature extends to all aspects of his life, whether work related or hobbies. He is a fulcrum for positive action towards the environment.

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