Thinking about water

          Forgive me if this post rambles a bit as I try to connect all of these stories, anecdotes and observations together. The one thing that they all have in common is that they deal with water. Before you bail on me (excuse the pun), give me a chance to explain.

          Today’s sunshine has begun melting away much of the snow that is still piled high in my neck of the woods and the water run-off is flowing out back into the protected wetlands that border my property. That’s all good and beautiful, but it reminded me that I did nothing this winter to collect any of the wonderful precipitation that fell around me. Unlike nearly one quarter of the world which does not have clean, potable water, I have the good fortune of living in a country where water is daily taken for granted. (So perhaps water collection was unnecessary in my case, but that’s not the point).

world-water-logo          We expect clean water when we turn on our faucets and even use clean, drinkable water to flush our toilets. We forget that it was not too long ago that indoor plumbing was not so common as it is today (Yes, there really was a Thomas Crapper involved), and that adequate sanitation is still lacking in many places. We also tend to forget that there are still ways to help the cause of giving more people access to clean, drinkable water.

          But what bothers me more is our overall relationship with clean water. Today, we are still buying more bottled water than ever, despite having been told by various reliable sources that it’s not better for us, that it’s overpriced, and that it is not good for the environment. Meanwhile, around the world there are wars being waged for access to clean water, there are gigantic swaths of oceans known as dead zones, and the fishing traditions of many communities are being lost forever as edible fish stocks that lasted for centuries have disappeared. I find it troubling that we could take such a vital resource for granted and that we are unwilling to examine our relationship with this central living force because we are so comfortable or complacent.

          The ancients understood well the power of the sun, and in virtually suryaevery mythology the sun is the central god or the representative of the central god force. Water or the water god, however, is also usually high in the pantheon, though there is sometimes a dark side associated with this force or deity. The fact that the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and Mesoamerica were all born and raised around rivers and waterways illustrates our deep, long standing connection with water.

          But unlike the sun, whose celestial residence and distance, places it far from our immediate grasp, water lives here on earth, and we can harness it in ways that make it tangible and, perhaps, allow us to take it for granted. But that would be a huge mistake going forward. While no one will argue (yet, anyway) that nothing replaces the sun as the number one ingredient for life, water seems like the indisputable necessary second ingredient. Even on our own planet, we have discovered biological systems that harness their energy not from through photosynthesis, but through chemosynthesis, and they exist in our waters.

          The old cliché that, “we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our own ocean floors”, is actually not too far from the truth. Our space probes have mapped the moon and Mars better than any real survey of the oceans depths, and it seems like every time I read another exotic fish story or an article about what we’re still discovering about our own oceans, I am simply blown away. Even as we plunge deeper and chart more of this vast resource, we are also reminded of our negative impact on the world’s water. Just a few years ago, for example, we may have forever lost the last of the Chinese river dolphins. Now the rise of jellyfish is another harbinger of bad news when it comes to our relationship with water.

          So, it all means what? Of course, I am reminded to be thankful for clean water. I am also led to believe that if we continue to pollute our waters or dramatically alter the water cycle, that it will mean bad news for humans, but that it will provide something else room to flourish. Lastly, it also means that water makes me think about a lot of things that don’t really seem to be connected at first, but can at least be explored on the internet; and that sometimes, that’s what posts on this blog are like.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

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About htwilson

born in brooklyn, raised in queens, massachusetts, that's where I be.
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