Freshwater can cause entire nations to celebrate or mourn; water can transform a desert overnight into a cacophonous shout of color and life; a steady stream of water can become the anchor of commerce and community for centuries. Water isn’t just the rain that falls or the lakes, marshes and rivers that define our geographical regions; but the groundwater, the aquifers, the glaciers, and polar ice caps. Water means life.
Freshwater, though a seemingly abundant resource for those of us in the Midwestern United States, is quite precious and rare. Do you know how much of the world’s water is freshwater? Less than 4%! Of that tiny bit, over 65% is trapped in glaciers and snow caps. That leaves only 0.76% of the world’s water available to humans in rivers, lakes and underground aquifers. Think of the world’s total water (fresh and salty) as a gallon jug. About ⅔ cup of it would be all the freshwater, but people can only drink, irrigate crops, and manufacture with ⅛ cup. Continue reading →
Another excellent update from Paris by John Elwood…
It’s clear why the countries of Asia are desperate for an agreement on climate pollution. The principal water source for countries from China to Pakistan is the frozen Tibetan Plateau — the “Third Pole” — and it’s melting fast in our warming world.
Vanishing glaciers raise urgent concerns beyond Tibet and China. The 46,000 glaciers of the Third Pole region sustain 1.5 billion people in 10 countries — its waters flowing to places as distant as the tropical Mekong Delta of Vietnam, the hills of eastern Myanmar and the southern plains of Bangladesh. Scattered across nearly two million square miles, these glaciers are receding at an ever-quickening pace, producing a rise in levels of rivers and lakes in the short term and threatening Asia’s water supply in the long run. Continue reading →
I flew into Dubai early yesterday morning from a two week stint in Kenya and Tanzania. Coming from one of the least developed areas of the world – I spent a week without electricity and running water – into one of the most developed cities on earth and home to the world’s tallest building, I was reminded of this article which I wrote for The Other Journal three years ago after a similar trip. Enjoy…
There are few air hops that will give you a greater contrast than the four-hour trip from Nairobi to Dubai.
Nairobi is the capital of one of the poorer nations in the world, the home of the infamous Kibera slum, and a textbook case of how population growth, rapid unplanned development, and massive environmental degradation result in poverty and human suffering. Flying out of Nairobi, you can see signs of distress in every direction just by looking out of the plane window.
Dubai is one of the wealthiest cities on earth. Flying into Dubai, evidence of prosperity is as obvious as the poverty of Nairobi. High-rise buildings grow out of desert sands, massive highways clog with traffic. The terminal itself is more of a shopping mall with jetways than an airport: a temple to consumerism. Every imaginable gadget, garment, and trinket is on offer at prices that may be as low as anywhere else in the world.
But there’s another way to look at these cities. Let’s rewind and put on a different set of glasses:
Care of Creation, my organization, does a lot of work teaching people in Kenya and other East African countries about the dangers of destroying forests. God gave us trees for good reason: In terms of hydrology (water cycles), trees are essential. They are like the columns holding up the roof of a building – lose the trees, the whole system falls apart. It turns out that something very similar is going on in the Mississippi River watershed of middle America. We’re a richer country – but it appears that mere wealth can’t stop a flood. When we human beings carelessly destroy vital parts of the world God gave us to live in, it doesn’t seem to matter whether we’re living in a village in Kenya or on a farm in Missouri.
Lost in the blizzard of headlines over the last week – tornadoes, weddings, the death of a terrorist – is the developing flood situation in the Mississippi River valley. The few stories that we’ve seen have focused on what one commentator called a solomonic dilemma: Whether to save a small, struggling riverside city (Cairo, Illinois) or hundreds of thousands of acres of the country’s best farmland in Missouri. That case has been all the way to the US Supreme Court in the last 48 hours, with the result that last night the Corps blasted two miles of levees at Bird’s Point, just south of Cairo in order to reduce the pressure on that community’s flood defenses. As of this writing, the river has receded by a foot – the Corps hopes that they’ll see three more feet of decline in the next couple of days. Continue reading →
In this blog we don’t spend a great deal of time on climate change/global warming. This is not because we do not believe it’s a problem – it is. But in the larger picture of what is happening in God’s creation, climate change is one of many problems, including loss of biodiversity (extinctions), water, deforestation, chemical pollution – the list could go on and on. The January issue of the Journal of the Royal Geographic Society, one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world, devotes itself to the question of whether and when the globe might reach a temperature increase of four degrees Celsius (7 degrees F) and what such a temperature rise might mean.
This is not good bedtime reading, but you need to at least take a look. Keep in mind that the 2070’s (see the first article below) are within the lifetime of today’s college students, and that this is not material from the radical edges of the blogosphere. These are some of the world’s most respected scientists, but – considering the scenarios they are describing – some of them are more optimistic than I would have expected.
Below are some of the articles in this issue with a quote or two from each. The content is free today – I’m not sure if it will remain so. I have copies if the links to the articles no longer work – drop a note in the comments or send me a message. Continue reading →
Another guest post from Donn Ring. Who knew water drops had so much to teach us? [previous post by Donn is here.]Click on the pictures to see them full-size.
I have often attended 2 martini or chardonnay social hours where mature folk chat about their recent global treks to visit the wonders of civilization — pyramids, temples, castles, palaces, fortresses, cathedrals, chateaus, museums, mausoleums, formal gardens. Monuments of Man. All very impressive and fascinating.
“Oh — Donn, have you seen the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London? Ahh — but then there is the Antwerp World Diamond Centre in Belgium. Have you been there? Stunning! And how about Paris’ Les Arts Decoratif with it’s fascinating display of fashion jewelry?”