Raul FreitasPortugal

Sink or Swim

 

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Is there anyone out there that doesn’t fully understand the fundamental importance of water? Not a chance. What I do believe is that there are still a great many of us that aren’t aware, (or don’t want to be), that water is becoming more scarce with every passing year and, like all the crises we face today, we need to put an end to the complacency displayed by the majority.

As a kid growing up in Toronto in the 70’s, I recall watching people in my neighbourhood, with garden hose in hand, washing the sidewalk in front of their homes, perplexed, even then, at what I saw as a waste of time and water. I was by no means an environmentally conscious 12-year-old. I wasn’t even aware of the future consequences of people’s actions at the time. I just thought that the water they were spilling onto the sidewalk could have been put to better use. Coincidentally, on our nightly walk here at home, my wife and I come across a lady we know, that insists on washing the public pavement in front of her home, with our precious water. I’m no longer perplexed these days; I just get angry. What kind of rationale does a person invoke in order to excuse such an egregious act? Even more common are automated watering systems that spray as much water onto the road as the garden. I’m going to leave it at that, because I want to avoid getting into the keeping of lawns tidy and green, which not only is a complete waste of water, but also against the balance of nature itself. This complicity will be the end of us. We’ve all grown up believing that paying for something with money entitles us to do whatever we want with whatever it is we buy, but the things we share cannot be seen or treated that way. City dwellers have to take the brunt of the responsibility for wasting resources, after all, when you are in a city it’s all “pay as you go”, so the only train of thought is “pay the bill and the taps keep flowing”. People that live in cities, by far where most of the world’s populations live, tend to be disconnected from nature and its workings. Food is at the supermarket, fuel is at the station, water is in the tap. Ever think about what a luxury it actually is to just open a tap when you need water? Hot or cold! What about the gift of being able to just slip under a shower head after a long day? Instead, it’s like flicking a switch and having light; it happens because I have money and pay the bill-period. Here in Portugal, the environment minister stated that the solution to our water woes comes by the way of building more dams. Build more dams? What good are dams if it doesn’t rain? The emperor is wearing no clothes, folks!

Canada takes pride in knowing that it holds the world’s largest fresh water reserves. If or when many other parts of the world go dry, do Canadians think they’ll be able to hoard their vast supply? One irrefutable fact is that when animals are starving or dying of thirst, they’ll go to any length to survive and the human animal is no different. When push comes to shove, wars will be waged over all the fresh water. We will no longer have the luxury of being complacent or territorial. Just how friendly and understanding will the US be toward Canada, as they dry up and the only way to keep from dying lies in the North?

Even more critical, is reigning in the manufacturing sector. The general population is the usual punching bag, the ones all the problems are usually blamed on and the ones that are called on to sacrifice for the greater good, while the manufacturers steam ahead. Pulp and paper, oil and gas, the production of “things” undoubtedly uses more water in their processes than the all of us combined, yet officials never point the finger in their direction, we’re a much easier target. The “untouchables” always use the “loss of jobs” trump card, but “loss of profits” is their real concern. Most firms would dispense with humans in a heartbeat, if there were a real opportunity to automate. We’ve all been watching this happen for decades.

As always and in everything, the world’s only common god, money, is ever-present. Many manufacturers could pollute significantly less, if they modernized their processes, just as those that use large quantities of water could most definitely develop ways to consume less, or even no, water, but those endeavours require money and there never seems to be any available. I guess the best thing is to stay the course, deplete all of the natural resources we all need to survive and when it all dries up, hopefully they can come up with a way to turn all the profits they made into water.

Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS

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