Ron Duncan is deeply concerned about water availability in the world, in California and in his hometown of Soquel, near Santa Cruz. It is the most important life and death issue worldwide and in many third world countries, women spend hours each day carrying water jugs – and the water is unsafe and there are no sanitary facilities to prevent disease.
Although the situation in Soquel does not compare to parts of Africa, the situation is dire. Between 1960 and 2000, the US water consumption doubled but the amount of available water stayed the same.
In Haiti, after the earthquake, there was water to drink but no toilets or showers. And cholera broke out as a result.
And in the US, even where there is plenty of cheap, safe water, people don’t drink enough. In the US, the average person uses 180 gallons of water a day, mostly in the bathroom and toilet. In recent years, toilet tanks have gotten smaller, which has saved much water. There are also now “two-flush” toilets that use more or less water depending on what is being flushed.
Philippe Cousteau, Jr. is based in Washington, DC as co-founder of EarthEcho International.
Philippe Cousteau, Junior, is the son of Philippe Cousteau, Senior, and the grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Philippe, Jr. was born in 1979, the same year his father died in a boat crash. With his sister, he is co-founder of EarthEcho International, which produces educational programs about oceans and the environment.
Sharon asked what is the most important educational message his group is trying to get across. Philippe stated, as Sharon often does, that the oceans are the source of all life on the planet since fresh water ultimately comes from the oceans. He said that we must be aware that everything we do and every lifestyle choice we make effects the ecosystem. We therefore must live so that our impact is positive. Regarding water, we cannot live without it (although we can live without petroleum). Sadly, people tend to forget this. Unlike drinking water, the oceans are often out of sight and people tend not to think about them. But they must be protected if we are going to protect our fresh water.
Alistair Morrison, MA (Stockholm, Sweden), Coordinator of Global Water Governance Projects, United Nations Development Program.
Sharon interviewed Mr. Morrison, who was in Stockholm, Sweden, attending World Water Week. He is involved with the International Water Institute in Stockholm and has traveled all over the world to water problem areas such as Pakistan and Mozambique.
He states that the key risk in floods is sanitation and water borne diseases such as cholera. The situation in Pakistan is made much worse because Al Quaida won’t let foreign aid workers in. So the biggest problem is not collecting or organizing aid but delivering it on the ground to the neediest people.
World Water Week has developed what they call “Millenium Development Goals.” The objective is to halve the number of people with unsatisfactory water, which is now over one billion out of a world population of 6.7 billion. Five million people die annually from poor sanitation.
There was some discussion of tube wells, which are inexpensive and less prone to contamination. Alistair noted that in areas without electric without power, especially Africa, they are now installing “round-about” pumps on wells, powered by a children’s playground merry-go-round. When the children play, the pump pumps.
In many areas of the world, women and children spend 5 to 6 hours a day carrying water, time that could be used far more productively. And often, the water is not safe. It has been suggested that with a simple faucet at every door, societies could be transformed, education improved, the status of women elevated, and disease and infant mortality reduced.
Guest: Mahlon C. Kennicutt II, PhD (College Station, TX), Professor of Oceanography, Texas A and M University. “The effect of oceans on human life.”
Dr. Kennicutt is a professor of oceanography at Texas A and M University with a specialty in oceans and climate change.
If Earth’s climate warms and the polar ice melts, he says, seal levels could rise and over several decades, they could rise substantially. He believes that greenhouse gases from human activity (cars and factories) are affecting Earth’s thermostat. These pollutants are quickly distributed over the globe and carry trapped energy which tends to melt ice.
Sharon asked if protection of terrestrial fresh water sources (other than polar ice) would be prudent. Dr. Kennicutt noted that rising temperatures would create more climatic extremes, with some areas wetter and some dryer. As is Pakistan, there would be extended droughts followed by violent floods. In wet areas, drought periods would be longer and closer together. So the answer is yes, absolutely. It is also wise to create diversion and runoff channels in dry areas.
There was considerable discussion of air humidity, and both Dr. Kennicutt and Sharon agreed that indoor, climate controlled air is usually too dry. It was noted that drought affects evaporation into the air but that most of the air’s humidity comes from the ocean. The warmer the temperature, the more water will vaporize, thus increasing the humidity.
Guest : Effie Chow, PhD, from the East-West Academy of Healing Arts.
Original airdate: July 20th, 2010
Dr. Effie Chow is a PhD acupuncturist and health practitioner who specializes in the integration of Western and traditional Chinese medicine. Her background is in nursing and she is a former member of the US Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She has been combining Western and Chinese medicine for over 40 years.
Her special emphasis is the importance of water to health. Humans are 70% water and without it, they would die within a day or two. The percentage of water is the same as the percentage of water covering the Earth’s surface.
A basis for Dr. Chow’s healing arts is the “Law of Five Elements” in Wu Xing philosophy. The five elements are wood, fire, water, metal and earth. Each represents a body part, mood or aspect of the universe. The relationships between elements are used to study or model the relationships between natural phenomena. Dr. Chow believes that every part of every human represents a part of the universe and that their totality represents the universe in microcosm.
Sharon welcomed the listeners and talked about the importance of water in life and life in water. She said that it is imperative for everyone to realize the importance of water, to drink plenty of water and to carry water with them if they are unsure of a water source. Dehydration, or lack of water, is out of control in our world and causes or contributes to ailments from allergies to obesity.
Guest: Ron Duncan
Ron Duncan, M.S. (Santa Cruz, CA), water engineer and writer. "No organisms can live on Earth without water."
Ron Duncan became interested in water as a geology student. He concluded that water is the world's most important resource but despite its abundance, it is not being well cared for. No life form on Earth can survive without water. Because water fills the oceans and falls from the sky, we tend to take it for granted.
46% of the people in the world lack enough water for basic sanitation. By 2050, 50% of people will experience water shortages. Worldwide, underground aquifers, where much of the accessible fresh water is stored, are being pumped dry and/or depleted by drought.
Ron is an advocate of water conservation and offers several suggestions. Sharon agreed and talked about dryland farming, which uses far less water than conventional farming.
Ron noted that there is a projected increase in jobs in water management for three reasons: (1) The "baby boomer" work force is aging. (2) The new generation is smaller than the baby boomer generation. (3) The industry is growing rapidly.
Water is currently far too inexpensive to warrant major investments in things like dams and diversion canals. Lower prices lead to increased and more frivolous use. At present, only 5% of energy comes from hydropower. Nevertheless, a huge amount of water is used in the production of energy.
70% of home water use is indoors, 30% is outdoors. Ways to conserve:
# 1.Install a modern, smaller toilet tank. "Dual flush" toilets use more water for solid waste and less for liquid waste.
# 2. Install a high efficiency showerhead to use 1/3 less water.
# 3. Install a faucet aerator, which reduces flow from 2.5 to one gallon per minute.
# 4. Purchase a front-loading washing machine, which also uses less energy.
Sharon noted that people tend to wash their clothes too often, especially bath towels. Ron talked about lawns and suggested native plants instead of grass, or lava rock or drip irrigation. He also talked about rooftop lawns in Japan that capture water, reduce runoff and cool and humidify the air. Regarding storm runoff, many runoff channels are currently heavily polluted and in some areas, it is now illegal to capture water in a rain barrel.
Categories: Ecology and the environment; global warming and climate change; water and sanitation; 2010
Guest: Alex Prud'homme- Author and investigative journalist.
Alex Prud'homme is a freelance investigative journalist who has written in many areas, including co-authoring a book with Julia Child. He has been interested in water since following New York City's problems with pollution of the Hudson River while growing up these as a child. Manhattan, especially, has no natural creeks and very little groundwater (the other boroughs, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island, do have small natural creeks). When you drill a well in Manhattan, you hit bedrock very quickly.
Even though 100% of New York City's water is piped in, the city has some of the best drinking water in the country. The system is mostly gravity operated and the water is largely unfiltered. The city is currently updating its piping and storage capacity.
Alex believes, as does Sharon, that in the 21st century, water will become increasingly important. Safe, sanitary fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce and no organism on Earth can live without water.
Alex grew up in the Newtown Creek area of Brooklyn, where oil has been spilling into the groundwater for over a century. This is extremely underreported and has been occurring slowly over many decades. It is estimated that 17 to 30 million gallons have been spilled. The area was originally a natural wetland off the East River on which oil refineries were built in the 1880's. There are still oil refineries there today and they are still dumping or leaking oil.
In 1950, the oil in the ground ignited and still little was done. The neighborhood is now a super-fund site and there has been some cleanup but not to the extent of better publicized areas such as Love Canal.
Wetland preservation is extremely important because wetlands strain and filter the environment and help keep it clean. In the US Gulf Coast region, extensive wetlands act as a baffle for storm surges to lessen the impact of hurricanes. They are very rich in wildlife and also very fragile.
Sharon noted that humans tend to overdo things and taking water for granted is one of them. We are the blue planet whose surface is 71% water. However, only 0.3% of our vast water supply is fresh, safe to drink and unpolluted. We can live without oil but not without water.
Louisiana could have prepared for an oil disaster but the EPA would not permit it. Since nothing bad had ever happened before, they got lazy, with no contingency or worse case planning. Oil wells are very powerful and very fragile and spills have a capacity to do an amazing amount of damage as they domino up and down the economy.