Water, Water Everywhere, but Scarcely a Drop to Drink

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Water, the second module of the class, began today. Basel was the official transition from energy to water with lectures and observations of both while we were in the city. Water is quite different from energy, though it carries some of the same themes of sustainability, and the parallels may mount in future. Likewise, while our first two professors have different styles, the interdisciplinary nature of both their topics is clear. We have been gifted in the course with professors that are truly passionate about what they lecture.

This first day was a smooth introduction to water as a force in the world to be addressed. Professor Moomaw’s very first slide boiled down the problems the human race is having with water into three powerful qualifiers: “Too much, too little, too bad.” I can’t help but wonder how our global race is going to stay afloat with problems like flooding, drought, and growing demand for clean drinking water. Water is a very deep topic as well. Energy has been so anthropocentric that the natural power of water stands in stark contrast.

The water module has also been reminding me of my high school studies in Biology. As I mentioned, water is different from energy in its universality. Pollutants and sediments are flooding aqueous ecosystems, choking life and causing what is likely to be irreparable damage. All of life on earth depends somehow on water, and the worse water gets, the harder life becomes for fish and fern alike.

It wasn’t all sinking feelings though. There is a lot to be done to help conditions of too much, too little, and too bad water. The most important and basic method for helping resolve issues with water is to increase awareness and create a wide base of support for change. A well-organized group of citizens can help promote development, protect the environment, and advance justice against those that create the problem.

The class rounded out with a PBS documentary called Poisoned Water. Water issues may seem far removed from our well-supplied homes, but one need only look to the Chesapeake bay, or the Puget sound to find serious problems. The documentary was well put together, and definitely struck deep chords in the class. However, I found it long on problems and short on solutions, as I suppose reporting is wont to be. I can’t fathom a solution for these problems myself, yet. I hope to have more to offer by the end of this module.

Outside of class the doom lifted, but not so much of the gloom in terms of weather. Some of the group played volleyball in the light rain, and plans for the weekends to come were tacked back and forth across the dinner table. We caught the sunset on the eastern mountains and there is talk of gelato. For now we can rest, read our assigned articles, and keep our eyes on where the sky meets the water.

Guest contributor:  AJ Peters

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