Thursday, July 12, 2007

Breathing the River

Carbon dioxide, and its impact on the global ecosystem, has been the topic of media debate in Australia this week as the ABC airs the anti-'Inconvenient Truth'-global warming documentary. It's simply the sun's fault, the doco. says, not the fault of humans. This falls happily into the lap of those who seem unaware of the interconnected land, sea and sky ecosystem problems, or turn their backs on ecological devastation.

It was David Suzuki some years ago who pointed out that, often, the effect on the natural environment is not noticed as the incremental damage occurs little by little. Suddenly there are no trees in an area, or the air becomes over-polluted, or the traffic becomes clogged, or the water runs out. Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke (2004) in their book Blue Gold tells us that the water is under severe threat, globally, of running low and then, running out. A recent ABC program pointed out that, for example, that glaciers in Bolivia are melting at such as pace that the iced water from the Andes mountains that supplies the people, will disappear. Then where does the water come from?

Anita Roddick (2004:48) in the book 'Troubled Water: Saints, Sinners, Truths and Lies about the Global Water Crisis' (written with Brooke Shelby Biggs), tells us that 'water is a closed system'. What is fascinating about what they say next really brings home the water issue -
'All of the water that exists on earth today existed when the planet was first formed. The water in a dinosaur's drinking hole 250 million years ago may be the same water in your afternoon tea tomorrow.'

The book is filled with vignettes of water shortages, and water pollution globally. From scarcity to damming rivers, from sewerage outfall to privatisation, there is a thirst in the world; rivers are thirsting; rivers need 'cleaning'; rivers need to be healthy for the wellbeing of human and other-than-human.

Breathing the earth, the life giving oxygen, from trees and the oceans, supports our existence. The image of the mangroves at the beginning of this blog is a reminder of the sweet breath of the tree - to me - to the tree - to me - to the tree - to me. That's why caring for the precious ecological processes is so important. Being aware of the little-by-little removal of trees, especially in water catchments/watersheds, as well as whole-scale logging of rainforests and bulldozing of bushland, and the constant development which flattens the land, these things engender a world where nature is, sadly, in the descendent. Without the life giving processes of the dynamism of refreshing water exchange and clean air flow, our lives are .....well, you decide.

Here in my new home place, the chain saws are at work whereever you look/hear. The bats are losing their feeding trees, the possums are losing their tree houses, the birds are losing their trees to perch and search, and sadly, our lives become less full. But by the river there is life and a sense of wellbeing that the river gives. Thank you river.

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Roddick A with BS Biggs, 2004, Troubled Waters: Saints, Sinners, truths and Lies about the Global Water Crisis, Chichester, West Sussex, Anita Roddick Books.