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On water

September 28, 2016

We now have the most astonishing spacecraft and telescopes probing the far reaches of the universe. The purposes of these probes and explorations are multiple. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking warned that human existence on Earth for very long was questionable and that, for survival, we have to “reach out to the stars.” In scientists’ explorations of near and deep space, when you boil it down, water is always the Holy Grail.

Water is the essential to life on Earth. Our bodies are about 60% water, and life as we know it depends on it. Yet, in the most counterintuitive way imaginable, the human species seems intent on undermining our very own supply of fresh, pure water. We pollute it, we waste it, and we seem to be oblivious to the notion that our lives depend on it.

The pathetic parade of pipeline failures, offshore “spills” (doesn’t the word “spill” make it sound like something small?—they’re not!) and other catastrophes seem to go on and on. These events hardly make the news anymore. Yet, each one, whether large or small, poses a threat to the quality of our finite fresh water supply.

Recent spills, such as 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana or the Colonial Pipeline spill of 250,000 gallons of gasoline in Shelby County, AL, are no longer front-page news. Reports of trash and other human debris in the Olympic waters off Rio got more ink in the press.

Clean-water guardians and advocates such as Trout Unlimited, Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR), Clean Water Network, National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Izaak Walton League, Columbia Water Center, WATERisLIFE, ClearWater Initiative, UNESCO and WHO are no match for the mega-powers of the energy industry. It is hard to get the ear of our leaders here and abroad when so many of them have ties to those industries. But maybe the “drip-drip-drip” of a few voices will eventually become a rill, a stream, a river and then a tide. Then the tide may turn.

So it may be a good idea to find out where your elected officials stand on these issues. Inform them if they are uninformed.