The Last Drop

Jul 8th, 2013 | By | Category: Adaptation, Development and Climate Change, Environment, Governance, Guest Speak, Information and Communication, International Agencies, Land, Lessons, M-20 CAMPAIGN, Opinion, Resilience, Vulnerability, Water

Antonio-ClaparolsAntonio M. Claparols (Philippines): We were lucky enough to have grown up amidst the abundance of our natural resources. These were during the decades of ’50s to the ’70s.

The rainforest then was pristine  while  most of the countrysides were unspoiled by man-made progress. Our  rivers teemed with fish as their waters flowed freely and clearly.We had witnessed the abundance of clean waters as if they  flowed infinitely!

Our seas, coral reefs and mangrove swamps were  rich sources  supplying us with a food chain that was clean, healthy and reliable.

We enjoyed  everything from our natural resources  at  a cheaper  price and yet of high quality and larger volume!

I remember how it was popular then  to buy rice  not by kilos like today, but by the “ganta” ( roughly at 2.5 kgs ). Fruits and vegetables were sold by pieces, by dozens or by bundles, rarely by kilos compared today. Most fish, shrimps, crabs,seashells and other marine products were sold either by a bunch or by the heap.

As years pass, both technological and industrial progress everywhere continues to lead us to the deterioration and depletion of our natural resources.

081012_0457_GroundWater1.jpgConsequentially,scarcity is obvious as most products nowadays seem to be sold in their smallest retail sizes, such as the popularity of  “sachets”, while consumption quality usually becomes  questionable due to the prevalence of food chemicals and preservatives, among others.

Even the smallest fruit or vegetable is sold by a kilo,regardless of its decaying condition. Unsafe food production become more and more visible as an alarming consumer issue from the countrysides to the major cities even in the most  progressive countries.

It is an  irony that we are following a cycle of eco-suicide here!

We allow ourselves  to lose  access to a  naturally cleaner, healthier way of living in exchange of a synthetic and chemical-laden consumption that the world now submissively adapts itself to.

Many may  be unaware, but  what really makes up our planet ?  Simply said, we have a so-called  ‘water planet’  since it is made up of over 71% percent of water on the earth’s surface in the forms of  oceans and seas.

The remaining 29% percent cover the  lands such as continents and islands. Freshwater supply found in lakes, rivers and polar ice caps  comprises  less than 2.5%  while over 69%  is in the form of ice and snow.The melting of ice caps is a source of fresh water,too.

But ice caps and icebergs are now  melting faster due to man-induced climate change. Unlike the natural meltdown process, climate change meltdown cannot replenish the ice caps at all.

The irreversible ecological damage will soon render extinct the ‘home of the Inuits’, with all its polar bears and other species in the Arctic. Without the snow and ice as their habitat, they will eventually drown to extinction.

Of the 2.5%  ice and snow, one-fifth  remains frozen in a lake in Siberia. Finally,1.5% of the rest of ice goes back to the oceans and land.

Meanwhile, the  remaining water is  found in our rivers, lakes,groundwater aquifers and watersheds.

Just to give us an idea of how much water is used and wasted :  a typical golf course usually  consumes and uses about a million cubic meters of water daily.

Ladakh regionMultiply that million of cubic meters  with all the existing golf courses in the world, by then you will know how much volumes of water is wasted as aforementioned.

However, most of the planet’s  water is used for agricultural irrigation, human and animal use and industrial-commercial production.

Sadly, much water is also  wasted with the increasing pollution of the seas and oceans. The worsening ecological scenario does not stop there.

Our water tables are replenished by natural rainfall which is stored in forest watersheds and released slowly into the rivers. When heavy rain occurs, the downpour  causes flash floods,since there is no longer an ample forest remaining to contain and store the rainwater.

Also, consider Africa’s deserts,the Sahara, the Kalahari,and the Gobi desert in China, to name a few. All these deserts are  expanding and  reclaiming the fertile land! This phenomenon causes the drying up of water resources and turning them into dry deserts similar to the ‘Dust Bowl’ that occurred  in the United States in the 1930s.

As the  world’s current population reaches over 7 billion, increasing by over 290,000 a day, we can expect   a global  population of over 9 billion in 2050 or 37 years from now.

How worse can that affect our planet? Well,  simply imagine a household budget of 100 pesos a day for three persons eventually accommodating 50 people instead. Hunger  and survival issues are definitely  on their  trail. It is a grim scenario ahead, no doubt about it.

There is just no way that our water resources will last at the rate we are wasting it , depleting the most vital resource.

Despite all these, they still want to dam our rivers to destroy our water sources further.

At the expense of our biodiversity and watersheds, they want to build the Laiban Dam, among others, to supply the water needs of Metro Manila.

Where there’s  water, there is Life. Nobody can survive without water and that’s a fact.

Once we allow the destruction of our natural reservoir, then we will be drinking the last glass of water soon.

All in due time, a glass of water will be more precious  than ounce of gold.  Why wait for the last glass? Why wait for the last drop of water?

The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze was right when he said before: ” Dig your well before you get thirsty.”

But think about it:  With the last drop gone, what good is  a  well without water in it?

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Antonio M. Claparols, is the President Ecological Society of the Philippines, sends this article for Climate Himalaya’s Guest Speak column.  Born in Manila, Philippines in 1952, Antonio received an MBA from Arthur D. Little MEI, Cambridge, MA in 1982 and published two books; ‘For Our Children” and “Treaties Amongst Peoples” (1994) and was a contributor for IMPACT magazine “Ecological Minute” column (1979 – 2000). He is President & CEO of JRS Business Corporation and an active IUCN Member since 1979. Antonio was an elected IUCN Councillor in Montreal 1996 & 2000 and is a member of IUCN Commission on Environmental Economic and Social Policy (CEESP). He was the member of the Philippine delegation to World Parks Congress in Durban, 2003. Antonio established sustainable forest, mangrove planting/protection and organic aqua-culture projects in the island of Negros in Philippines.  Apart from being a father and a businessman Antonio is a scuba diver, an underwater photographer and a farmer. He can be contacted at jamc@mozcom.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Himalaya Initiative’s team.

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