Monday, 7 April 2014

Water is unpredictable

The World as Water

Water covers some 2/3 of the Earth and has been part of our lives for centuries. However, water has been portrayed in popular culture as both a joy and blessing as well as an unpredictable boogeyman. A boogeyman in the sense that the world's water is unpredictable. When the oceans and seas look calm it only takes a few earthquakes, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes and thunderstorms to set it in motion colliding with human settlements and beings wherever they may be. Changing climate and environment have increased water shortage and sea erosion in many regions. Frequent floods continue to pose a long term danger to  island nations and coastal regions who are predicted to slowly disappear or be swallowed by the sea by mid century. The Pacific islands of Tuavalu, Kiribati, Marshall islands, various atolls and coastal regions in Africa ie and Americas also face being slowed by the ocean from rising sea levels, a warming climate and environmental shifts. 

For the past three weeks, firemen and paramedics have been digging through the muddy slush searching for people buried by the mudslide in Oso, Washington. Oso in Spanish oddly enough means Bear. The small village of 130 people have lost 22 residents, half the villages has been flatten and its main road is covered with fallen trees and emergency vehicles waiting for the debris to dry up. Mudslides caused by rain and eroding soil has flatten many villages and towns not only in the Pacific Ocean region but in mountainous regions as well. The West Coast from the tip of Alaska all the way down to Chile's southern cone have witnessed tidal waves, tsunamis in Pacific islands and Asia, earthquake and its multitudes of aftershocks, mudslides and flooding and water born diseases to name a few. Pacific region is known to seismologists and geographers as the Ring of Fire, home to hundreds of tectonic plates and fault lines that constantly built up steam until it explodes in the form of volcanic eruptions or large earthquakes which Chile and Los Angeles recently experienced.

California: Salton Sea's surreal beauty. Photo by John Malmquist 

Just as water has threatened coastal areas, it has reminded society that access to water resources is a matter of life and death literally. Some of the world's major freshwater lakes such as Baikal Lake in Russia, Aral Sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Lake Chad in the West African country of Chad, one of Sahara's importance water bodies has been depleting over the decades. California's Salton Sea,which sits on San Andres Fault line, Iran's Lake Urmia, the Dead Sea in Palestine-Israel, have also lost 1/3 of its water volume to human consumption and agriculture, pollution, salinity, boardroom conflicts over equal access to seas or lakes between states and countries, receding floods, desertification or drought and many factors. Ironically these inland seas were created by floods in arid regions that rely on inland water for their economic and social survival. Scientists and Environmental activists have warned that Lake Chad, Baikal Lake, Aral and Salton seas are disappearing slowly. Their depleting water volume may also be irreversible. Preservation projects have been set up and carried out by local and national governments to halt the remaining lake or sea's water from drying up as climate and human forces threaten to turn water from a valuable resource into a formidable force. There has long been warnings that water might cause a global war as current water scarcity in various regions is no longer seen as a future problem but a growing geopolitical problem with far reaching consequence.

France 24: Is Lake Chad Disappearing?

Online games mirror reality on water importance

The online game, Riverbed: An Eco Mystery Noir imagines a world where water is not only scarce but nearly non existent. Play here

Collapsus, another game compliments of Games For Change group, introduces the player to a world wrecked by war over natural resources including water which has become a prized commodity above fossil fuels and natural gas. An energy conspiracy has brought the world to a reality induced chaos theory.

More on water and life can be found at IG's Pundits and Geopolitics: Water section

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