Water cycle http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/water...

Water cycle http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleprint.html Other language versions: Català Czech español Finnish Greek Japanese Norwegian (bokmål) Portugese Romanian עברית Diné bizaad (Navajo) and no text and guess water vapor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world’s ever-increasing population and overwhelming demand on the freshwater supply, combined with the adverse effects of climate change, has triggered a new and urgent focus on the issue of water security and the need to address looming threats to water shortages globally, and now includes conversations on market-based solutions to this problem.   Some readers may find it difficult to appreciate the reality of a water shortage given that 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water; however, the facts are that (1) the majority of that 70 percent is saltwater and (2) clean freshwater for consumption, agriculture and other human activities is in short supply.

In the United States alone, the total use of water for agriculture, industrial and personal use is greater than the entire amount of water that flows in the country’s rivers.  The net amount required to meet the demand is pulled from ground water beneath the earth’s surface, thus creating a shortage there.  Consequently, our extreme demand on the water supply has led to a “new geologic era” in which “humanity has taken over key [planetary] drivers:  the water cycle, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle”.  [1]  One proposed solution to the water shortage is the adoption of a market-based system that privatizes freshwater services and allocates a price for its use.  Under such a scenario, water quantity and quality would be traded as goods with the potential that water would become the “biggest commodity of the 21st century”. [1]

The greatest benefit derived here is that a market-based system would provide a strong incentive to conserve water.  Everyone would pay for what they use as priced on the open market.  This would then focus more attention on water quality.  The removal of water services from state, county and municipal control and placement in the competitive market also would encourage more efficient use of water.  Ultimately, with the creation of investment opportunities, private companies would be better able to fund research and development on sustainable practices and to build and maintain the necessary filtration, clarification and delivery systems without political and budget constraints inherent under public control.  On the flip side of such a proposal, privatized water could negatively impact poor communities, possibly leading to health catastrophes as people unable to afford water would use rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, which often are contaminated and pose health risks.  As such, any solutions that privatize freshwater delivery would have to include a component that provides affordable access to the water supply for basic consumption and hygiene to those unable to purchase service.  Interestingly, studies do show that people tend to find a way to purchase things they deem important.  As an example, statistics indicate that  in India, more people have access to cellphones “than to basic sanitation“, i.e., toilets. [1]

The privatization of water could be a boost to the green movement simply by the change in attitude with the realization that its use comes with a premium price tag.  Individuals would be more receptive to reduce their reliance on water in the home by carefully planning lawns and landscaping.  Hopefully, they would use more grasses and plants that are drought resistant.  Also, as the cost of water to feed farm animals is passed on to consumers, it is likely that people will entertain the notion of reducing their meat consumption to some extent.  Lastly, farmers hopefully will be more inclined to shift from flood irrigation of crops to drip irrigation, thereby reducing their agricultural water consumption by about 20%.

The reality here is that fresh water shortages are a major concern, particularly here in the United States where the availability of freshwater largely has been taken for granted.  A recent report by the U.S. Drought Monitor notes seven states, namely Oklahoma, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska are in the throes of severe drought. [2]  Clearly, this is an issue that deserves immediate attention simply because we cannot exist without fresh water.  Privatization of the management and delivery of freshwater through a market-based system is a possible albeit extreme solution and definitely merits discussion.  To save our freshwater is to save our lives.  To do this, let’s live green, be green.


Sources for this article:

1.  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2013/03/29/can-the-world-afford-cheap-water/.
2.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/30/states-running-out-of-water_n_2984979.html.


“WATER WASTE MEANS WATER SHORTAGE” – NARA – 516053 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


With the Oscar’s upon us, our minds as a nation tend to drift towards the extravagance as a result of watching global icons in Hollywood’s biggest party of the year. Opulence and decadence are the most appropriate adjectives to describe the evening and more specifically the gowns and tuxedos worn to the event. It is fairly common for dresses to cost tens of thousands of dollars as designers use the star-studded event to promote their fashion lines and brands on the most expensive mannequins money can buy.[1] Despite the lavishness however, many of these actors and actresses are heavily involved with charities and humanitarian efforts. Their global statuses help to raise tremendous amounts of money for causes they deem valuable, or even crucial for society to survive moving forward. Leonardo DiCaprio for example has consistently sought to bring about awareness of environmental issues through his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF). DiCaprio’s latest project is called LYON, which is an organic and fair trade coffee company, whose proceeds support LDF’s other sustainable ventures which include, but are not limited to, “…Wildlife protection, forest preservation, clean water, and climate change.”[2]

In addition, Colin Firth, who currently is working on a project to help save the Brazilian indigenous Awa tribe, who are being threatened as a result of illegal logging of the Amazon Rainforest, is among a growing population of celebrities who are involved with charities and humanitarian efforts geared around the environment and green issues.[3]

And while it is difficult to say that some charities are more valuable or important than others, the impact of green initiatives and sustainability affect us all to some degree or another. I realize that the focus of the Oscars (or any other awards show in general) is not charity i.e. the Guardian Charity Awards. Yet, a lot of good can be done by a simple celebrity plugin. Actors and actresses are already asked what and who they are “wearing” for the evening. By wearing a green inspired dress or tuxedo and mentioning that to the public is relatively harmless, and is in line with the questioning they already receive from reporters for the night. Imagine how much awareness for green clothing can be provided by even a single celebrity endorser. For example, just think about how many eyeballs watch an event like the Oscar’s. Now imagine the amount of attention a green clothing initiative would receive if say a George Clooney wore a hemp fused Armani tuxedo or a Jennifer Lawrence wore a Donna Karen dress made from recyclable materials. The amount of good press for a celebrity who endorses such a movement and for the designer, who took time out to make a sustainable and fashionable garment for a celebrity to wear, would only be equaled by the amount of exposure for the green clothing movement. Celebrities are already involved with green charities. Yet, their statuses as global icons will only help to push a movement like sustainable clothing quickly into mainstream if they choose to endorse it. What a personal and humanitarian statement that would make if a celebrity showed up to an event that is broadcast worldwide in elegant clothing made from green materials. Let’s push our celebrities to wear sustainable clothing and to promote the movement’s ideals to a worldwide audience. In that way the world can see the possibilities of sustainable clothing and can further help to promote a world in which we live green, and be green.

[1] http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/02/24/how-much-do-oscar-invitees-really-pay-for-their-red-carpet-looks/

[2] http://www.thedailyactivist.com/celebrity-charities-dicaprios-newest-eco-partners/

[3] http://www.thedailyactivist.com/genocide-in-the-making/

Earlier today, the Supreme Court submitted its ruling that upholds the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act or as we have come to know it, “Obamacare”.  The overall costs of this act in terms of dollars will be hotly debated for years to come, especially in regards to individual mandates and expansion of Medicaid to cover unemployed and uninsured people.  While there is some disagreement about some of the terms of Obamacare, one positive lies in the mandatory provision of preventive services, especially for women and children.  This definitely fits into the category of a green initiative.  

With this provision, many people, young and old,will get the opportunity to get medical services in a physician’s office rather than in the emergency room.  This experience is important because an established doctor-patient relationship in an office carries with it an educational component.  People with established relationships with medical professionals can attest to the availability of reading material available in the doctor’s waiting rooms regarding nutrition, exercise, hygiene, etc., as well as the videos that often are playing on the televisions.  The wait time in the physician’s office is a dedicated learning experience.  Also, the scheduled block of time for each patient provides opportunities to ask the physician or the assistants general health questions and to get referrals for ancillary services, such as counseling, support groups, etc.  On the other hand, appearances in area hospital emergency rooms are often rushed due to the sheer number of people waiting to be seen.

Preventive services are very important because they incorporate a holistic approach to good health.  They encourage us to make the connection between positive changes afforded by clean air, clean water, healthy diet, environmental changes and other green initiatives that help us to avoid health problems.  

We also can expect to see hospitals and medical practices adopt practices to control the increased flow of visitors to their facilities.  These initiatives include the increased use of visiting nurse practitioners and physicians to homes to treat chronically ill patients, the use of computers and video conferencing to maintain remote contact with patients to discuss their conditions and the introduction of more community counseling, lecture series and classes for patients to address health issues.  

Obamacare definitely is a step in the right direction to educating citizens to live green, be green!