Climate Change, Water and Commons.


I have been thinking about water and commons for sometime but reading this feature  article in inverted commas on a Reuters web site gave me some food for thought.

There is no doubt that water is the most basic commodity that everyone on this planet uses or should I say depends on? Its use started with mankind and unlike other  commodities or resources, water has no substitute and I haven’t heard that water has been ‘manufactured’. People cannot afford not to use water. Water is therefore that natural resource that we must all endeavour to protect at all costs. We hear how rich  nations and multi national corporations are funding new oil and gas explorations around the world including alternatives energy which brings me to the need to take seriously the issues of climate. There is a strong link between climate change and the extraction of resources such as oil, gas and coal. Infact they are indisputably related in negative was. You cannot have massive extraction from mother earth resources such as gold, diamond, oil, gas, timber, etc without doing extensive damage to mother earth and without threatening livelihoods of millions of people. It is however, important to distinguish what is replaceable and what is not and clearly water cannot be replaced/substituted and must be protected or saved.

The article further gave startling and striking figures as follows -between 2007-2025 water usage is predicted to increase by 50% in developing countries and 18% in developed countries. The phenomenon of rural urban migration would continue and impact of climate change was also factored in- thus more floods, droughts that are likely to affect and hit the poorest the most. This is terrifying considering that fresh water is already in short supply. The question therefore is will there be enough water for the predicted population of 9billion by mid century? today over 1 billion people lack access to good drinking water, 2 billion without adequate sanitation, leading to 5 million deaths per year mostly children from preventable waterborne diseases. 97.5% of the entire world water is salty according to the report, of the remaining 2.5% fresh water, two thirds of is frozen. If you look at this it is frightening as there is not a lot of fresh water for use in the world. Of the 2.5% of fresh water available for use for the entire world population only 8 percent of earth’s fresh water supply goes to domestic use, 70 percent for irrigation purposes and 22 percent in industry.

Almost all the continents is affected and identified as hot spots  (Murray-Darlin Basin in Australia, Colorado in America, Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho), Yangtze and Yellow rivers of China) The most important point therefore is that no continent will be left unaffected if measures are not taken now to address these man made calamities that are affecting mankind.

According to an Oxfam report, it is estimated that in East Africa, climate change could bring changes in temperature that would shorten food growing season and affect crop yields such as maize, beans, etc. There is no doubt that the effects could be devastating as the effect would trickle down to affect farmers, there would be food shortages and increased food prices. If you consider that the world’s population is moving towards 7 billion and global water supply dwindling, then its a big problem. Its been predicted that water use would rise faster than population and that means fresh water will continue to . Apart from politician’s needs to make policies that would improve environmental pollutions, we also have a responsibility to put pressure on governments to take the issue of climate change seriously. It difficult therefore to divorce  the use of water, population growth and the aspect of energy. Where water is important to all, energy can particularly be managed to save the earth.  Water usage is set to increase by 50% between 2007 -2025 in developing countries, while food security remains a serious challenge with about 925 million people going hungry with current global population at 7 billion, then it stands to reason that we have to do something about it. Climate change is a major factor if we are to address the the issue of water and food security. As things stand we have no option or alternatives than to try and address this. It is a fact that much of global pollution is from the developed nations and they have given very little towards addressing it. The US the biggest polluter has not signed up to the Kyoto agreement and continue to increase greenhouse gas/environmental pollution. China and India’s green house and general environmental pollution is set to increase. Like many others, I believe it is not only paying climate debt, but the west making strenuous efforts at reducing their own environmental pollution and green house gas. No matter how much they pay without practical steps to reducing green house emissions, nothing will change and the problem would become dire.

Rich countries and corporations have grown wealthy through a model of development that has pushed the planet to the brink of climate catastrophe. Rich nations have over-used the planet’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Measures needs now to be taken to prevent runaway climate change, making it impossible for poor countries to grow their economies in the same way. The average emissions of a rich person in the developed world are 4 times more than those in developing countries. Lets look at the following statistics 70% of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are mostly caused by rich nations. The UK for example is only 1% of the world’s population and accounts for 6% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This excludes other pollutions.

In my view the solutions lies heavily with politicians only if we as commons participate in bringing our governments to take responsibility to  addressing climate issues. Many governments when campaigning for elections make election pledges and promises but what happens when they win elections? Discussions around Carbon trading as solutions to reducing climate/environmental pollution is not new but taken off after Kyoto.  In my view, I don’t believe in carbon trading and it is a dangerous proposition being promoted by rich western Nations just like was done with Free Trade/Globalisation policies where only the rich nations/multi national corporations benefited leaving poor/developing nations poorer. Although I agree it may encouraged more debate and involve countries like the US, nevertheless money cannot be used to justify the need to protect our environment. How about tackling the rest of non carbon emissions like mining, oil drilling and explorations, deforestations, e.t.c which drastically affects and degrade the environment? This certainly is crucial but not given priority but one would ask why is Carbon Trading being promoted instead of practical carbon emission reduction practises? Is carbon trading a sustainable way to improve our environment, how is that going to save our water sources reduce waterborne diseases, e.t.c. Is is also not a very big business venture for a selected few (multi nationals) to take advantage, charge high fees for brokering agreements between nations who want to engage in carbon trade.

I think the most efficient solution is among others is for everyone to be involved because we would be affected one way or the other if water is in short supply. We should say no to carbon trading and join the campaign for climate debt repayment by the 1% of those who have caused and continue to cause most emissions.  Improving lives of the poor by passing on improved agricultural technologies at very low costs to developing nations. As individuals our life styles must change mostly with those with very high purchasing power.  Climate change is a real as it would affect everything that is suppose to make our ways of life enjoyable, it will affect water resources, food security, and eventually our basic existence if drastic measures are not taken. Have you done something today to save mother earth on which your own very existence depends on but threatened by greedy rich nations and individuals? If not think again and be part of it.


One Response to “Climate Change, Water and Commons.”

  1. ngoziokei Says:

    Of course water is the most important essential commodity, that is needed in planet earth. Since the earth population is now seven billion, the earth already has started having lots of different climate, environmental, social and natural problems. This alone should especially the developed countries, should put all their hands on desk, and heads together, by finding remedy and solution to these different calarmities and disasters that are happening to mankind right now. Also finding solution, on how to sustain natural resources, that are basic necessities for life, and the economical development of the entire world.The developed countries, especially the US government, should be thinking of reducing carbon emissions and not carbon trading business and also not distroying the ecosystem of the world, for their own selfish ends and means, which affects and destroys the values, livelihoods and the well being of the developing countries. Please l want the continous campaigning for climate justise, carried out by the World Development Movement, to listen/help the developing countries, for what the developed countries are doing. The voices of the poor countries, should be heard, and action should be done. debt

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