Water, the greatest commodity in the world today. Without water we die, without water crops fail, without water lush green pasture becomes an arid desert. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.[i]
At 4,258 miles, the Nile River is the longest river on Earth. The Nile waters are a vital source of life upriver to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, and they all lay claim to the water that originates in their land. In Ethiopia, foreign nationals are purchasing land, diverting water from the Nile to irrigate their soybean crops. Experts reckon that in the future, the Nile could be dry by the time it gets to the Nile Delta in Egypt.
Huge areas of land is being leased by countries like Japan, securing 100,000 hectares in Brazil to plant soybeans, Indonesia allocated 10,000 hectares to a South Korean company for maize, and the United Arab Emirates is leasing 400,000 hectares in the Philippines to plant vegetables and other crops. Pakistan, Laos, Russia, and Liberia are all in various stages of accepting similar foreign investments. [ii]These countries divert water sources at the expense of the local populations. They also engage in deforestation of vast areas of rainforest, affecting climate change and destroying the habitat of several animal species.
Other rivers in the world such as the Ganges, the Yellow River, and the Euphrates are so polluted as to be a threat to the environment. Yet, despite its polluted condition, thousands of people bath, wash and dispose of their dead in the Ganges River, in India. Millions of gallons of industrial waste and raw sewage are dumped into the river each day. 600,000 people die each year from water-borne disease. Latin America has become the toxic waste dump for multinational petroleum corporations. The waste which includes PCB’s and other carcinogenic pollutants seeps into the local water supply causing death, sickness and birth defects. The Yellow River in China is so polluted that it is threatening marine life as the water reaches the ocean.
Back home here in the States, we treat water as though it were a right. We use water to wash our vehicles, water the lawns, shower, and bath every day. The average American uses eight times more water than a person living in Africa, and that’s on a good day.
Open cast mining in West Virginia pumps toxic waste into the local water source. Fracking pumps dangerous chemicals into the Aquifer, and undrinkable water is pumped through the faucets of Flint Michigan because the political elite don’t regard the poor as being important.
We can march through Washington DC with our banners, but let’s be fair. The politicians see demonstrations so often; it becomes a regular spectacle. They hide in their ivory towers until the annoyance is gone. There needs to be sustainable action, that will bring about a sustainable solution. In the meantime, cut down your baths, and showers. Make sure the car wash uses recycled water, and leave the grass alone, your neighbor will get over the brown spots.
Water is precious, use it wisely.
Dr. Terrence Threadwell
Dr. Threadwell is Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies at APUS, Director of the Institute of Progressive Pentecostal Studies and Board member Pax Pneuma, Pentecostal Peace Fellowship
[i] “Freshwater Crisis – National Geographic.” Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jun. 2017 <http://www.nationalgeographic.com/freshwater/freshwater-crisis.html>.
[ii] “Africa For Sale | International Rivers.” Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jun. 2017 <https://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/africa-for-sale-1657>.