Economic progress has changed basic necessities to clean air and water!

Karma is one sassy bitch! I surely did something to please her because I have running water 24×7. My child does not have to go thirsty. Even if I chose to spend a month doing one of those water fasts (oh yes, there are people who have the will power to do that), I have water for that too.

In fact I am blessed with so much water, that I have no clue what it means to be a farmer in Maharashtra today. I have no idea what it means to be living in water deprived Sao Paulo. I have so much water, that I don’t need to care that almost 86% of California is in a state of drought for the last 5 years. But, do I really not need to care?

Let’s look at that question for a minute, shall we? Do I not care that children, just like mine, in Maharashtra have to go for days on end without water? Of course! It breaks my heart to know that any child has to live through that ordeal. Do I not care that I won’t have free flowing water everyday, water that I pay a small maintenance fee for? Absolutely! It is only a matter of time before our all our taps run dry. Do I not care that the planet is headed for doom? Ah! That I do not, because I don’t think that is true.

The planet will emerge unscathed at the end of the apocalypse, as we have come to expect. It is us, human beings, if at all, that could cease to exist. This shortage of water, I believe, is one of the many ways in which an end continues to manifest.

It is estimated that around 20% of the Brazilian Amazon, just the Brazilian Amazon, has been deforested for cattle ranches because of our insatiable demand for meat and dairy. India is ranked 10th worldwide for forest loss because we have leveled our precious forests in our pursuit of progress and perceived national development. With this loss in forest cover, it is no surprise that rainfall in India in 2015 was about 12-15% below the average of the last 50 years.

This drop in rainfall and resulting reduction in ground water resource has resulted in an increased demand for investment options that profit from the demand of clean water. Yup, we actually took the pain and suffering of millions of people and figured out how to make money of that. Just like we always do, just like we did with oil and gold and other natural resources considered precious and our lives didn’t depend on them either.

Ok, but our planet is 70% water. Surely we can come up with technology to purify ocean water. Yes, because we are so smart, we figured that out as well. We have been successfully desalinating water in countries like Saudi Arabia. But of course, we didn’t really put too much thought into what we would do with all the salt (and other chemicals that we put into the oceans in the first place)  left behind from the process. We are trying to figure out ways around that problem, but haven’t found one yet.

If we don’t get our act together, the water troubles that the fortunate few only hear about, will become commonplace in society. Water riots, like those in Sao Paulo, will become more frequent. A continuous water supply will become a thing of the past, something we tell our grandkids when we talk about the good old days.

Coming back to our dear friend Karma, it is indeed us who write our own destiny. Small changes like fixing leaky faucets or turning off the water when we brush to large scale changes like reforestation are all within our reach. The scarcity of water is going to kill us, not the planet. Nature knows how to undo our damage, but not without undoing us first!

I guess a lot of us need to learn from Bhutan in how that country is going about with reforestation. We need to put happiness before “economic growth” and preserve what nature has given us or water wars will be the future in a lot of countries. Here’s what Bhutan’s Prime Minister has to say:

What kind of economic growth are we really working towards when what we are doing is depriving the world of basic things like clean air and water?