2015 30.5 x 39” 77 x 99 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Fresh water as global resource is not well managed, but we all need it to live. We must begin to treat water as the truly precious resource that it is. Climate Change is just one piece in a very complex puzzle of threats to our fresh water.
Glaciers form over decades, centuries, and millennia, in cold temperatures from snow falling not just at the poles, but on mountain tops which are cold because of their high elevation. During the summer these massive glaciers warm and partially melt creating some of the great Rivers around the world. As the temperature of the planet has been warming, glaciers around the world have been receding at an alarming rate, and this is already causing a reduction in the amount of water flowing into many rivers during the hottest and driest months. In April of 2015, the Governor of California made the annual trek to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to measure the snow pack which indicates the water which will run into the river over the summer. When he stood on the traditional spot where the snow is usually 5 – 6 feet deep on April 1st, he was standing on dry grass. “People should realize we are in a new era.” he said.
Nearly two thirds of the Amazon Rainforest is in Brazil, and almost a quarter of it has been cut down. It has been estimated that the entire Rainforest could transpire as much as 20 billion tons of water a day. This immense amount of water released into the atmosphere helps create the dense clouds sometimes called
‘Flying Rivers’, which give the huge daily deluges of rainfall, which perpetuate the rainforest. These flying rivers have also traditionally delivered rain to the southern part of Brazil. But with so much of the Rainforest cut down these flying rivers are not delivering as much rain to Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo which houses about 12 million people. Many of the city’s water reservoirs are below 15 % of capacity. Many other countries are experiencing their own water crises, drawing down lakes and underground aquifers at a rate that is simply not sustainable.
Vast Quantities of fresh water are also lost forever in the extraction of fossil fuels, with horizontal fracking being the worst culprit. In the United States 40,000 wells have been drilled since 2011. Once the oil, gas, or Bitumen is extracted 80 % of the highly contaminated water is forced back down into the well as a way of getting rid of this now toxic waste. 97 billion gallons of fresh water, more than half of it in drought stricken regions, have been lost forever down fracking wells in the US, since 2011.
Finally there is the contamination of the fresh water that comes out of our taps. There are countless fossil fuel, mining, industrial and even farming operations which all release toxic chemicals, both legally and by accident, which threaten to contaminate lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers. A person can live for about 2 ½ days without water, after that they begin to die of thirst. There really is no other resource as precious for life on this planet as clean fresh water.