To lift people out of dire poverty, advance civilization, and save the planet are integrated goals of modern nations. We are connecting the dots between food security, global health, energy needs, climate change, and water availability. While working to solve one of these problems, we need to involve the others. If one is to be prioritized, I’d say the need for potable water is at the top. We must have water and food. Without water, we have no crops.
Obviously, drinkable, useful water is important. On the other hand, we can easily take it for granted, especially in developed countries where it is readily available at the taps. The fact is that modern water treatment and distribution systems are relatively new inventions. The water we use to maintain our homes, bathe in, and drink is highly dependent upon technology and modern science.
I often contemplated water this year because of the wide-spread, continuing drought that has plagued much of western and central North America. Water shortages and possible water rationing are realities for many people. The problems are not limited to North America. Every continent, including Antarctica have recently experienced water crises. Then, when the rains arrive, devastating floods strike many areas. These water extremes remind us that we are ultimately dependent upon nature for our very survival.
Water, being the foundation of life, has been the fountainhead of art and literature through the ages. We sing songs about the rain, read stories about the oceans, tell tales about rivers and lakes. Take a walk through an art gallary and we will see images that include bodies of water. Perhaps there will be a stylish water fountain somewhere on the premises, too.
Water can be annoying, too. I got water in my left ear during a shower. Afterwards, almost nothing I could do would allow it to drain. Whenever I moved my jaw there was a liquid clicking noise. I tried yawning and exaggerated chewing motions. Finally, I reclined on the floor and tilted my head a certain way to let the tiny drop of water out of the ear. The relief was sensational.
Our health depends on water. We’re advised to drink enough water to keep hydrated. When we’re thirsty, we must replenish with water to keep our organs and body vital. We receive this message in the media, and from loved ones. I try to drink enough plain water. I hope coffee drinking is included in the daily recommendation. Regardless of coffee availability, I keep plenty of water in the fridge because cold water is most appealing to me. This is especially the case when struggling through a hot, humid day. Then icy water is like precious nectar of the gods.
“In order to arrive at knowledge of the motions of birds in the air, it is first necessary to acquire knowledge of the winds, which we will prove by the motions of water in itself, and this knowledge will be a step enabling us to arrive at the knowledge of beings that fly between the air and the wind.”–Leonardo da Vinci
I thought about da Vinci’s statement while watching a video about sea creatures the other day. the gliding motions of stingrays especially look like those of aircraft. Their body profiles are quite similar to those of airplane wings. There are military stealth aircraft that seem to be inspired by stingrays. Airplanes and fish both have fins, too. It seems as if designers have taken da Vinci seriously.
When it comes down to brass tacks, the health of our economy, our communities, our human rights, and that of our bodies are tied to health of our water. It’s good to remember how important water is in our world.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century poet, W.H. Auden. “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”