Monday, November 9, 2009

How the African Bushmen Can Help Save Us From The Water Shortage

Photo courtesy Amazon.

A new book has come out called Heart of Dryness which discusses how the Bushmen of the Kalahari can teach us what we need to know about how to live in dry climates. This knowledge is something we increasingly need as we slide headlong into a global water crisis. If we don’t do something now, clean drinking water will become the most precious commodity on earth and the scarcest.

Unfortunately, there is much political upheaval in the region and the government is running the Bushmen off their land; and, they are now a culture of vanishing peoples. With them they take all their knowledge and tools that can help people globally cope with the growing scarcity of good, clean, drinkable water.

TreeHugger says:
Only 1% of the world's water can be used for human consumption. Half of the global population will be living in areas of "acute water shortage" by 2030. In India, where water shortages are already being felt, there were over 50 reported acts of violence over water during the month of May alone. And while experts estimate 2.5 gallons per person per day is a sustainable amount to use, the average American consumes 100 gallons per day. And that's just household use, not counting the amount used for agriculture and manufacturing of the goods we consume.

The global water crisis; and, to a lesser extent, the global food shortage is not so much a result of climate change; but, is a result of our misuse, mishandling, and greed. In fact, the developed countries such as the USA, Canada, Europe and others must take the majority of the blame for this wastefulness for using agricultural and manufacturing techniques that are definitely not sustainable.

All of us can think of at least one way we could save water right now. There are many ways to start collecting water for non-drinking uses to avoid using treated water from the tap.

An example of this would be a rain chain. Rain chains are used instead of gutters to direct rain water to the ground – or more preferably, a rain barrel. Rain chains can be used on balconies to save rain water also. This saved water can be used to water plants, water lawns or any number of other uses. Collected rain water is especially beneficial to potted plants that normally do not get rained on. Rain is full of good stuff that is beneficial to plants and potted ones are no exception.

But I digress…

Everybody (and I mean every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet) needs to learn to use water in a more reasonable and responsible manner. Somehow, we must also try to instill the desire to save water even in countries where water is still abundant.

There is a movie out that is a new take on a real survey. The movie is called The Box. The movie basically mirrors the question that was asked of a group of people. The question was:

“If there were no way that anyone would ever find out what you had done, would you press a button that would guarantee you $1 million; but, cause the death of someone you don’t know, somewhere you will never know?”

To my disbelief, the majority answered “yes”. I always found comfort in the thought that if justice were being done, the person whose death they’d cause would be the last person who pressed the button.

This same thinking is responsible for the water shortages today. The majority of people in countries with adequate, even abundant, water don’t want to inconvenience themselves in any way.

As Workman states in an interview posted on Circle of Blue, "I won't glamorize Bushmen, or urge us to imitate them. But their code of conduct works so well, as ours falters, that I question who is really 'backward.' Our so-called "more developed societies" still irrigate deserts, collapse atop depleted aquifers, amputate currents, blend urine and feces with tap water, kill salmon runs with dams, and evaporate more water than we consume. Because of such profligate waste--according to World Economic Forum or Goldman Sachs--we're now hitting a wall, a limit to growth; well, Bushmen have lived with that wall for 30,000 years. Their proven strategies point us toward a softer, alternative approach, and they do so with laughter and dance."

Personally, I’m going to read the book.

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