Thursday, December 30, 2010

Water, Water, Water....Everywhere?-by Lisa J Scott

On October 6, 2009, Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chair of the intergovernmental panel on climate change spoke at the 2009 Nobel Conference to a group of students and academics about water scarcity and its monumental effects on the environment. According to his estimates, by the year 2020, "Up to 1.2 billion people in Asia, 250 million Africans and 81 million Latin Americans will be exposed to increased water stress”.

He indicated that “water stress” will impact poor and developing countries the most and will have “an enormous impact of human health, including malnutrition, pathogen or chemical loading, infectious disease from water contamination, and uncontrolled water reuse…[essentially] water is like the worlds wealth”.

With that said, like monetary capital we have populations who have an abundance of wealth, while there are others that cannot afford the basics such as food, shelter or clothing. Similarly, water as a form of capital is disparate for populations throughout the world and many do not have their basic uses for water fulfilled. Many populations throughout the world do not have clean water to drink, bath or cook with; instead, they must use unsanitary water where they are victims to infectious diseases such as Hepatitis A, Influenza A and West Nile-like virus (South Africa. Water Research Commission.).

These diseases contribute to increased infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates (Garrett, Ogutu et al. 2008) specifically due to the increased diarrheal risk and other infectious diseases.

Unsanitary water and unsafe sanitary practices not only contributes to the increases in mortality and morbidity rates, it also contributes to the social, economic and political instability of the country. However, cost effective changes in water sanitation practices, such as installing latrines, self-chlorination practices for households, and improvements in irrigation techniques would increase the livelihood and economy of developing countries.

The inequality of clean water and access is evident specifically in developed countries such as the United States and Great Britain. Furthermore, the global imbalance affects how much water is available in certain countries as well; As Pachuri indicated, “With 31 percent of global freshwater resources, Latin America has 12 times more water per person than South Asia. Some places, such as Brazil and Canada, get far more water than they can use; others, such as countries in the Middle East, get much less than they need.” The effects of water depletion and water scarcity contribute to even more food insecurity in areas already marginalized by poverty.

Through increased awareness of water usage, consumption and sanitation methods, individuals in developed and middle-income countries can make small changes to their lifestyle that will improve the quality of life for those globally. If not then, we will continue on a road to disaster and contribute to continued health crises and food insecurity.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buying Local--by Lisa J Scott

On average, our food travels approximately 1,500 miles to get from the farm to your fork.  During that long distance you lose essential vitamins contained in your produce, contribute to the mounting levels of greenhouse gases, and increase the use of plastic packaging methods that are maintained to keep the food you are transporting from spoiling.
Instead of going to your local grocery store to purchase that apple, try going to your local farmer's market or Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) program.  You are not only going to be contributing to the livelihood of local farmers but will more than likely be eating foods that are in season and eating foods that have not lost most of its vital nutrients during that voyage from the farm in Costa Rica to your table.