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Editor: Joyce Bates
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The Voice of Sanity
THE NEWSLETTER OF THE PIEDMONT SECULAR HUMANISTS
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Second Saturday Brunch, April 14th, 10:00AM to 12:00noon, at Denny's restaurant, 2521 Wade Hampton Blvd.
The Non-theist groups get-togethers have been changed to 2:00PM every Sunday afternoon at the Brew and Ewe; 108 West Broad Street; Greenville.
Socrates Club group meets the first and third Wednesdays of the month 7:00PM at Earth Fair; 3 Pelham Road, #3620; Greenville.
The Free-Thought group meets every other Thursday (March 1st, 15th and 29th,); 7:00PM at Bailey’s; 2409 Laurens Road; Greenville.
The American Humanist Association will have their 71st annual conference June 7th 2012 in New Orleans
Global Thinking—About Water
It is difficult to truly appreciate the impact ordinary water has on civilized life. We take it for granted for cooking, showering, doing laundry, and watering our lawns, but otherwise we aren’t aware of its huge impact.
Our supply comes from the watershed then empties into Table Rock, and North Saluda reservoirs among other reservoirs and lakes. The Greenville local water control center is located off route 276, just south of Marietta. It has buried structures three stories high with six-foot diameter intake pipes to receive water from these local reservoirs. No one will notice it is there. But, just imagine a control chamber 25 stories high, the size of two football fields with intake from a 24-foot diameter pipe sixty miles long. There is such a delivery system being built to take water from the Catskill Mountains to New York City. Construction on it was initiated in the 1970s to replace a dangerously leaky system. It will be completed in 2020. No one will notice that, either. Both New York and Greenville are lucky because they are in the rainy Eastern United States.
When we look at our water bills we see the treatment of sewage far exceeds the price of the water delivery. Yes, it is expensive, but we wouldn’t want to go back to the 1960s. At that time household wastewater was carefully treated, but waste from manufacturing was not. One river, the Cuyahoga in Ohio, actually caught fire because so much of the industrial waste it contained was volatile. Incidents like this caused people to realize that water not only functions to make our sweet tea and do our laundry, but it is required for the production of all our food (irrigation), and the manufacture of our clothing, furniture, building materials, electronics and energy.
We have won the water lottery with our location at the headwaters of our drainage basin, but we have to share its flow with everyone downstream. That means, all our manufacturing and household water use must be cleaned up enough to be potable again. Additionally, some runoff will soak into the ground and eventually into important underground aquifers. One such aquifer is the Floridan, an essential but unsung water source for southeast coastal populations from Mississippi to South Carolina, and including all of Florida. It receives rainwater from the Savannah and Chattahoochee (Atlanta’s water source) basins. The Floridan shows us that rivers and aquifers cover huge geographic areas that do not respect political or economic boundaries. Therefore, no single political or economic entity can claim full control of these waters without damaging the network of co-operation required to keep the civilization they support going.
Globally here is how the continents rate in water richness versus population. Notice the numbers are for runoff (the part we use), not rain:
Asia, 33 percent of the world’s runoff with 60 percent of its population
South America, 28 percent of the world’s runoff with 6 percent of its population
North America, 18 percent of the world’s runoff with 8 percent of its population
Africa, 9 percent of the world’s runoff with 13 percent of its population
Europe 7 percent of the world’s runoff with 12 percent of its population
Australia, 5 percent of the world’s runoff with one-half of one percent its population
North and South America are the winners with low population pressure in respect to their water resources. Australia is too, but only because its harsh dryness restricts where large populations can live, and because the Australian government has made sure that none of the resource is wasted. The numbers above explain why countries such as China, India and Pakistan, only to mention a few, are in a constant struggle to provide potable water to their citizens.
One of the biggest reasons for the hostilities between India and Pakistan back in the 1950s was water. The two countries shared the Indus River watershed and did not have sufficient ways of capturing Himalayan melt-waters and seasonal monsoon rains for controlling this system. Torrential rains, flooding and drought always kept farmers from providing enough grain to feed their communities. The Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 and the huge dams including the gigantic Mangla Dam first seemed a success in alleviating food imports for both countries. Runoff was reduced, wheat production increased by a factor of six, and electricity was brought to local villages. But now the system is in disrepair (as little as 30 percent of canal waters now reach the root zones of crops) and 25 percent of Pakistan’s crop potential is lost because of salt. Some think it is because no one really owns any part of the system and therefore no one takes responsibility for it. To add insult to injury, statistics from 2002 show Pakistani women giving birth to an average of 6.6 babies per woman, a birth rate unsustainable by the country’s present agricultural conditions.
In the 1990s, because of excessive water uptake by industry, China’s Yellow River failed to reach the major wheat producing province of Shandong during its growing season. Shandong comprises the delta area of the river as it reaches the Yellow Sea. In 1995 the peak area of dryness extended for 440 miles. The alarmed Beijing government rationed use of the river so that some water would always be available for Shandong. However, even with total management the pressure from population, industry, and agriculture has pretty much tapped the Yellow River out. The Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River has problems too. Rising water pressure when the dam was being filled caused mudslides and huge waves. Problems arose with water pollution because the dam slowed the dispersal of industrial and household waste. And downstream, in Shanghai, the reduced force of flow in the river allowed incursion of salt water from the China Sea jeopardizing local water supplies.
So, locally we are lucky. But even though water has no real price, except when it’s bottled, we still have to treat it as a valuable commodity and not waste it. JB
Ref. Discovering the Unknown Landscape; Ann Vileisis; 1997; Island Press
Mirage; Cynthia Barnett; 2007; University of Michigan Press
Tapped Out; Dr. Paul Simon; 1998; Welcome Rain Publishers
Water; Steven Sullivan; 2010; Harper-Collins
Water Wars; Diane Raines Ward; 2002; Penguin-Putnam
Ever wonder why you’ve been confused about the story of the Resurrection?
This may be the part of the reason why.
c. three women (Mark 16:1);
d. more than three women (Luke 23:55-56; 24:1,10)