Imagine the world in a few hundred years. How does it look to you? Does it have plenty of water and life? Some people believe that the Earth will soon run out of water and living beings will not be able to survive.
Water is essential to life. About 60% of the human body is made up of water and not a single human being on this planet would be able to live without it. However, because of systems installed to retain water and develop an abundance of it, places in India are facing water famines.
Typically, water is a renewable source and it can usually be renewed by the water cycle. According to Vandana Shiva, “water circulates from sea to clouds, to lands and rivers, to lakes and to underground streams, and ultimately returns to the ocean, generating life wherever it goes (183).” With this natural flow of water, water can and should be accessible forever in any of its forms.
Many people fail to see how the water cycle works because sometimes water can be underground in things such as soil or rocks. Some people believe that the water cycle needs human intervention to be able to drink it or have a substantial amount of it. There are many things that people have done using science and technology that has caused a water crisis in India. By creating dams, diverting of rivers, deforestation and cultivating water intense crops (like sugarcane) all contribute to the crisis. These are all maldevelopments that are severely hindering the water cycle.
Shiva speaks about how men have created this problem and how they attempt to fix it. However, the more they try to fix the problem, the more of a disaster it becomes. They attempt to build more and more systems to fix the flow of water instead of letting the water flow naturally. According to Shiva, the Ethiopian famine is a result of the damming of the Awash River. The damming of the river was supposed to help provide water to crops such as a sugarcane and cotton. However, instead of fixing the problem it only made it worse and has reduce the amount of water within the river (194). The fact that men believe they know the earth better than nature does, confuses me personally. Who are we to decide what is best for the natural water flow. There has to be a point where humans stop intervening with the environment and nature. If we don’t, no one really knows what will happen. As Shiva states “the masculine project becomes an endless spiral of new technology which demand more water, further diminish and deplete water resources, and change nature’s abundance to irreversible scarcity (214).”
What Shiva is really trying to make clear is that because of the interventions to the water cycle, women have been displaced. Men believe that they are experts on water, but in actuality in India women are really the experts. Previous to this man made problem, women were the providers of water. This was women’s central role in society. They had an effective partnership with nature which helped to increase the amount of water available without other unnatural interferences (206). Since all the water has been dried up, women’s roles have been significantly reduced. Women had their own ways of purifying the water to make it drinkable but men think they know better and ignore women’s voices. Clearly, women’s opinions should have been listened to because if they were then the water crisis might never have occurred. Since women are no longer able to provide for their families, they are forced to move in order to find water and avoid famines. Those who choose to stay now have to walk many miles just to get water. Why are women not seen as essential? Is it the culture?
Women do not stand by and watch blindly. They stand up for what they believe and know is right. For example, the women of the Chipko movement blockade mining operations in 1986 in the Nahi-Bakot area. The mining, they believed, had destroyed the forests which then reduce the water supply. These women watched their lives be destroyed by this (208). By standing up against men, these women clearly demonstrated their bravery, concern and knowledge of the water cycle. These men did not understand that rocks play an important part in the water cycle but the women did.
Although this isn’t mentioned in the book, I think it is important that we look at our own water usage. Shiva speaks about a water crisis in India but because of our usage, this can happen here in America too. In America, many people take their water supply for granted. Many of us take long showers, use dishwashers, washing machines, flush toilets, water our lawns and do much more that involves large sums of water. At minimum a shower uses approximately 2.5 gallons of water per minute and a dishwasher uses about 15 gallons of water a load. Washing machines can use 30 to 40 gallons a load and every time someone flushes a toilet about 1.6 to 6 gallons of water is wasted. Even when someone water’s their lawn they can use anywhere from 3 to 10 gallons a minute (http://fi.edu/guide/schutte/howmuch.html). As you can see, all of these products use a substantial amount of water that Americans never think twice about using. Do you ever stop to think about how the amount of water you use affects the environment or the future of our water supply? While Americans use water and treat it like its everlasting, other areas in the world lack water because of things such as new technology and deforestation. If Americans continue to use water the way we do now it is possible that in the future there will be no fresh water supply, as it is in other parts of the world. This could be us and I don’t think many people realize that.