Our Water, Our Land

by Hannah Gartner

At the beginning of the month President Obama rejected the proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have run crude oil from the Canadian Tar Sands in Alberta to the gulf coast refineries outside of Houston, TX. Over the past few years this pipeline has become a pet project for environmentalist and conservatives alike. One of the reasons that environmentalists have been so adamantly against the Keystone pipeline was its planned path through the Ogallala Aquifer.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a 174,000-square-mile reservoir which lies beneath the states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, and Wyoming. It supplies water to millions of people, and irrigates the fields of farmers in this region. Lying beneath the earth, it is easy to forget that it is there, yet it is so important that it was able to play a role in halting the creation of Keystone XL.

There are many ways in which one can know the world around them. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, most see it as a man-made, concrete jungle. It is more common for someone to know every player in the world series than where their water comes from. The danger than becomes that things like endless tap water are taken for granted, always expected and not preserved.WWF

The United States Great Plains; Source: World Wildlife Fund

The Ogallala Aquifer is just one of hundreds that lie beneath the surface of North America. The map below shows the vast extent of land carrying these underground pools in the United States alone. Aquifers are formed when rock is porous enough to let water flow through. The layer of rock and water that is formed is called the water table. Depending on the type of rock, that water will run faster or slower. This also dictates how quickly the water in an aquifer can replenish itself. Through clay this can take a very long time, while a sandstone water table may refill much quicker. This is incredibly important to think about when using an aquifer as a water source.

aquifers in the US

Aquifers in the United States; Source: USGS

It would be amazing if we were able to say that the Ogallala Aquifer is safe now that Keystone XL has been vetoed, but this is not the truth. Since the 1940’s Midwest farmers have used this water source to grow vast amounts of corn, cotton, wheat, and cattle. The  current estimate is that 30 percent of the water in this aquifer is already depleted, and it is projected that this percentage will only rise over the coming years. As of yet that farmers and citizens who utilize the Ogallala Aquifer are not taking action to stem this problem.

Even if you live very far away from this particular aquifer, there is a lesson to be learned here. The Earth is plentiful, but it is not endless. It is important to understand the land and water systems were you do live though. This may mean looking beyond the surface to what is hidden underground. Take the time to do your research, become an informed citizen, and try to find the ways to interact with your land in the most appropriate ways.

 

Listen, Talk and Understand

By Pooja Mishra

Heavy rainfalls and a large amount of debris precipitated a muddy flood in Southern California last week on October 16th. Hundreds of people were trapped and stuck in their homes, cars. While many of them have been rescued, the rescue efforts are still ongoing.
Similar torrential rains had struck South Carolina on October 4, 2015. The flood had caused damage to many shelters. The whole South Carolina was gripped by floodwater. According to the National Weather Service, that day was the wettest day in the history of Southern Carolina.

 
The weather pattern is not a local phenomenon. 11 people died and 65,000 villagers left their home as a typhoon battered northern Philippines on October 18, 2015. It is a scary though that these floods might be just a preview of what is coming in near futureSource Luis Sinco and Los Angeles Times“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”
These words of Albert Einstein say everything about life. It describes the connection of a man with nature. Nature has all the answers to your questions; whether these are related to you, your life, your relations or your work. All we need to do is listen, talk to and understand it.

 
Everybody loves to get out into the nature and feel the real charm of life. Living in Canada, I am fortunate to have so much beauty and splendor of nature all around me. The autumn season is here. The crisp and cool breeze makes us feel the summer is gone and fall is in the air. In Canada, autumn is the third season of the year. It is the time when leaves start to turn in different color red, yellow, orange and brown. It is amazing, an awesome creation of God. The glory of nature mesmerizes one and all. We forget everything in the lap of nature and just enjoy the pleasure of being there.

 
Nature is derived from the Latin word Natura, which means birth. It has its own way of existence and the mountains, beeches, hills, forest, rivers, sunrise, sunset, flowers, clouds in the sky, various season and so on together make an incredible spectacle. It is a privilege being surrounded by these. But as the saying goes, every privilege comes with some responsibilities.

 
Ed Begley Jr once said, “I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something by nature we call it progress.”
Every time we build a new house, new road, parking space or even a concrete over a garden we astray ourselves to think that we are making the world a better place to live in. The natural resources are not infinite. They are limited and the way we are using it, that day is not far when we will have nothing to pass on to our future generations.
These days’ floods are the most frequent natural disaster worldwide. Recent splurge in population and the changes in land use patterns are the main causes of flood.
We are constantly cutting down trees and plants for our daily needs. One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second and agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. We get wooden furniture, decorative items for the interior of our house and offices but we do not realize that we are cutting our own feet by making wood from trees and plants. If the current rate of deforestation continues, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all the rainforest on the earth. Cutting of trees can be avoided if we cut down our materialistic needs and shift our focus in different direction.

Source National Bank and Nature Conservancy
According to The World Counts, 13 million hectares of forest have been converted for other uses or destroy by natural causes. We cannot deny the fact that our environment is constantly changing. Global warming is slowly becoming a more daunting threat with each passing day. Our environment is warming up and we are definitely responsible for it. Since the industrial revolution and the large scale of burning fossil fuels has increased the amount of heat in the atmosphere has also increased by 40 per cent.

 
All across the world people are facing different kind of environmental problems every day. Some of them are small and localized. Whenever a natural calamity hits a particular area, we talk about it for a few days, feel miserable and then forget. We never think that somewhere we are also responsible for that. We are making this earth not habitable by neglecting the nature and its requirements. From time to time nature warns us in many ways; we need to listen to it and make some changes before we reach a point where we won’t have anything left except regret.

 
As human, the earth is our home. This is the place where we live, eat, enjoy, raise our children and dream for their healthy, safe and beautiful future. Our entire life is dependent on the well-being of earth, environment and all the species. It is the home of all natural beauty that we praise. But the relationship with nature is not a one sided relationship. We need to form a closer bond with nature, we have to live within it to understand and feel it; not only for the betterment of our life but the lives of our future generations.

Technology Fostering Water Sanitation

By Marcelo Kawanami

Technology has already proven its importance in the daily life of millions of people and it is becoming an essential component to leverage social development programs. In June, I had the opportunity to go to Cisco Live event and talk with Keri Kugler, Senior Manager of Monitor and Evaluation at Water for People.

Water for People is a nonprofit international organization with the goal to provide access to clean water and adequate sanitation to all people. Currently, the organization is in nine countries around the world: Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and India.waterforpeople_cisco

Through its Corporate Social Responsibility, Cisco, one of the largest Americanmultinational technology companies in the world, has partnered with Water for People to support the organization in the development of a mobile application named FLOW. FLOW, which stands for Field Level Operations Watch, is a mobile application that collects, manages, and analyzes data on the condition of water from remote locations. Cisco supported Water for People not only with funding but also by offering expertise in areas such as program monitoring and technology implementation.

The private-NGO relationship between Cisco and Water for People is a benchmark that should be followed by other companies, especially in the technology space. Many NGOs lack specific knowledge such as technology, or even strategy to foster their initiatives. Thus, many of them rely on collaborations from the private sector to achieve their goals – a reality that dramatically changed over the last 10 years, when the relationship between NGOs and the private sector used to be combative rather than collaborative.

For more information on Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility: http://csr.cisco.com/

For more information on Water for People: http://www.waterforpeople.org/

Water Fact Sheet

By Marcelo Kawanami

Lately, major cities such as Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Los Angeles in the US have suffered from severe drought. As the problem increases worldwide, people are more concerned towards the water topic. Thus, we developed a simple infographic fact sheet with data that showcases how important water conservation is.

 

Ducks Unlimited Canada

By Marcelo Kawanami

Hi everyone! Well, this has been a super busy month and I’m sorry for the absence here in the blog. Just to start with, I would like to talk about the tree planting and wetland restoration initiative from the Green Party members at Gamiing Nature Centre. The 1st Bobcaygeon Scout also supported the work and the group removed invasive species and planted a variety of trees and shrub species.

Today I came across a video from Ducks Unlimited, which is one of the global leading organizations on wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Ducks Unlimited Canada recently posted a video talking about the wetlands in Alberta and the impact that it has on biodiversity, flood protection and water quality.

It is a very short video, but that it is worth watching to know more about the organization and the work that they do in North America. If you want to know more, I invite you all to visit their webpage: http://www.ducks.ca/

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2015

By Marcelo Kawanami

On March 20 2015, United Nation released its 2015 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR 2015), titled Water for a Sustainable World. The report brings a throughout analysis on the importance of the water as a vital resource for life. It also describes the challenges for accessible and clean water from three dimensions: poverty and social equity, economic development, and ecosystems.
I selected some key findings from the report that I believe were quite interesting (and concerning):

Picture1– Around the world, 748 million people lack access to an improved drinking water source, while billions more lack drinking water that is really safe. In 2012, 2.5 billion people did not have access to an improved sanitation facility.

– Groundwater supplies are diminishing, with an estimate 20% of the world’s aquifers being over-exploited (Gleeson et al., 2012), leading to serious consequences such as land subsidence and saltwater intrusion in coastal areas (USGS, 2013).

– Achieving more efficient water use is crucial considering that production and consumption of agricultural products alone account for over 70% of water withdrawals in many developing countries.

If you like to download the full report, please United Nation World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) homepage: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/wwap/wwdr/2015-water-for-a-sustainable-world/

I am Water

By Marcelo Kawanami

Last week, charity: water, a non-profit organization focused on the fund of water projects in developing nations, posted a powerful short video showcasing the importance of water and the impact that this essential natural resource has in the life of our planet.

One of my favorite statements of the video: “It takes a great wall to hold me back, but I can be held by a human hand”.

Using the celebrity status for a good cause!

By Marcelo Kawanami

Hi everyone! It’s been a while that I do not write here, but the end of the year is always busy. But this is not an excuse. I was browsing the new publications and insights developed by top strategic consulting firms today – as this is part of my daily job as a market researcher and consultant – and I crossed a very interesting interview that actor Matt Damon and Gary White gave to Mckinsey & Company.

Making Water Flow

In addition to his successful acting career, Matt Damon is also the co-founder of the nonprofit organization Water.org, that works on projects to find sustainable solution to solve the global water and sanitation crisis.

This interview was published on April 2014, and  it is very interesting to see both interviewees debating about the importance of water in the world, the current impact of lack of access to water and sanitation, and their strategic approach to tackle this global issue, which they make very clear that is not charity.

You can click the video above to watch the interview of the following link: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/winning_in_emerging_markets/making_water_flow_an_interview_with_matt_damon_and_gary_white

NGOs teaming up!

By Marcelo Kawanami

The preservation of land, water, oceans, rivers and lakes are the core for Gamiing Nature Centre. Working closely with the local community, Gamiing has developed a set of programs such as trainings, workshops, recreational programs and events in order to educate the participants on the importance of land preservation and the environment.

We are also constantly benchmarking what similar organizations are developing regarding the topics that are important to us. Apart from the big global ones, we are always observing and collaborating with the local small ones like us!Imagem2

Today, I would like mention some these organizations that do amazing things for the environment. I selected some international ones that might not be well known to you, and also some very nice local ones with which your support will certainly make a difference!

Ramsar (Switzerland): http://www.ramsar.org/
The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Imagem1PFE (France): http://www.partenariat-francais-eau.fr/
The French Water Partnership (FWP – Partenariat Français pour l’Eau), a non-profit association, is a muti – actor platform which works on conveying key consensual messages on the governance and management of water resources in the international arena.

OCC (Uruguay): http://www.occ.org.uy/
Local organization from Uruguay (South America) that fights for the conservation of the oceans with a focus on the white whales.

BHNS (India): http://bnhs.org/bnhs/
One of the largest local Indian organizations, BHNS is a pan-India wildlife research organization, that has been promoting the cause of nature conservation for the past 131 years.

Creatures of Light

By Marcelo Kawanami

Today I would like to share with you the amazing exhibition that the Canadian Museum of Nature is currently hosting on bioluminescence creatures. Bioluminescence is light produced by living organisms.

Researchers estimate that between 80 and 90 percent of deep-dwelling animals are bioluminous, creating light by mixing the pigment luciferin with luciferase, the enzyme that makes it glow. The light tends to green and blue, colors that travel far in seawater. Glowing helps attract mates, lure prey or confound predators.

This particular exhibition will be open just until November 9th 2014. For further information, check the following link: http://nature.ca/en/plan-your-visit/creatures-light