Necessity of life slowly wasting away

0
45

Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier


Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

Most scientists believe water is essential to life. When they look for other stars that may have planets around them, one of the first questions is “can that planet support life?” One key marker for potential life is the availability of water in its three states: liquid, solid and gas. From space, planet earth seems well endowed with water; three quarters of its surface is covered with H2O. The hydrological cycle would seem to assure the presence of fresh water for life on land, but there is a problem – a very big problem. Our water resources are
polluted and becoming more so. In
addition, human management and use of water resources is proving to be wasteful
and harmful.
To begin, recent research has drawn attention to ground water problems. Tom Gleeson of the University of Victoria and a group of scientists determined that the water in aquifers and wells used by humans is a non-renewable resource
that could run out. Humans are withdrawing the water much faster than it can be replenished by natural processes such as rain and snow melt.  In Canada, approximately one-third of potable water comes from ground water.  This implies that, at some point in the future, there will be no ground water available for human use.
Another example of the failure of humans to manage water resources properly is given by the case of (supposedly) biodegradable plastics. These plastics were developed and are used on the assumption that they are biodegradable and, therefore, non-polluting.  A recent report from the United Nations states that plastics labelled as biodegradable rarely disintegrate. They need to be exposed to prolonged temperatures above fifty degrees (centigrade), which doesn’t happen in nature. The resulting plastic waste ends up in the oceans at the rate of twenty million tonnes each year.  The damage to marine life and water quality is devastating.
In Canada, the water problem is most evident in First Nations communities where 73% of water systems are at high or medium risk of contamination. More than one hundred of these communities are on a boil-water advisory and have been for many years. But, even off First Nations reservations, there are serious problems. Recently, Montreal had to divert five
billion litres of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River because the city has an inadequate and obsolete water supply and treatment system. Sadly, Montreal is only one of many Canadian towns and cities dealing with poor water management issues.
Canada is water rich in comparison to most other nations of the world, but we also have one of the poorest records for water management among the advanced industrial nations. Yet, all Canadians
recognize the need for a good, safe water supply. Our policies must change if we are to avoid the serious problems of
contaminated water.