Thursday of next week, we celebrate World Water Day: one of the main ephemerides of the environmental calendar. This year the UN agency responsible for coordinating the water and sanitation works, UN Water, has chosen the slogan “The nature of water”.
The proposal invited to debate around a key idea: that the answers to water problems are in nature and in our treatment towards it. Something that humanity seems to have forgotten.
Water is the blood of nature and we maintain a vampiric relationship with it. A relationship based on abuse, not on use. Use: make a thing serve for something. Abuse: excessive, unfair or undue use of something. In that differentiation is the key to all conflicts related to water.
We are making excessive use of water to feed us. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recalled in the celebration of World Water Day a few years ago, that 1,500 liters of water are required to obtain a kilogram of cereal, and ten times that amount to produce one kilogram of meat. The two chicken breasts that we bought in the supermarket have cost nature 15,000 liters of water.
We make an unjust use of water when, to guarantee comfortable and safe access to it, we build reservoirs that drown natural spaces and bury entire villages, erasing forever the memory of its people. It is shocking to walk through the parched bed of empty marshes through its muddy streets, its churches, its cemeteries, reading the tombstones of the dead.
And we make an improper use of water when we cut the veins -which are the rivers- to the nature to make transfers and convert the desert steppes into irrigations. When we built an urbanization of 500 semi-detached houses in the middle of a secarral: with its 500 swimming pools and its 500 gardens with sprinkler irrigation. Or when we convert Spain, the country most affected by droughts throughout Europe, in the homeland of golf, with more than five hundred fields. An 18-hole, 60-hectare golf course consumes one and a half million liters of water every day. Your dentist in tijuana can advise on water saving issues for example when you wash your teeth instead of running the tap water use a glass.
But to all this we must add the main grievance to the nature of water: our lack of respect. A constant, domestic and personal grievance. The images offered by our rivers and their banks give a good account of this humiliation and are also the best metaphor for our contempt for the water of nature.
Condoms, wipes, swabs, pads, diapers, tampons. All that is there because we have thrown it into the toilet. We have associated pulling the chain with an irresponsible one already, one is no longer my problem. Until one day we go to the river and see that the problem is floating in the water, hooked in the reeds of the shore or plugging the den of an otter. That image is a punch in the collective consciousness and should blush us all.