Discussion: Water Scarcity
CAMDEN CONFERENCE DISCUSSION SERIES: Fresh Water Scarcity – The Global Crisis of Our Time
Join the Conversation!
Fresh Water Scarcity Discussions have now concluded, but the information and resources are below:
Over the past the past 60 years, the fresh water available per person has decreased fourfold. Of the water that is available, about 70% is already used for agriculture. Many rivers no longer flow all the way to the sea, half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared, and major groundwater aquifers are being mined unsustainably, with water tables in some parts of the world declining by as much as one meter per year. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has described water as “the biggest environmental and political challenge of our time.” Is he correct?
Fresh Water Scarcity – The Global Crisis of Our Time is the second topic covered in the new Discussion Series launched this year by the Camden Conference. Join the Conversation! The discussions are like a book group, requiring preparation by reading short articles/viewing brief videos that form the basis of your participation. Estimated time to prepare for this topic is 53 minutes. There are three articles — 4 pages, 13 pages and 5 pages — and a 2-1/2-minute video. We would like to emphasize that there are additional articles and videos listed for this topic that you may want to view to enhance your knowledge. A facilitator from the local community will be there to keep the discussion on track.
The articles and videos are listed below, or you may click here to download the complete reading list. Alternatively, a reading copy of the essential articles will be available at the library circulation desk.
Essential Articles and Videos
1. Why Care About Water (2010). National Geographic video. 2:29 minutes.
A brief pictorial depiction with accompanying narrative of the threats to freshwater around the world.
Facilitator’s note: This is useful as an opening piece on why water is important, particularly in areas where there are issues surrounding availability.
2. The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water (2008). Article in Foreign Policy in Focus. Maude Barlow, 4 pages.
The article, an excerpt of Chapter 5 in Maude Barlow’s book, Blue Covenant, identifies three water crises—dwindling freshwater supplies, inequitable access to water and the corporate control of water—as the greatest threat of our time to the planet and to our survival and makes a case for alternative water futures.
Facilitator’s note: While this article is 5 years old, it very clearly illustrates the problems ahead of the world, particularly the global south, and proposes a “blue covenant” that people and their governments recognize the right for everyone to have clean water, and find peaceful solutions to water disputes between countries.
Note: To print out this article, click on the small printer icon that appears just below the title and description of the article.
3. Water—Adapting to a New Normal (2010). Excerpted chapter from the Post Carbon Reader Series: Water; Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises. Sandra Postel, 13 pages.
This chapter depicts factors that contribute to water shortages, including policies and rules that encourage inefficiency and misallocation. Sandra Postel is a leading expert in international water issues.
Facilitator’s note: A good way to read the Postel article is to first look at the tables and charts, and then read the article. The tables and charts alert the reader to the important issues.
Note: To print out this article, simply print the page using your computer’s print command.
4. Fresh Water (April 2010). Article in National Geographic. Barbara Kingsolver, 5 pages.
While the amount of moisture on Earth has not changed since dinosaurs drank millions of years ago, will there be enough water for a more crowded world? The author contends that civilization has been slow to give up the myth of the Earth’s infinite generosity. The “Tragedy of the Commons” demonstrates that where rationale pursuit of individual self-interest leads to collective ruin, problems can only be solved by “a change of human values or ideas of morality”.
Facilitator’s note: The subheading under “Fresh Water” acknowledges the finite nature of water and wonders whether there will be enough for a more crowded world. This is an important lens to consider as the article is read.
Note: To print out this article, click on the small printer icon that appears at the bottom of the first page just below the word “CONTINUE.”
For assistance or more information about the Camden Conference Discussion Series, please contact the Camden Conference Office by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 207-236-1034.
The 27th Annual Camden Conference will be held February 21 through 23, 2014. The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend conference. For more information, visit www.camdenconference.org, email email@example.com, or call 207-236-1034.