Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Water is life

In the search for life outside planet earth, scientists always look out for water.  As this commentary author put it, "the Nasa mantra for looking for life in outer space is to “follow the water”.  Without water, you and I won't be here.

Water being fundamental to our very existence is why we worry so much about humans having access to water, and why fighting about that access also matters.  It matters a lot.  It is a strange irony that we don't fight enough to protect our water bodies, nor do we seem to worry about the impact that climate change has on the water cycle.

It is a tragic irony that the ones who seem to be leading the fight on this are the indigenous peoples.  We "modern" post-industrial humans couldn't be bothered, apparently!

Here in the US:
The Lakota phrase “Mní wičhóni,” or “Water is life,” has become a new national protest anthem.
It was chanted by 5,000 marchers at the Native Nations March in Washington, D.C. on March 10, and during hundreds of protests across the United States in the last year. “Mní wičhóni” became the anthem of the almost year-long struggle to stop the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River in North Dakota.
It is a long (oral) history:
For thousands of years, Native American tribes across the Great Plains developed their own methods of living with the natural world and its limited water supply. They learned both through observation and experiment, arguably a process quite similar to what we might call science today. They also learned from their religious ideas, passed on from generation to generation in the form of stories.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, in New Zealand:
The New Zealand parliament passed the bill recognising the Whanganui River, in North Island, as a living entity.
Long revered by New Zealand's Maori people, the river's interests will now be represented by two people.
The Maori had been fighting for over 160 years to get this recognition for their river, a minister said.
When I read that news, I was excited enough to tweet that!
"I know the initial inclination of some people will say it's pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality," said New Zealand's Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.
"But it's no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies."
Exactly!  If a corporation can be given rights as a person, then a river merits personhood even more than Shell does!

A river with rights.  How about that!
The Whanganui River, New Zealand's third-longest, will be represented by one member from the Maori tribes, known as iwi, and one from the Crown.
The recognition allows it to be represented in court proceedings.
I tweeted my ecstatic frame of mind upon reading another news items about Whanganui, which included the Maori saying, "I am the river and the river is me."

Here is to hoping that the rest of us will also join the indigenous people from around the world and fight for water, which makes this planet a wonderful pale blue dot in the vast space.

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