There are a lot of numbers and statistics being hurled at us these days. And, in a changing world, and with an increasing ability to gather and analyze data electronically, that seems logical enough. It’s probably an essential tool in helping us to determine the decisions that need to be made for us and the planet’s well-being.
One figure that has recently been tossed our way in an ad on TV is that Canada has 20 per cent of the world’s supply of fresh water. It doesn’t say whether or not that includes ice and snow, or whether it fluctuates with the seasons. Whatever the case, that’s a significant amount of a very important resource.
It becomes even more significant when it is paired with another statistic. Canada’s population of almost 38 million is a mere 0.48 per cent of that of the whole world. We’re big geographically, but puny when compared with other countries on the basis of population. We have more geography than we know what to do with, apparently.
However, back to that ad, or infomercial. It suggests that we should be frugal in our use of water. “Don’t waste water by rinsing dishes,” it says, and throws out a figure of how many litres of water that act of responsible conservation would save. There is no data given for the savings obtained by taking one-minute showers.
But wait a minute. How do you save water? What happens to it if you don’t use it? Where does it go? Water doesn’t accumulate or disappear. It’s not a finite resource. It just gets recycled, doesn’t it? Wasn’t that the science lesson, complete with pictures and charts, about the ‘water cycle’ back in Grade 6 or 7? All we do with water is use it and, maybe/probably, abuse it. All we can really save is the energy it takes in not using as much as we do. In washing dishes, or showering, for example.
Maybe what Canada with its overabundant aquatic resources should be considering is not how to save water, but how to share it. If we have so much water, there are probably other people and countries who lack it. Pipelines and tankers filled with water would probably have little difficulty in getting approval from environmental boards and committees. Or would they?
Jesus suggests that sharing even a cup of cold water would be a good and charitable thing to do. (Matthew 10:42).
Check out bottled water at the local ‘big box’ place if you‘re curious. It sells water imported from at least six different countries. One brand at almost $3 a litre, seems a bit outlandish though. Especially when it comes from our nearest neighbour instead of some exotic place like Fiji.
Rev. Harry Kleinhuis is a columnist with Metroland Media. His column, Meditations, appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.