Water Closet for 7-31-15
On 18 June the Vatican published Pope Francis’ encyclical entitled Laudato Si’. The Pope with his moral authority has come down emphatically against man’s adverse role in climate change and environmental degradation. In 74 pages without mincing words the Pope, who chose Francis of Assisi’s name, tells us what we humans are doing to and what we should be doing for life on our precious planet. The strongly worded document is addressed to us all, not just Catholics. The encyclical is now being read in the Water Closet thanks to John Bacon, leader of the Middleton Stream Team from 1998 to 2013 and a stalwart member of St. Agnes Church. On request he found an English translation on line and printed it in bold, good sized print for old eyes.
The requesting Closeteer, who is carefully reading the encyclical, thinks all people young and old should read it especially the score of Presidential candidates. Its language is plain and not technical. After finishing, the Closeteer may write a review for the Water Closet.
Here in the States environmentalists wish the timing of publication hadn’t coincided with news of major Supreme Court decisions, of presidential campaign announcements, and of the impending treaty with Iran. The media largely ignored the Pope’s important warning and plea.
A sample from Laudato Si’, a section about water, our subject, is presented below. The very strong five page introduction should be read first; however, it is too long for our weekly blog.
LAUDATO SI’ (Praise be with you):
ON THE CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME
Section II of Chapter 1 – THE ISSUE OF WATER
Other indicators of the present situation (environmental degradation) have to do with the depletion of natural resources. We all know that it is not possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society; where the habit of wasting and discarding has reached unprecedented levels. The exploitation of the planet has already exceeded acceptable limits and we still have not solved the problem of poverty.
Fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance; since it is indispensible for human life and for the supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Sources of fresh water are necessary for health care, agriculture and industry. Water supplies used to be relatively constant, but now in many places demand exceeds the sustainable supply, with dramatic consequences in the short and long term. Large cities dependent on significant supplies of water have experienced periods of shortage, and at critical moments these have not always been administered with sufficient oversight and impartiality. Water poverty especially affects Africa where large sectors of the population have no access to safe drinking water or experience droughts which impede agricultural production. Some countries have areas rich in water while others endure drastic scarcity.
One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. Every day, unsafe water results in many deaths and the spread of water related diseases, including those caused by microorganisms and chemical substances. Dysentery and cholera, linked to inadequate hygiene and water supplies, are a significant cause of suffering and of infant mortality. Underground water resources in many places are threatened but the pollution produced in certain mining, farming and industrial activities, especially in countries lacking adequate regulation or controls. It is not only a question of industrial waste. Detergents and chemical products, commonly used in many places in the world, continue to pour into our rivers, lakes and seas.
Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of our human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. That debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor. But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in the developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behavior within a context of great inequality.
Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century.
(This Water Closet ends here at the end of Section II. Section III of Chapter 1 “The Loss of Biodiversity” which follows is very important and interesting. The encyclical may be revisited here in the Water Closet after it has been studied in its entirety. We hope by then readers will have read Laudato Si’ on their own. It is clearly addressed to all humans.)
Entire encyclical available here for download in pdf.
WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:||April||May||June||July|
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches||4.53||4.06||3.95||3.89|
|2015 Central Watershed Actual||2.38||0.94||5.87||2.6 as of 7/27**|
Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For July 28, 2015 Normal . . . 6.5 CFS Current Rate . . . 6.0 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru June.
**Middleton Stream Team is source of actual precipitation data for July.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.