Eye on Water


As a result of climate instability and population growth the world’s water-deprived regions now face the social upheaval, conflict and suffering that comes with water shortage. The future looks dire. Of the three billion people projected to be added to the planet over the next half century, most will be born in countries already dealing with severe water shortage. Over the coming years increased urbanization, industrialization, and climate instability will drive more and people from small towns and villages into the large urban centers where their water use skyrockets.

Studies of world water consumption reveal one key fact. It is human dietary choices more than rate of population growth that determines the intensity of our water consumption. Today, more than 50 percent of the water consumed worldwide, including both water diverted from rivers and water pumped from underground, is used for irrigating animal fodder. It is our incessant demand for grain-fed meat that is destroying our global water resources.

The facts are obvious. It takes exponentially more water to grow the grain needed to feed an animal you intend to slaughter for food than it would take to produce the same amount of vegetable protein and eat it directly. When you add all the waste produced by that largely abused animal that will then foul your existing fresh water resources that you begin understand the size of the problem. At this point the only credible solution appears to be a  global gastronomic shift away from meat-consumption to vegetable protein sources. 

Here are a few horrific statistics that highlight some of the water-related human suffering on this planet and why access to clean water must someday become a global human right.

  • Currently, over 1.2 billion people worldwide are without access to safe drinking water and more than 5 million people die each year from preventable water-related diseases.
  • 12% of the world population lacks clean drinking water, including 319 million Sub-Saharan Africans, 554 million Asians and 50 million Latin Americans.
  • Each day on the planet 4,500 children die due to lack of access to clean water.
  • 40% of the world’s population now faces water scarcity. By 2025 this is likely to increase to 66%, or two thirds of the population. 

The World Water Council is currently organizing the 8th World Water Forum scheduled from the 18th to te 23rd of March in 2018 in Brasilia, Brazil. The goal of the Forum, which will be the world’s largest water-related event, is to achieve greater water security, promote water stewardship, build political commitments and trigger actions on critical water issues globally.


“Into what does the wind resolve itself
when distilled through the pores of the earth?
It resolves itself into water,
from whence all things spring.”
– Paracelsus


Idea of the Commons

The idea of the Commons reflects a time before private ownership became the touchstone of human affairs. As a social doctrine it can be traced Western Europe back to Athenian Democracy where citizens were endowed with both common rights and obligations. The idea was then articulated in Roman law via The Institutes of Justinian where the common inheritances to which all Roman citizens were entitled were described as res communes. Included among these were “those things common to mankind – the air, the running water, the sea, and consequently the shores of the sea.” 

In 1215, the Magna Carta recognized forests and fisheries as res communes, and it is for this reason that, even through the Dark Ages in Europe, the idea of the Commons persisted as those shared lands reserved for all those known collectively as “Commoners”.

Finally, carrying the torch of the Commons kindled into a burning flame by the spirit of the Enlightenment, the authors of the American Constitution brought the idea of the Commons to the New World. They began the Constitution with the clearly expressed desire to “promote the general welfare” and it was in this spirit that “Commonwealths” were established as states, and in towns small and large across early America a central area called “The Commons” was preserved for cultural celebration, arts, and public demonstration.