Contextual Content

Water everywhere but not a drop to drink

Many low lying Pacific islands are in danger of disappearing under water soon.
Bodies of water around the world are turning into refuse sites, or drying up from overuse.

Philippino Vice President Noli De Castro signed a declaration calling for the protection of Manila's three main water bodies, including Manila Bay, which is rapidly turning into a city dump.

Member of Russia’s Green Party, Vladimir Anikiev, warned of a similar fate for Russia's Lake Baikal, which holds one-fifth of the world's fresh water resources. Industrial plant waste, the poaching of Baikal's fish, and chaotic construction are all ruining the lake's ecological composition.

Russia’s Aral Sea, once one of the world’s largest inland seas, is a now a desert – the result of years of diversion of the water to feed a hungry Soviet cotton-farming industry.

In the southern Lebanese city of Saida, a coastal waste dump, made worse by untreated sewage and toxic industrials, festers like a sore. Activists led a peaceful protest to draw attention to the degradation of the coastal area.

Though activists and world leaders gathered to honor World Environment Day, none of the world's leading industrial nations have set concrete environmental goals for the year 2020, a move strongly encouraged by climate scientists.

Environmental Advocate and Filmmaker Afsan Chowdhury explained that the water crisis is a direct result of decades of policies which have sought to control water instead of working with it.

waterpollution

Story Transcript

REKHA VISWANATHAN (VOICEOVER): Water is central to the global environmental crisis. Rising sea levels, polluted water systems, and dried up lakes and rivers are just the tip of the iceberg. Many low-lying Pacific islands are in danger of disappearing underwater soon.

NOTE TONG, PRESIDENT OF KIRIBATI: To plan for the day when you will no longer have a country is indeed painful, but I think we have to do that.

VISWANATHAN: Water crisis of one form or another took center stage at the United Nations World Environment Day Conference in New Zealand on Thursday.

NOLI DE CASTRO, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: The entire world is talking about climate change and global warming. [inaudible] This is what the world is now faced with. The frightening thought of what could happen if the already fragile environment is continuously threatened, abused, and neglect(ed).

VISWANATHAN: The Philippines’ vice president, Noli de Castro, signed a declaration calling for the protection of Manila’s three main water bodies, including Manila Bay, which is rapidly turning into a city dump. Member of Russia’s Green Party Vladimir Anikiev warned of a similar fate for Russia’s Lake Baikal, which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water resources. Industrial plant waste, the poaching of Baikal’s fish, and chaotic construction are all eroding the lake’s ecological composition.

VLADIMIR ANIKIEV, MEMBER OF RUSSIA’S GREEN PARTY (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): According to UN estimations, only 50 percent of the world’s population have access to clean drinking water, and Baikal lake has the largest freshwater reserves. At the same time, the authorities want to develop ore complex deposits right in the watershed area of Baikal.

VISWANATHAN: Russia’s Aral Sea, once one of the world’s largest inland seas, is now a desert—the result of years of diversion of the water to feed a hungry Soviet cotton farming industry. In the southern Lebanese city of Saïda, a coastal waste dump made worse by untreated sewage and toxic industrials festers like a sore. Activists led a peaceful protest to draw attention to the degradation of the coastal area.

YASMIN EL-HELWE, GREENPEACE ACTIVIST: We are here today to highlight the threats of the coastal waste dumps on the Mediterranean Sea and to urge decision-makers to put aside their political conflicts and go for the establishment of marine reserves as the main tool for the protection of our sea from the different threats that is facing it.

VISWANATHAN: Though activists and world leaders gathered to honor World Environment Day, none of the world’s leading industrial nations have set concrete environmental goals for the year 2020, a move strongly encouraged by climate scientists. Environmental advocate and filmmaker Afsan Chowdhury explained that the water crisis is a direct result of decades of policies which have sought to control water instead of working with it.

AFSAN CHOWDHURY, JOURNALIST: Because the policies have not been very much in harmony with nature and people’s life, we have had more crisis around water than ever before. Now, what can governments do to improve the situation as far as water is concerned? They need to look at people’s life, rather than looking at what is an engineering solution to water. So flooding has been intervened by barrages and dams instead of looking at where the less invasive policies could be made. We do not have a relationship with water, which is historical; we have a relationship with water which is invasive, which is confrontational.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.