Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts on Water

Hello from the nasty little low that could!  47 knots of wind and big ole waves but LP and I are steadily making progress to fair winds and warm croissants!

Well, after sending in my latest video, which was when I really began to think about our sustainability message of the leg, I began doing some thinking about how the offshore racing environment applies to the topic of water in a real way.  My life on the oceans of the world in my own little universe of my boat applies in two ways that I can see are real and that can act as a voice for the plight of our world and its population.  

First of all, 70% of the planet Earth is covered in water as is a commonly known fact, but what is not widely enough recognized or acknowledged by those of us creatures that live on land is how bad the quality of the water that makes up those oceans is and how fast it is changing.  Among the scientific community that focuses on the marine environment it is largely agreed that the quality of water in the oceans and in particular its acidification has started to seriously affect the sustainability of the sea life and growth in the oceans.  I can't begin to hypothesize on how fast the change will continue or how it can be reversed but it is a topic the needs addressing before the oceans and the life in them becomes the first item to trigger a serious collapse of the way the oceans are used as an important contributor to the sustainability of life on shore as well as at sea.

Below is an article that is relevant in a couple of ways.  Firstly, it speaks to exactly of what I speak but, it is also contributed by the crew of friends aboard Ocean Watch which undertook an around the America's trip to highlight the changes in our oceans from a scientific point of view.  Mark Schrader, the captain of the Ocean Watch is a dear friend as well as a previous competitor in this race as well as being the race director of this event when I first did it in 1998.  The journalist and writer during the voyage was another great friend Herb McCormick who has a way with words that can function as a voice for the Oceans of the world in a way I can only dream of.

Essay #1 (thanks to Sailors for the Sea who host to the Ocean Watch Essays):
Perhaps our planet should have been named "Ocean" rather than "Earth" given that the majority of Earth is comprised of water not land: seventy-one percent to be precise. Humans are also comprised mostly of water, a strikingly analogous seventy percent. In both cases, a proper pH is required not only for vibrant health, but for long-term survival. However, recently the pH of our oceans has been changing, becoming more acidic. Seawater is naturally alkaline, with a healthy pH ranging from 7.8 to 8.5 (7 is neutral). Since the industrial revolution, and the accompanying atmospheric pollution, the pH has dropped nearly thirty percent, the largest change in our water's pH in the past two billion years.  CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE

Secondly, I think that my little offshore universe can contribute to the discussion of water in the sustainable sense in that the clean and potable water that is needed to sustain human life is a very precious commodity out here in the big wet desert that is a salt water ocean. Without being able to carry, or generate through seawater filtration, enough water to drink, one's life on the ocean becomes compromised very quickly.  Well, this applies to the world at large in a very real way.  The growing population of the world and the need to sustain it with food and agriculture fed by water and the hygienic and drinking needs of those millions of people is going to be a bigger demand than the supply that exists.  Many people say the next world war could be triggered by water rights.  Go figure?  In many parts of the world the lack of fresh water is already a very serious issue (just like aboard the LP's of the world) and the need to come up with cost effective and sustainable ways to purify water will become a mandatory need for the global population.  Below is another article that addresses this issue with the raw reality of facts.

 Some amazing stats from the World Water Council:
1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water 
2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation (2002, UNICEF/WHO JMP 2004)  
1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases. 
3 900 children die every day from water borne diseases (WHO 2004) 
Daily per capita use of water in residential areas: 
- 350 litres in North America and Japan 
- 200 litres in Europe
 - 10-20 litres in sub-Saharan Africa 

Over 260 river basins are shared by two or more countries mostly without adequate legal or institutional arrangements. CLICK HERE TO READ FULLARTICLE

I am sure, because we are smart creatures with a real desire to continue to exist we will address these needs. I just hope we are smart enough to address them before the way of life the Earth has provided for centuries can be preserved, and that the history books of the future praise our ingenuity in dealing with our water issues rather than simply showing us a bunch of pictures of sea life that no longer exist and a lifestyle when water could be considered a simple to find commodity.

All the best from the last hammering LP and I should be getting on our epic trip around the big blue marble,