In the last post of this series on Laudato Si, we looked at the Pope’s introduction to “Climate as a Common Good.” This week, we will continue in Chapter 1 to try to better understand Pope Francis’ thoughts on the very important resource of water.
Understanding Pope Francis on “The Issue of Water”
Starting in paragraph 27 of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis again admonishes us on our consumption habits. He goes as far as to say, “The exploitation of the planet has already exceeded acceptable limits and we still have not solved the problem of poverty.” He blames this exploitation on unsustainable levels of consumption by developed countries and the “wealthier sectors of society.”
Then, continuing in the next paragraph (28), the Pope explains more about why water is an important issue for all living things, since it is “indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.” After making the point of water’s incredible importance, he talks about our over-consumption of it and how it is leading to shortages in large cities and “drastic scarcity” and “water poverty” in places like Africa where drought leaves the people without drinking water or proper agriculture.
In addition to the lack of water, he shares his great concern over the quality of water remaining and available to the poor (paragraph 29). Much of the water in these places (like Africa) is unsafe for drinking, full of diseases like dysentery, cholera, and other chemical substances which lead to suffering and death in children. He believes that the polluted water is a result of underground water supply contamination by industry, mining and farming where countries need better controls and regulation. He also points the finger at everyday detergents and other chemical products that “continue to pour (toxins) into our rivers, lakes, and seas.”
Then, Pope Francis gets very serious in paragraph 30, where you can almost hear his anger through the pages where he shows his frustration over attempts to privatize water and leave it to be capitalized by the market. He then, with great emphasis tells us without a doubt, that “safe drinkable water is a basic and human right, since it is essential to human survival…” His frustration continues as he tells us that we, as a world, are not giving proper care to the poor by denying them a “right to a life consistent with the inalienable dignity.” As a way of correcting this problem, he tells us, that we need to “increase funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor.”
As the section concludes with paragraph 30-31, our Pope expresses that because of the great inequality between those who pollute/waste water and those who are deprived of safe water, the world needs better education about the affects of our over-consumption and seriousness of the issue for the poor. He is concerned that without significant changes in the way we consume, pollute and control water, we could be facing not only a serious water shortage and environmental disaster, but a “major source of conflict in this century” by those seeking control of this vital resource.
What Does It Mean for You and Me?
When we consider the issue of water, the Pope makes it very clear that those who have an abundance of water need to conserve, those who can afford to help others by funding and providing clean water to the poor MUST, and all who use water need to do it sustainably and with concern for keeping it safe.
How Can We Make a Difference?
When it comes to the issue of water, we all need to better educate ourselves and others on the importance of clean water and water conservation. Then, we need to work together to make the overall small changes to our lifestyle that make a huge impact on those in need. Here is a list of suggestions and resources to help get us started with water conservation.
10 Ways to Start Conserving & Protecting Water Today…
- Buy water saving shower heads and take shorter showers of around 5 minutes.
- Don’t water your lawn unless absolutely necessary.
- Use “leftover” water from half-finished water drinks or melted ice from an ice bucket to water inside and outside plants/flowers.
- Turn the water off while brushing your teeth and only use what you really need to rinse.
- Don’t flush every time you use the restroom, unless necessary.
- When hand-washing dishes, fill the sink half way with soapy water while washing. Rinse using the sprayer.
- Hand-water your vegetable garden every other day or less often if it rains.
- Don’t run the water to temperature before starting a bath. Instead adjust the temp as the tub fills.
- Make or purchase toxin-free, eco-friendly detergents, soaps, and bath/body products. (Check out my green product reviews or learn more about 100% toxin-free home, bath and body products hand-made in the USA by Poofy Organics.)
- Be conscious about disposal of medications, toxins and chemicals. If they are not eco-friendly, do not dump them or rinse them in the sink. Read the product label for proper disposal and/or clean-up methods.
Links to Resources with More Water Conservation Suggestions & Water Pollution Education
- “100+ Ways to Conserve Water” from WaterUseItWisely.com
They deliver almost 200 ways to conserve water and a lot of other great information too.
- The Water Project
This New Hampshire based charity is bringing safe drinking water to the people of Africa to help solve water poverty. Visit their site for statistics, education, and resources.
- Articles on Water Pollution from Household, Yard and Cosmetic Products
– “Down the Drain” from EWG.org
– “Story of Cosmetics” from the Story of Stuff Project
– “How Fertilizers Harm the Earth More Than Help Your Lawn” from Scientific American Magazine
- Additional DarleneGoesGreen Articles on water conservation, safe and clean water
– Green Laundry Detergent Product Review
– Green Dish Soap Product Review
These are just a few lifestyle changes we can make today to impact the issue of water. There are tons of great resources out there and incredible charities for us to help with our contributions. If you have a other helpful resources to share, please post it below.