While it’s referred to as the “summer” of 2007 on the Change.org website, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that they’re referring in the Northern Hemispherian, which would have made it the winter where it was founded, here in Melbourne, Australia.
A Brief History of Blog Action Day
Collis & Cyan Ta’eed, co-founders of the Envato Network (the Tuts+ Education Network, the marketplaces that include ThemeForest, GraphicRiver and AudioJungle, and stand alone blogs like The Netsetter and WorkAwesome, etc.), started the Blog Action Day as a way to get the bloggers of the world united for a day to help raise awareness about various worthy topics / causes.
The first Blog Action Day focused on the issue of Environment and was a runaway success, with thousands of bloggers getting involved. In just three short years following, it has grown to be a major event that thousands of bloggers participate in each year, including many corporate bloggers / sponsors.
You can read more about the whole Blog Action Day event, its history and other activities surrounding it, here.
Each Year Has A Theme
So, the following year, Collis and the Envato team again arranged the Blog Action Day and by now the world was waiting in anticipation. The theme for 2008 was ‘Poverty’.
You can read a little about the 2008 BAD (Blog Action Day) here, on ProBlogger. (I have to say the comments are worth reading on the article, too!)
2009 saw the Envato team hand over the reigns of BAD to Change.org, “the world’s leading blog network for social issues”. This was a brilliant move as it gave a great opportunity into the hands of people who had more time and resources to grow the cause into something much bigger, reaching much further than it had the previous two years.
The 2009 theme was something that was on everyone’s minds and lips, and blogs it seems: Climate Change. It was one of the most talked about topics in society (at least in Australia) in 2009, so it made perfect sense to use this as the theme to get bloggers raising awareness about the issue online.
This Year’s Theme Is…
Water. Our most precious resource. It is something that so many people in “developed” countries take for granted every single day and in more ways that we could possibly imagine.
There’s so much that can be said about water: How we need to preserve and protect our catchments, keep it clean and available for everyone, but I’m going to write about Water from an Austrlian’s perspective and as someone who’s lived in both rural and urban Australia.
But Before I Get Started…
I’d like to quickly talk about Bottled Water.
I understand that in many parts of the world there is not a lot of choice when it comes to drinkable water—some water sources are infested with parasites, some are filled with waste (natural or otherwise) and some are simply abused by townsfolk or corporations—but there is still a choice when it comes to buying bottled water.
Sure, bottled water is a quick, convenient way to keep water with you at all times, but there are other options out there that save you both money and help you help the environment at the same time, like buying a filtration system for your household taps and filling a reusable drink bottle or something similar.
It should not be too far outside many households’ budgets to be able to buy even the most simple of water filtration systems that can be fitted into or replace one’s regular tap or faucets.
But when you look over these infographics (one and two) on bottled water and take the time to read The Story of Bottled Water (by Becky Striepe on the Eat Drink Better blog) and an article on Change.org’s own Environment blog – Annie Leonard Tackles Our Bottled Water Addiction (by Tara Lohan), you’ll see just how awful bottle water is – for us and for the environment especially.
I know that we all need clean water, but there simply must be a better way than buying it in individual bottles whenever we “feel thirsty”.
Water Is A FINITE Resource
Despite how it may seem, there is only so much water available in the world at any one time. Yes evaporation, rain and weather and other systems are always in motion that help to replenish water sources, but there is a problem that threatens that cycle’s efficiency and could throw the balance of renewal out permanently.
That threat is humanity. While it’s not necessarily about the exact same issue, I think that Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) from The Matrix sums it up pretty well:
Humanity has grown in population at such incredible rates that, in the last two-to-three hundred years we have begun to see changes in the natural order of things in the world. The way we overpopulate the areas that we inhabit, we have been the cause of mass extinctions of entire ecosystems. We’ve displaced one nation in favour of another, leaving the remaining population destitute and prone to outbreaks of poverty, famine and disease, not to mention countries whose population have been in a perpetual state of famine and poverty merely because of their massive numbers and their government’s inability to help (or lack of empathy for their own people).
We plumb the depths of the mountains and river beds to draw on natural springs that issue forth clear and highly drinkable waters at the expense of local wildlife.
Our desire, and indeed our greed for more—water, land, whatever—has driven our society to commit unspeakable and potentially irreversible acts of reckless damage upon our planet and our co-inhabitants, human and animal alike.
Our Consumer Society Is A Flawed System
It can definitely be said that the whole of the world’s nations do not fall under the “consumer society” label, but as time quickly flies by many countries are racing along the path to join the likes of the United States, Australia and some European countries in being some of the worst offenders in using more natural resources each year than the world can sustain / regenerate.
The World Wildlife Fund has released their “2010 Living Planet Report” (25MB PDF) and the current data that they’ve gathered is that we’re using 50% more natural resources than the earth can sustain.
If you enjoy visuals, here’s a huge infographic entitled: Footprint Vs. Biodiversity (also from the page above)
If you ask me, that’s just absolute bullshit.
To think that we’ve reached a point where we’re using half-again more natural resources than the world can sustain is just mind boggling.
At the dawn of the 20th Century, as the world was powering through the Industrial Revolution and things like electricity, larger and more powerful machinery, automobiles and planes came along which only served to assist our population’s growth.
The past 100 years has seen incredible breakthroughs in medicine and science, raising the general population’s average life expectancy by anything up to thirty years (depending upon where you live).
One could sit back and marvel at the ingenuity and incredible power of mankind, but I’ll always be one of those people that can only really see the path of destruction and death left in our wake.
The Annual Consumption Of Bottled Water Sucks!
Looking at Infographic Number One from earlier, one of the first things I noticed is that Americans consume 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water every year and that it costs somewhere up to 10,000 times more than what they’d pay if they simply drank the water out of their taps!
This, to me, is absolutely terrible.
Though I wish I had more up-to-date figures, according to an EPA Victoria article, some 550 million litres of bottled water (145,294,629 US gallons ) was consumed between 2004-5 – this has been a growing concern for a good number of years.
The US drank 47 times more bottled water than us, however their population is only 14 times greater than ours. My maths isn’t great so if someone could help me that’d be great, but “per capita” it almost sounds like Australia might be close to having drunk more water as a nation than the US did?
Anyway, that’s not important and I’ve been distracted by the figures too long now.
The Worst Part Is Water Is Not Readily Available To Everyone Anymore…
Dubbed “water conflict”, it’s not an old concept for man to fight over water resources and “ownership” or “usage” rights. In fact, there’s several potential water wars that are on the verge of breaking out this very year. It seems almost comical to think that someone as simple as water could cause an actual war, but that’s just the thinking of a guy who has spent most of his life without the threat of losing his access to water from any means.
Except one: Drought.
When The Water Packs Its Bags And Leaves…
There’s no doubt that drought strikes every community hard. Some places (states, even whole countries) have been locked in drought for over a decade and some parts of Australia are a perfect example of this.
Here in Melbourne, we’ve been under “water restrictions” for years now. Personally, I can’t even remember when they came in, it’s been that long. The country areas, especially in farming country has been hit the hardest with many farmers (crop and livestock) losing their produce, their land and homes and some even losing their lives through suicide because they simply lacked water.
The Victorian Government started a campaign called Target 155 which aimed to get the citywide water usage down to 155 litres per person, per day. According to their website at the time of writing, we used 152 litres per person last week which was up from the week before (coming into Spring, the weather is warming so water is naturally going to be used more).
The Farmers of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have been hit hardest (to my knowledge) over the better part of the last fifteen-to-twenty years by various drought-inducing weather patterns (El Niño and La Niña).
You can read more about Australia’s droughts, with more recent information at the end of the page, here.
So What Can Be Done About It?
Well, I talked a lot about the bottled water issue and also a bit about droughts. While linked through the fact that they’re both issues about water, we should realise that they are indeed separate and take separate action for both.
Stop Buying Bottled Water And Get Yourself A Filter OR Drink From The Tap!
I’m part of Gen-Y, the oh-so precious generation of kids who have been coddled and protected by a society that has become increasingly paranoid and overprotective in the wake of being super-connected (read: internets).
What does this have to do with anything? Well, I remember having a conversation with some Baby Boomers and a couple of Gen-Xs that involved them saying that Gen-Ys were always getting sick and whatnot because we never “drank from the hose” or “played in the mud” like they did as kids because it’s “just not done / safe anymore to do that”.
Granted, I was born in 1983 and that puts me at the older end of the Ys, but still I felt a little insulted. I drank from the hose and waded in a river collecting what I thought were tadpoles and fell out of trees and got cuts. I died from salmonella poisoning when I was four and I got Scarlet Fever when I was twenty.
Anyway, I digress. I’ve drunk out of the tap / faucet my entire life and no matter where I’ve lived be it city or country have I turned my nose up at the water and opted for bottled water.
Despite all of that I’ve still got all my original teeth with no fillings and I was given a pretty-much perfect bill of health at the last check-up with my doctor. (Couple of minor things, but that’s not related to this.)
Sure, I’ve bought my fair-share of bottled water over the years but only in situations where I felt it was necessary or couldn’t fill my own glass (ie: middle of the city).
So think about it at least – when you’re at work, couldn’t you reuse that plastic water bottle you’re about to throw out tomorrow? How about the next day? When you think that 65% of plastic water bottles end up in landfill, surely you could do your bit to help the environment just a little?
Spare A Thought For The Farmers, The Animals, Yourself And Especially Your Children…
Please take a moment to watch the above video – it is all about the loss of water and what it will do to the world (written from the perspective of someone living that future.)
The Target 155 campaign to help get our Melbourne “water catchments” up is something that I think should be implemented all over the globe. Seriously – if you make some really simple adjustments to your daily life, you’ll be able to save so much water and end up making a real difference.
And it’s not one of those times you can say, “But I’m just one person, what does it matter!?” Every. Single. Person is accountable for our water in the world; how we each use it and teach our children to use it will determine our fate and the fate of all life on earth.
Tips for saving water to help save ourselves, our farmers, our kids:
There is much more that you can do to save water and much of it is common sense.
If you’re unsure however, the best place to start is Google. Try searching for some tips on how to save water in your home and your work.
It would also be great if you could share this post and all the resources listed herein with your friends and colleagues to help raise awareness and promote saving on their part.
Also, please make sure you visit the official Blog Action Day 2010 website for more information as well as many more blogs that are taking part of this awareness campaign!
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Excellent piece Laneth, heart break breaking and thought provoking, great work.
Laneth Sffarlenn replied:
Thanks Jan :)
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