WATER

MULTIPLE REFLECTIONS ON WATER: (LIFE-SOURCE)-(RESOURCE)-(COMMODITY).

this environmental project is a combination of academic research, photojournalism and creative writing. the text of the paper written for this project sits above each of the images. the footnotes lie below.

WATER AS A SOURCE: THE VEINS OF THE EARTH. “SOURCE: n. 1. Place from which a river or stream issues. 2. place of origination. 3. Person or document etc. providing information.”2 “A natural landscape, especially one containing wetlands and extensive woodland, acts like a sponge. Heavy rainfall is absorbed, avoiding floods and is then released slowly over a relatively long time, avoiding severe fluxuations in the level of lakes and rivers. The soil rarely suffers from draught and the water that flows in streams is crystal clear (Whitefield: 2004: 92).” “Conceived in the cool dark cradle of the virgin forest, water ripens and matures as it slowly mounts from the depths. On its upward way it gathers to itself trace elements and minerals. Only when it is ripe, and not before, will it emerge from the bowels of the earth as a spring…Here in the cool diffused light of the forest it begins its long, life-giving cycle as a sparkling, lively, translucent stream, bubbling, gurgling, whirling and gyrating as it wends its way valleywards. In its natural, self-cooling, spiralling, convoluting motion, water is able to maintain its vital inner energies, health and purity. In this way it acts as the conveyor of all the necessary minerals, trace elements and other subtle energies to the surrounding environment.”3 I change from liquid to gas, or vapour, and in the process purify myself. we slowly filter through layer after layer of earth, soil and rock. we am held on top of bands of clay, creating rivers. we turn in a vortex, a helix as we travel up a tree, being drawn from the ground to evaporate in the leaves, twisting the tree into the most efficient form to transport myself.
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1 “But what is the marvellous, colourless, tasteless and odourless substance, which quenches our thirst like no other fluid? Did we but truly understand the essential nature of water-a living liquid-we would not treat it so churlishly, but would care for it as if our lives depended on it, which undoubtedly they do (Coats 1996: 114).” 2 See: Thompson 1996: 872.3 See: Coats 1996: 115.4 “Water, no less than the more general notions of ‘landscape’ and ‘nature’, is a social construction. Over time, society, and importantly, different subgroups of society, (and for our purposes let us stay with scientists and poets) have invested particular meanings in ‘water’. For the ecologist, water might seem predominantly as a resource for plants and animals. The focus of the plant scientist would be even more specific, namely, a raw material for photosynthesis. The poet, on the other hand, finds that water is a source of dreams and reveries…. What all this means is that we all have an investment, a stake, in how water is understood, how it is used, and how it is abused (Russell in Honari (ED.) 1999: 251).”5 “We cannot think about the quantity of water that circulates the earth without thinking about environmental problems. To solve environmental problems we need the prevention of water contamination…Water circulates in this world limitlessly and absorbs and dissolves all contaminants. Water is the source of life. If water is contaminated, all creatures would be denied of their existence (Emoto 2002: 11).”6 See: Thompson 1996: 773.7 See: Illich 1986:45.8 See: Russell in Honari ED. 1999: 251.9 “Water flows through our lives every day. But as long as our showers run and our toilets flush, we don't ask too many questions. Water becomes invisible, whether it's the expensive stuff in our bottles, or the polluted stuff under our bridges (Warner, 2002).”10 See: Thompson 1996: 166.11 http://www.breconwater.co.uk/content/public/source/water%5Fcycle/12 Brecon Carreg. 13http://www.breconwater.co.uk 14 http://www.breconwater.co.uk /content/public/source/.15 http://www.highlandspring.com/products.asp16 http://www.evian.com/ca/indexStaging.php17 http://www.classic-mineral-water.com/source.php18 “You pass, on the average, a quart of urine per day. The dry solids in urine-everything left when all the water is removed-weigh about the same as the solids in shit. Urine is rich in nitrogen (15-10%) which means that you piss away 10 pounds of pure nitrogen each year. “Man must do something with his wastes and the ocean is the logical place for them,” was the subheading of an article “The Disposal of Wastes in the Ocean,” by William Bascom, that appeared in the august 1974 issue of Scientific American. A photo of the huge Hyperion Plant appeared with the following caption: “Sewage treatment plant serves the city of Los Angeles, discharging into the Pacific Ocean about 235 million gallons per day of primary treated effluent and 100 million gallons per day of secondary effluent. The discharge pipe is 12 feet in diameter and nearly five miles long. At the discharge end it is in 197 feet of water. The plant separately discharges sludge, consisting of about 1% solids, through a seven mile pipe to a depth of more than 300 feet. The sludge is discharged at the brink of a marine canyon.” That got me to thinking. The nutrients in all that effluent, much of it from flush toilets, if converted to fertilizer would be the equivalent of 200 tons of 7-14-12 fertilizer (7%nitrogen, 14% phosphorus, 12 % potassium). Each ton of fertilizer, when applied to the soil, would provide the nutrient to grow 25 tons of vegetables. Thus, each day, L.A.’s water provides the nutrients to grow 5,000 tons of vegetables, enough to provide everyone in Los Angeles with a pound or two of fresh produce daily (Van der Ryn 1995:33-35).” 19 “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”- Mark Twain (Warner, 2002).20 “A human being appears on this earth for the first time when the ovum of the mother and the sperm of the father meet each other and become a fertilized egg. At this time water accounts for about 95% of the fertilized egg. In other words, it’s almost all water (Emoto 2002: 8).”
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