Sunday, March 29, 2009

FLOW- a Film about Water.

(Image Courtesy of Flow)
We're in a drought and to many of us, that reality is hard to grasp. Ever since we were kids, we have thought that water is free and infinite. We used and abused it and most importantly, never thought twice. "Flow" tells us that everything we thought as children concerning the flow of water has been a lie. It uses scientists to provide evidence and then shows us the reality...the humanity of water. It shows the corrupt water industry, the thirst-stricken children of developing countries and the nasty toxins that are infiltrating our pipelines. And with all this learning, it still manages to be utterly captivating. Clink on the link to learn more about Flow. Click on "Read More" if you want to read some of the facts (list form) that I found astonishing.

*More than two million people die per year due to water borne diseases. The majority are children under the age of 5.

Pesticides and Other Toxins in Our Water
* Increased Birth defects in agriculture-rich areas (pesticides from agro seep into ground water)
* A Decline in fertility in European areas where pesticides are in heavy use.
* In Tasmania, cancer rates have shot up 200% after it increased its pesticide use.
* In Texas, toxicologists found high levels of Prozac in tissues of every fish they sampled (urban runoff- our polluted water and soil travel and pollute the oceans)
* The Arctic: Industrial toxins travel in water and have been found in seals, whales, polar bears, fish and in the breast milk of Inuit mothers.
* Creation of dams on a river= Rapid change in ecosystem. A river has organic materials that feed the living creatures that reside in and along the river; it also feeds the oceans. When a dam is created-->  organic matter gets captured behind the dam--> it rots--> creates methane gas, a green house gas.
-- In the 20th century, 10s of millions of people have been displaced by dams.
* Research shows the effects of atrazine, a pesticide made by a Swiss company: atrazine "chemically castrated" frogs. This means that male frogs would become more female- develop ovaries and decrease sperm count- after exposure to the pesticide.

The Anatomy of a Demasculinzed Frog
(Picture Courtesy of Berkeley)
--> Atrazine is the most used pesticide in the U.S. and it's the #1 found contaminant in our drinking, ground, and surface water.
--> It has been linked with prostate cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
--> All of the European Union has banned atrazine, including Switzerland, where the pesticide is made.

Privatization of Water
* Europe is beginning to privatize water. 3 of the largest water companies (all fortune 500 and started by bankers) are Thames Ater, Vivendi and Suez. All 3 are forcing developing countries to give them their water supplies and then charging the citizens of those countries to pay for their own water.
* 1999 Cochabamba, Bolivia: Government privatized water, which led to a water war. 2 years earlier, The World Bank gave Cochabamba and El Alto, Bolivia an ultimatum- if they don't privatize water, the World Bank would cut off their water development loans. However, 10 years after this threat, Bolivia returned water back to its people.
* Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa: Invensys Metering System. Each person pays for a card and (s)he uses this card to get water. However, this is a poor region, so most people can't pay for water--> they go to the river (unsanitary; waterborne diseases)--> people get sick--> poor health care system--> death rises.
* New Delhi, India: Suez is blocking much of the flow of the Ganges river- more then 600 billion liters- and will sell that water back to Indians at 10xs the price they're paying now.
* Michigan, U.S.: Nestle has over 70 brands of bottled water and it is using Michigan's water resources- 450 gallons/min- and not paying a cent for what it consumes. Its profits are upwards of $1.8 million/ day. Nestle has gotten over $10 million in tax abatements over the span of 10 years.
* U.S.: Less than one person in the FDA is regulating the water industry. Bottled industry is severely less regulated than tap water.
--> National Resources Defense Council tested over 100 brands of bottled water in the U.S. Outcome: Bottled water is not better, safer or purer than tap water. 1/3 of these brands had toxins like arsenic, organic harmful chemicals and other harmful bacteria invisibly poisoning the water. Some of the bottled water companies with pictures of mountains came from city tap, while others with glaciers on them came from ground water in Florida.
--> In 2007, 16 million gallons of oil were used to make water bottles.
--> U.N. estimated that it will cost an additional $30 billion/year to provide safe, clean drinking water to the entire planet. Last year alone the U.S. spent 3xs that on bottled water.

A Sea of Bottled Water
(Image Provided by
*Ashok Gadgil, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found that ultra violet rays kill pathogens in water, and with this information he developed clean affordable water.
-->Bomminampadu, India: UV ray Water Purification Center. The price at which local people buy the water pays the wages of the locals who run the center = self-sustaining. The price for 10 gallons of safe drinking water per day everyday for a year= $2 U.S. (affordable!) 300,000 people benefit from this technology right now.
* Rainwater Harvesting: catches rainfall on rooftops and a pipe guides it to a storage unit that stores the water, so that when there are dry periods water can be consumed- Super effective.
*Playpumps: there's a circular device that kids ride on and it uses their kinetic force to pump water. 900 playpumps bring 2,250,000 people water in Africa.

Playpumps Providing Smiles and Water
(Picture thanks to

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