Only an hour or two after posting my recent item on World Water Day, I arrived home to find an aptly timed National Geographic in the mail, a special issue with the cover hed "Water: Our Thirsty World." It's a powerful reminder of how a print publication can take on a meaty issue and give it the royal treatment. (Not that NatGeo doesn't also have some great stuff on the website to accompany the package.)
I haven't finished wading through the whole NatGeo edition, but thought I ought to call this to Dateline Earth readers' attention while the magazine's still available on the newstand. I'm sorry, but for me, the print NG is still a joy, and this issue helps show why.
Of course there are jaw-droppingly gorgeous photos. The stories include these worthwhile pieces:
+ Women in Third World countries are saddled with spending big chunks of their days fetching water. It sounds ridiculous, but I've been wondering about this since, on my trip to Africa, I saw numerous women and girls out in the middle of nowhere carrying big water containers. This piece by Tina Rosenberg, from east central Africa, has this sell: "If the millions of woman who haul water long distances had a faucet by their door, whole societies could be transformed."
+ Brook Larmer's look at the melting glaciers of the Himalaya. Yeah, clearly the IPCC jumped the gun saying they'd all be gone by 2035 (a typo, by one version that says a meltoff is likely by 2350; a skeptics' version claims the learned scientists were hornswoggled by wild-eyed environmentalists). But right now, in 2010, it's clear what the trends are, and Larmer succeeds in communicating the grievious consequences ahead. (Update 9:14 p.m.: I should have said he also shows how those Himalayan glaciers already are fading fast.)
+ A pretty fair piece on the California situation by Joel K. Bourne, Jr. I've read a lot of CA water stories, including portions of Marc Reisner's classic Cadillac Desert, but rarely found a grabber of a sentence like Bourne's lede:
"On a blistering day in the megalopolis that is southern California, Shivaji Deshmukh of the Orange County Water District offers me a cup of cool, clear water that just yesterday was swirling around an Anaheim toilet bowl."
+ Don Belt's look at the Jordan River. Could it be that this abused water body could forge peace in the Middle East instead of the war that's been predicted over water there?
This whole NatGeo issue is available online for free. But me, I'm glad I have the print version.
— Robert McClure
A local group called Womens Enterprises has a very interesting bootstrap approach to helping groups of women get water storage equipment so they don’t have to make such long treks.