Thursday, 22 August 2019

Do You Really Understand How the Five Essential Facts about Water are Ethical?

Do You Really Understand How Five Essential Facts about Water are Ethical?

Water, water, everywhere, 
And all the boards did shrink; 
Water, water, everywhere, 
Nor any drop to drink.” ― 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner  

Water is everywhere…in the seas and oceans, groundwater or aquifers, polar ice caps,  lakes and streams, atmospheric moisture, locked within the bodies of living things. It is a transparent, tasteless and odorless chemical substance without which Life on the earth would not be possible and, therefore, must be protected with ethical responsibility by every person.

The more we can learn about water, the more precious and inviolable it becomes. Here are some interesting facts, some which you may commonly know and some which may open a greater awareness of water’s importance as they did for me.

Fact 1 - CYCLE: Water moves around the earth in a water cycle with 5 parts: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration and surface run-off.  Water helps to regulate the earth's temperature.

In a 100-year period, a water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about 2 weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere. Groundwater can take a human lifetime just to travel a mile.

The overall amount of water on our planet has recycled to remain the same for two billion years. There is the same amount of water on earth as there was when the earth was formed. The water that comes from your faucet could well contain molecules that dinosaurs drank.

Fact 2 - QUANTITY:  Earth is largely water at 75% with 25% for land mass. Apparently 97% of the total amount of water on earth is found in oceans, 2% of which is frozen. It doesn't take much salt to make water "salty." If one-thousandth (or more) of the weight of water is from salt, then the water is "saline."  Saline water can be desalinated for use as drinking water by going through a process to remove the salt from the water.

Of all the water on earth, only 2.5% is fresh water. Less than 1% of the water supply on earth can be used as drinking water to be used by a huge population all over the world dependent for their survival.

Fact 3 - FORMULA:  Water is the only substance that is found naturally on Earth in three forms: liquid, gas, or solid depending on how far apart the molecules are…densest in ice, farthest apart in gas. Water freezes at zero degrees Celsius and vaporizes at a hundred degrees Celsius.

The water molecule consists of three air atoms, 2 Hydrogen atoms and an Oxygen atom that are bond together due to electrical charges. Weight of a water molecule depends on the number of molecules present; one molecule is 18 grams. A liter of water weighs about 2 pounds (1.01 kilograms).

Fact 4 - HUMANITY:  Clean pure water is essential to humans. Approximately 66% of the human body consists of water including all organs as they perform their physical functions.  The total amount of water in the body of an average adult is 37 liters. Human brains are 75% water.  Human bones are 25% water.  Human blood is 83% water.

A person must consume 2 liters (8 glasses) of water daily to live healthily. You can live about a month without food, but only about a week without water. If a human does not absorb enough water, dehydration is the result. Humans can drink an average of 75,000 liters of water throughout their   lifetime.

Humans use about 190 liters or 50 gallons of water every day.  An automatic dishwasher uses 9 to 12 gallons of water. A small drip from a faucet can waste as much as 75 liters of water a day. 

Two thirds of the water used in a home is used in the bathroom. To flush a toilet we use 2 to 7 gallons of water. A five-minute shower takes about 25 to 50 gallons of water. Brushing your teeth can use 2 gallons of water unless you fill a glass to rinse your teeth instead of running the tap.

You should never drink water straight from a lake or river, as it can cause serious health damage if it is contaminated by bacteria and other micro-organisms. In most cities and towns, drinking water from the tap is treated so that people don't get sick with diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites found naturally in the water.

Bottled water can be up to 1000 times more expensive than tap water and it may not be as safe. Besides, there is the unsustainable problem of thrashing the plastic bottle and polluting without biodegrading. 

Unfortunately, more than 2 billion people on earth do not have a safe supply of water. Today, at least 400 million people live in regions with severe water shortages.  Most of the world's people must walk at least 3 hours to fetch water. Each day almost 10,000 children under the age of 5 in Third World countries die as a result of illnesses contracted by use of impure water.

Fact 5 - POLLUTION:  Because water molecules have both polar and adhesive properties, they are attracted to other molecules as a simple access to water pollution. Water quality is affected because humans dispose of their waste in water and because industrial uses add all kinds of substances and contaminants that are not naturally present. There are at least 70,000 water pollutants with more than 500 new chemicals are developed each year. For example, 1 gallon of gasoline can contaminate approximately 750,000 gallons of water.

Public water supplies must consistently supply water to cities requiring over a hundred different standards for drinking water quality including lead free pipes as a minimum standard to start with.

Oceans and coastal areas are especially impacted because of more concentrations of pollutants from normal water sheds and run-offs.

How about this interesting fact?  A chicken is 75% water and takes 120 gallons of water to produce one egg.
What about this fact:  It takes 1,850 gallons of water to refine one barrel of crude oil. Any kind of industrial use also hugely impacts our supply of fresh water.

So next time you feel a raindrop on your nose, or take a swallow of cool clean water, pay attention to the myriad of links to this most precious life-sustaining commodity resource we have. In fact, a few lifestyle changes can help to preserve your own personal use of water: such as, keep taps from over rinsing, use water efficient appliances, wash with phosphate free detergents and clean with nontoxic biodegradable household products.

Take time to watch water trickle through your fingers. This is where life comes from. It seems without form but can split the hardest rocks over time and reshape the geology, habitats and communities with floods and droughts.  No one living plant or creature can live without it. Strange to think that human beings are frail and small in comparison but are largely in the control of the taps and its utilization. 

Yes, the more we know, the more we need to manage water from a sense of accommodating to its cycles and truths rather than controlling its powers for selfish agendas. Yes, we are totally, deeply dependent on the bounty of this natural cycle and each one of us has the responsibility to respect and protect our planetary shared precious water.

PS: It gives me great pride to be the author of a special e-book called The Incredible Journey of a Water Sprite with Roots on his mission to discover Cyclical Truths  

Imagine for a moment that there is a character who personifies this most valuable, but limited resource, known as pure, fresh water. He is unique because he is also part plant with retractable roots and cellular chloroplasts with which to make his own food from the sun's energy.  This gives him a unique perspective on the symbiotic interdependence among plants, animals and even micro-organisms at the four important levels of healthy ecosystems.

Read more about the introduction  how and why this story was written 

Read more about the Most Common Questions about the Incredible Journey of The Water Sprite with Plant Roots and a Table of Contents

Excerpt: My thoughts wander about the kind of ecology that humankinds believe in, as I have witnessed. Do they get it that natural life begins with DNA in a nucleus, one celled animals and plants, then species and then an ecosystem? Do they know that every small ecosystem is part of the total large biosphere on Earth that connects them all; water, air, food, resources, and shelter? Do they realize that perpetual growth, industry or destruction of any habitat is not sustainable on a limited planet?

Download here: 50% of profits is shared with water conservation agencies and more.

How Climate Change Disrupts the Water Cycle via the Hydro-logical System Express Cause and Effect

How Climate Change Disrupts the Water Cycle via the Hydro-logical System Express Cause and Effect

  “It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living….You realize you are not immortal; you are not a god; you are part of the natural world and you come to accept that.”
  Sir David Attenborough

As the huge cumulonimbus clouds rise along the horizon, there is also rising concern about rising climate temperatures, but have you thought that the primary disruption is happening with the water cycle? This complex integrated system has many parts and functions linked interdependently;  if one part is un-linked, then all the other parts can be derailed.

Therefore, let’s use a concrete metaphor to show the cause and effect of climate change on the water cycle in the form of a large train with linked boxcars and call it the Hydro-logical System Express.  It moves through the Earth’s Ecosystems where all moving parts are connected for Nature’s essential synergy within the Earth’s Biosphere.  As you can quickly see, this road map is much more than a friendly springtime shower.

Water moves around the Earth in a water cycle with immemorial, basic mechanics: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration and surface run-off. Along the way, it affects water supplies, food webs, health, sanitation, and energy production.

Imagine, this natural process is now steaming through a time of Climate Change with huge possible interference by affecting the amount, distribution and quality of available water.  In turn, communities, industries and ecosystems can also be impacted, directly or indirectly.

Here is the Nature's scientific engineering fact: hotter climate causes more water to evaporate from land and ocean water. This also means greater plant transpiration which results in water loss in soil and plants.

Imagine there are five boxcars linked to the water cycle that show cause and effect:

ONE:  A warmer atmosphere can hold more water moisture; roughly four percent more water for every 1 degree rise in temperature.  One result is increased precipitation and runoff, leading to flooding. Another result, depending on geography, is less precipitation and longer drought periods.

TWO:  Mountain melt water and runoff provide more than 50 percent of the world’s freshwater. Therefore, as global temperatures rise, mountain glaciers and snow packs are melting at an unprecedented rate creating greater water stress in the habitats. Just think, glaciers can’t be replaced once they’re gone.

THREE: Valuable groundwater levels will be affected along with accelerated water competition and stress at the surface about its proper use without overusing this limited resource. Water quality will decline within the ecosystems as well. For example, higher water temperatures in lakes, streams and reservoirs result in lower levels of dissolved oxygen which adds more stress on the fish, insects, microorganisms and other aquatic animals that rely on oxygen.

FOUR: More precipitation will cause a greater pollution load to be washed into our waterways, such as nitrogen from agriculture, pesticides, herbicides and even disease pathogens. It’s simply another engineering cycle that all water will return eventually to the coastal ocean waters. This can create blooms of harmful algae and bacteria such as blue-green algae or red tide which, in turn, can damage aquatic life and  produce dangerous toxins for humans and other animals to touch or drink; thereby, hurting the fisheries, shellfish and tourism economies. A new reality called ocean acidification will need further study.

FIVE: As oceans become warmer along with an increased melt from ice  caps and glaciers, the sea levels will rise. This will drive saltwater into freshwater aquifers affecting the drinking supply as well as irrigation. These threats to fragile coastal communities are alarming as infrastructure and  economies try to cope for a roughly estimated more than 200 million people worldwide who live along coastlines less than 5 meters above sea level; a number that could reach 400 to 500 million by the end of the 21st century.

Of course, the picture of a Hydro-logical System Express throttling through our land is a caricature oversimplification. There are far greater dimensions and confluences to the survival of the planet itself based on the variable living Ecosystems which aggregate to make the Earth’s Biosphere.

Each ecosystem has its own energy cycle which contains all of the living species and all non-living elements in any particular environment, whether as a single tree, a forest or even a puddle. This energy flows from the sun through plants, food producers, consumers,  microorganisms, and animals which ends with decomposition in order to recycle the process again.  Climate change may force habitat relocation and upset the food chain or contribute to species extinction. It will affect human land development, agriculture, erosion, flooding, droughts, or greater wildfires.

Still larger, the all-embracing and cohesive mother of all, is the Biosphere based on water, air and minerals found on land where all life exists below ground, above ground and at least 200 meters of the ocean and seas. Energy flow is essential to maintain the structure of organisms by the splitting of phosphate bonds. As levels of greenhouse gases increase, including more water vapor, the Earth responds with higher temperatures. As the Biosphere’s temperature increases, it becomes global warming versus climate change which is more localized long-term pattern changes in weather conditions.

There are arguments as to which degree human activity is responsible for climate change affecting the causes and effects of the water cycle. But there is no argument that such a wide range of human activities depend, directly or indirectly, on water and that future climate-driven changes in water resources will affect many aspects of our lives.

So next time you look up at some lazy cloud passing by on a warmer day than usual, or a tumult of clouds building along the horizon, please visualize the all-powerful water cycle connecting all possible links to precipitation, run-offs, surface water, pollution, ocean levels, ecosystems, communities and so much more within the vastness of this blue planet’s Biosphere.

Then, see yourself as one individual who needs to do your part which is morally right and responsible to keep your water in your space to be as pure and fresh as possible to make all life possible.

Questions and comments are always welcome and appreciated to further this discussion. What are some of your questions or experiences with water or lack of?

Annemarie Berukoff

 PS: It gives me great pride to be the author of a special e-book for children of all ages called The Incredible Journey of a Water Sprite with Roots on his Mission to Discover Cyclical Truths …

Read more about the Most Common Question Asked about the Incredible Journey of The Water Sprite with Plant Roots with a Table of Contents   

It can be downloaded here:

Excerpt: My thoughts wander about the kind of ecology that humankinds believe in, as I have witnessed. Do they get it that natural life begins with DNA in a nucleus, one celled animals and plants, then species and then an ecosystem? Do they know that every small ecosystem is part of the total large biosphere on Earth that connects them all; water, air, food, resources, and shelter? Do they realize that perpetual growth, industry or destruction of any habitat is not sustainable on a limited planet?

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Clarion Call in Defense of Public Education in a New Digital Social Order

Clarion Call in Defense of Public Education in a New Digital Social Order 

“The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she would have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self. You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education” ― Tara Westover, Educated

A Clarion is a shrill, narrow-tubed trumpet formerly used in war; also, a clear and loud description.

Let me be that soldier or educator with my call out to say that public education as decreed for hundreds of years must not be ingested by the many current online strategies to displace its value. This week for the first time, I saw a TV advertisement and a Facebook page for an online Academy to enroll students from kindergarten to high school. At the same time, the American government requested to cut more than $8.5 billion from the Education Department budget and add a proposed $5 billion plan to support private schools. Realizing the power of mass media, public opinion can be willfully diverted.  

 A public school is an icon of the community. As such, teaching takes an active role in social responsibility in a changing technological society to maintain values, manners and fundamental skills for survival. But when society has undergone such a radical change in such a short time, what do we know how to best educate for survival in this new social order of massive technological changes, information overload where quick tweets can substitute for learned input. 

The public educational process has gone through numerous reformations to meet continuing societal demands. But I worry how public education will survive this technological opponent under various names of modern education, online e-learning and free public virtual schools, especially at the elementary level.

First, I can mainly refer to my 24 years as a public-school teacher teaching grades from grade 3 (7 years old) to grade 8 (14 years old). I have an Bachelor of Education degree based on four years of university teacher preparation with core subjects as well as early childhood development, psychology  and sociology.

Yes, I worked with specific curriculum objectives as mandated by the provincial Department of Education to ensure standardized learning outcomes at every grade level. There were daily lesson plans complete with resources, outlines, activities and evaluations. There was satisfaction at the end of a class and the school year when the students left with more What I Know Now vs What I Didn’t Know when I Started.

Every subject had its particular parameters, facts, schematics, formulas, and hypothesis. But the classroom atmosphere had much more to offer. There could be 30 young people of different backgrounds, aptitudes and abilities in an enclosure who also had to learn the values of obedience, co-operation and group management.  There was mindfulness for students of limited abilities. There was problem-solving and creativity from many perspectives and challenges. There was brainstorming and decision-making with multiple variables where the best alternative was with democratic approval. Analysis was communal and leadership self-evident.

These are essential skills of listening and collaborating that are co-factors in an integrated public-school education, along with a broad based global and historical courses of study from biology to physics to algebra to ancient history to literature. It wasn’t about any student's self-centered preference about whatever I want to learn, but public participation in how society and environment continue to work together. 

No doubt, a public-school system has its constraints in a digital society. Perhaps a well-rounded core education doesn’t matter to your all-knowing cellphone. But it’s not a matter of learning to use a calculator versus learning the multiplication tables by rote; or better yet, by drawing pictures of things multiplying or dividing into equal groups. It’s not a matter of using Google to spell correctly or use grammatical syntax. It’s the sequential thinking process that matters. In my brief encounter with computers in a classroom, I have yet to see a program that outlines how to write specific stylistic paragraphs for various reasons while sharing evaluations for improvements.  

No doubt, several complaints about public education can validate discussions such as too much curriculum being teacher centered; an old grading system related to passing exams; passive disengaged students more electronically geared; overcrowding and school closures; lack of parental involvement; being passed on to higher grades without grade level adequate skills; facing negative group behaviors; too  many extra-curricular distractions; and even, possibly poor teachers who practice favoritism. But I remember my Math professor once saying all you really need is one good teacher to turn you into a life-long student ... maybe he was right … virtual or a real handshake.

No doubt, there are several compliments about online learning that works best for the self-directed motivated students, who can progress at their own pace, working in a home environment, with remote instructors and virtual tutors, with interactive media and resources, automated evaluation via digital logs, and who can manage to stay the course from entertaining games. Parent supervision may be needed  to make sure assignments are turned in. Perhaps you’d agree that this self-directed learning is better for older students or adults interested in upgrading.

But, there are also problems such as lack of social interaction or developing relationships with peers, other than communication on forums, chat rooms, message boards and videos usually with homogeneous viewpoints. So how do you learn to deal with diversity or discrepancy in different  situations?  

Undeniably, digital screens have become the natural habitat of young people in a transformation of subjects and thoughts unlike anything experienced in human history.  This Internet of all Things has created Great Changes in our society and culture forever, but where are the educational safety nets for young developing brains?

For example, my current worry and project is especially about educating teen girls who are surrounded by a brand-new vocabulary and motivation in a Selfie Domain with no training or denotation.

And therein are two problems. First, a general lack of teaching knowledge how to cope with this new subject matter. Usually, any new subject requires learning with clear objectives like any other study; preparation, asking questions, content, decision making and evaluation. Unfortunately, there is a lack of training for young girls at any level to gain any kind of understanding much less mastery over these overwhelming changes. Ignorance and confusion are a lethal mixture.

 The second problem, based on lack of preparation within the context, is how young girls are being taken advantage of by mass media which brainwashes their developing minds with adult prerogatives.  For example, how unnatural is it for young girls to sexualize their bodies to be "LIKE" adult images or role play? Part of this assault is their addiction to their cell phones and manufactured Selfies but with limited educational or survival strategies.

More than ever, I believe public schools are the best places to address and discuss this issue and others related to information overload and hyper social media interaction. These are serious social issues best dealt with by social discussion and remediation where listening, cooperation and empathy play central figures and consensus is mutual.  

I believe that business and political opportunities should not interfere in this sacred passage rite from childhood to adulthood. The future of education must not be monopolized by internet corporate giants with material agendas which is much easier to do with e-learners in digital controlled environments.

There is no doubt that technology as an integral part of daily life, for better and worse, needs to be incorporated into traditional classrooms.The fact remains that more and more educational tools, resources and Apps are always on the horizon to facilitate the learning process and improve outcomes.

But, as a final word, I hope it will be a broad-based public education with an open classroom with different backgrounds, experiences, and decision making based on majority consensus in order to show students how to effectively participate in society and produce positive contributions. 

Your comments and questions are always important to continue this discussion. 


PS: You may be interested to read how 24 centuries ago, a Greek philosopher started with an image of a large cave descending into the Earth, our natural connection. Read how how Plato’s allegory of the Cave still applies even more in the search for truth via education especially in a digital world. 

Excerpt: There has never been a greater urgency to make the case that public education must remain democratic, diverse and strong; especially for young people who are the stimulus and hope as they inherit the future with greater degrees of fairness, ethics and justice, both to the kinds of society and environment they want to live in. 

  Who Will Answer the Mother of All Questions as Anti-Social Facebook Faces Reality Check? “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppress...