There are multiple reports that parts of world are in deep water – and before you say that it doesn’t apply to you, keep reading. Climate change is a global concern; consequently, it will affect us all eventually.
A monsoon in Pakistan killed more than 1,100 people, including nearly 400 children. It is one of the country’s worst monsoon seasons in a decade. UN General Secretary António Guterres said the world is “sleepwalking” into environmental ruination.
There is not enough water in China. The country is experiencing its longest and most widespread heatwave on record. The 11-week streak has created a drought, impacting the country’s main source of power — its dams — which resulted in the shutdown of factories.
The residents of Jackson, Mississippi, don’t have clean water. A systemic issue, the residents who have been speaking out for years are now being told to shower with their mouths closed after the water treatment plant failed.
There is also a drought Texas, resulting in an estimated $2 billion dollar loss to the farming economy. Southern California is also facing widespread drought, prompting them to make cuts to reduce water usage.
But, if you are thinking, “That’s sad and too bad for them,” then consider this new research from Stockholm University suggesting that rainwater is not safe to drink anywhere on the planet due to “forever chemicals.”
These chemicals (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS) are human-made chemicals and not a product of our natural environment. “There has been an astounding decline in guideline values for PFAS in drinking water in the last 20 years,” says Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and professor at the Department of Environmental Science. Consequently, they won’t just go away.
We have celebrated Earth Day on April 22 since 1970. For more than 50 years, we have called attention to the damage of pollutants and capitalistic consumption of natural resources. And in 2015, Pope Francis established September 1 as a “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.”
So detached from the ground beneath our feet, we needed to be reminded of the world around us.
We have heightened our awareness as a global community, but there is still work to do. The Environmental Protection Agency lists several ways we can protect the water:
- “Post signs along the border of your source water protection area to notify people that any pollution in that area can affect the quality of local drinking water.
- Don’t dump hazardous waste on the ground: motor oil, pesticides, leftover paints or paint cans, mothballs, flea collars, household cleaners, and (several) medicines, which can contaminate the soil and the groundwater or nearby surface water.
- Find a watershed or wellhead protection organization or a source water collaborative in your community and volunteer to help.
- Join in a beach, stream or wetland cleanup.
- Prepare a presentation about your watershed for a school or civic organization. Discuss water quality threats, including the dangers of polluted runoff and habitat loss. In your presentation, highlight actions people can take to protect water quality, such as limiting fertilizer use and eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides.”
Instead of taking care of business, we would do well to “Take Care of Your Blessings.” This is how feminist author Toni Cade Bambara used to sign her emails.
It is easy to take care of the earth when we decenter ourselves and focus on the needs of the world itself, asking, “What does the water need from us?” and “What is it asking us to do and to stop doing?”
American anthropologist Loren Eiseley said, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” I tend to believe him.
Christians believe in the God of creation. Consequently, we must focus on the world around us, treating creation care as a daily practice of discipleship. It is not an uncommon belief.
Mystic and theologian Howard Thurman talked to the trees and said of water, “The ocean and the night together surrounded my little life with a reassurance that could not be affronted by the behavior of human beings.” He said that the water protected him from white supremacy.
As baptized believers, we have a relationship with the water too; it gives our lives new meaning. Twice born upon its waves, it guides us safely to our new life in Jesus Christ. We come to faith through the water and rise water-marked. We can all testify to what the water has done for our faith and how it helps us to practice our faith.
We could use more green theologians and more believers commissioned to “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15, NRSV). The water would love to hear from you.