World Water Day was celebrated this past March 22. It is a day created in 1993 by the UN to bring light the importance of water to life among people. This year’s celebration was dedicated to Water and Sustainable Development. Previous World Water Days brought awareness to women’s issues, food, disasters, etc. In California, we are in the midst of a drought and so, in my work with teenagers, talking about water and having it immediately relate back to his/her day-to-day life is an obvious conversation. Water is a limited resource that nourishes us, cleanses us and entertains us and it is to be shared with not only ourselves, but also with nature.
I went surfing this past weekend in Ventura and while there, we ended up talking about surf spots up along the California coast and how surf spots usually tend to go extinct through geological happenings. A current example of a surf spot that has gone extinct is in Hawaii, where there is currently a slow moving lava flow on the main island that has created a new shelf and has changed where the waves break. With this bon mot of a story, we can easily explore how places get named, how waves work and how landforms appear.
Talking specifically about the drought, I would like to bring up about one of the places most hard struck by the drought in California, the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is an unintentional man made creation from when the Colorado River was diverted for agricultural purposes and the runoff became a saline lake. The Salton Sea was briefly a seaside resort and now looks like a ghost town. A good conversation point would be to consider that even though the Salton Sea is a manmade landform, it has now become a wildlife refuge. However, because it is at a low point geologically, it has much runoff pollution in its waters. If we, as a society, decide not to let water flow to the Salton Sea, what will happen to the wildlife refuge and the pollution that is contained in its water?
All people need water to survive. In some parts of the developing world, water is even more precious of a resource than it is here and needs to be collected on a regular basis from the town’s well. Women and children tend to be the people responsible to fetch the water in large water vessels that are carried on the body. I have difficulty lifting a Sparkletts carboy into the water cooler; imagine having to regularly carry a five-gallon bucket, approximately 42-pounds of bucket + water on my head. A brilliant innovation are these water buckets that roll. This is such a simple solution and I like to ask how other problems can also be solved. Also, when these problems are solved should they be monetized? These are not easy questions to answer.
Here is a brief list of suggested library materials for further information:
For an entertaining look at the residents of the Salton Sea, watch the John Waters narrated: Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea DVD 333.9794 P6985.
For more on surfing, take a look at Matt Warshaw’s The History of Surfing 797.6 W295-1.
To read even more on surfing and also large waves, pick up Susan Casey’s The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean 551.47 C338.
To start the conversation about water rights and issues, specifically to the American West, take a look at the new classic Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water 333.978 R377 1993.
To talk about creativity, innovation and (un)intended consequences, read and talk about Steven Johnson’s How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World 301 J695.
To talk about how young people can make a difference, a recent brilliant example would be Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban 370.95491 Y82-1.
As always, consider checking out our databases. A good place to start to look to talk about water would be Gale’s Science in Context. You will need to enter in your library card information. From there, look for the collection of curated articles on Fresh Water, Ground Water and Water Pollution.
For snazzier pro and con articles, take a look at Opposing Viewpoints. Enter in your library card information and take a look at their collection of articles on Water Pollution.
Hopefully, this brief missive and booklist has raised some topics of conversation with the people, both young and old, in your life. Come visit us at Teen’Scape and check out our resources and our programs.