Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flow: For Love of Water

Before I launch into a full fledged discussion of the movie I mentioned in the title of this post, I feel a bit of a responsibility to give a less cryptic explanation of the point of this blog. There is something to be said for refraining from posting when your brain is fried. Of course, I could apply that to now, but this discussion is neither here nor there. In essence, the point of this blog is to provide a venue in which I will discuss some of the environmental issues that come up throughout my studies this semester. I am taking two environmentally related class and a class about the non-profit sector so I will be inundated by material with which to fuel my posts. 

Now that the administrative business is accounted for, I'd like to mention some of my reactions to the movie Flow: For Love of Water, which I saw last night. This 2008 documentary by Irena Salina, drives at the question of whether anyone can actually own water. The film is about an hour and a half long and rife with scenes of third world citizens drinking from horrifically dirty water supplies and equally terrifying clips of the depletion of the world's sources of fresh water. 

My friends and I left the movie feeling as though the end of the world was imminent. Despite the apocalyptic undertones, the documentary brought to light the injustice of the privatization of water by large corporations like Suez and Vivendi. These companies essentially force poor countries into contracts which allow them to control and limit the supply and quality of the water that already destitute people have access to. 

In addition, the movie showcased a small Michigan town's fight with a Nestle water bottling plant that was rapidly destroying all the natural water sources in their region. The concept of bottled water is fascinating because companies like Nestle pump water for free and then sell the bottled water to the general American public and make a mint. Why do we buy what we already pay for? Especially, when there are fewer regulations on the quality of bottled water than there are on the quality of water that comes out of the tap. In addition, plastic bottles are a made of a non-renewable resource and the chemicals that run-off into the water supply as a result of their production add to the pollution of fresh water. 

These are just a few examples of the problems with water that Salina delves into throughout the film. I highly recommend seeing the documentary as soon as possible. If you can't find it at a theater near you, then you should make a point to find it when it comes out on DVD. Either way, you can expect to finish the movie feeling uncertain as to what you should do. 

You feel as though the water situation in the world is a lose lose one. Who does own water, if anyone? Who decides who gets clean water and who doesn't? Is access to water a birth right of all humans? How do we ensure that everyone has access to clean water, while still conserving our fresh water? 

These are just a few of the questions raised by the film, but they all come back to the problem that water is the most necessary requirement for human survival, not to mention every other organism's survival on this planet. How do we become responsible stewards of this precious resource? 

In response to the film, I am going to start by avoiding buying bottle water at all costs and I will probably invest in some type of water filtering system. No water is as clean as you tell yourself it is. No matter what, the importance of being aware of how much water you consume as an individual cannot be discounted or downplayed. I plan on learning more about ways to conserve water as well as support the provision of clean water supplies to third world countries. I'll post whatever I find out...

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