The challenge of safeguarding our environment—both for ourselves and for future generations—can be overwhelming. The threats to “this fragile earth, our island home” are as real as they are legion, and the answers are complex. Sometimes it is necessary for us to focus on one environmental issue to help us get a better picture of the whole. That is what happened this past week as the world observed World Water Day.
World Water Day originated at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The day is largely educational in focus, drawing attention to the threats to water sources throughout the world, but chiefly among the poorest nations, where drought, contamination and privatization conspire to frustrate our most basic human need.
Politically, some foresee that water will be the oil of the future, that is, that water will replace oil as the world’s most threatened natural resource, causing a new alignment of nations around water rights, conservation, and storage.
This week we read in the Gospel of Jesus offering to the Samaritan woman “living water”, such that she would not have to come to the well again to draw water. In a desert climate it was a compelling notion. But no less in modern times, where our care for the environment need look no further than the protection of our water sources, and the assurance that all people everywhere have access to this most basic elixir of life. For more information visit: www.worldwaterday.org.