Protecting rivers and communities from the ravages of large dams tends to involve brainy pursuits: there’s often a heavy focus on policy and political issues, and on designing strategic campaigns to stop destructive river projects and promote better options. While these efforts play a very important role in countering the powerful forces that threaten our rivers, the global river protection movement is also working to change hearts as well as minds. Around the world, groups are using the arts to reach people’s hearts and to promote a vision of water and energy for everyone, and a respect for rivers and the life, livelihoods and traditions tied to them. As one artist told us, “Art is a megaphone to project our side of the story.”
In this issue we hear from a wide range of groups who are using creativity to educate and build community for healthy rivers. This special issue ofWorld Rivers Review includes interviews, art works and essays by artist-activists using art, music, poetry and film to create social change.
To Learn More and Download the December Issue Click Here: International Rivers
“Do you think they’re about to have sex?”, one of the group whispers. I’m in Transylvania, crouched in the bushes with a bunch of activists in balaclavas, taking turns to speculate why a car has crept to a halt close to where we are hiding out. “No, it must be the cops, you can see the light from the mobile phone”, another one says. Time to move on.
It has been over an hour since the group started trashing equipment owned by the gas exploration company Prospectiuni, playing an edgy game of cat and mouse as we struggle to stay one step ahead of the security teams and police vehicles that are now sweeping the hilltops looking for us.
Another light tears round the bend on the road and the shout goes through the team to hide. I throw myself down, stretched out once again in the cool damp grass of a Transylvanian meadow. It’s going to be a long night.
In recent weeks the sleepy Saxon communities and protected forests of Sibiu county in Transylvania, have become an unlikely front for a new battleground, pitting gas exploration companies, the Romanian government and international investment firms, against a small band of environmental activists from across Romania, who are working side by side with local farmers to resist gas and oil exploration that they claim is taking place illegally on their land.
Read More: Alternet
Some good news out of the Middle East region for a change: It was announced at the Israel Business Forum that Israel has signed an historic water-sharing agreement with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. But not all parties are happy with political manoeuvrings around the announcement.
The new project will include a new desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan, at the northern tip of the Red Sea in order to provide Jordan and Israel with a new source of drinking water. As per the agreement, Israel would release some of its water from Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee), further north, to flow to Jordan, and at the same time provide desalinated water to the Palestinians to use in the West Bank.
In a later phase of the project a 180km pipeline system might transport brine produced in the desalination plant form the Red Sea north to the Dead Sea, but officials on the ground say they don’t have information that it would be part of Monday’s agreement.
Read More: Green Prophet
Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org
“The mountain valleys of the North Indian state of Uttarakhand have been heavily developed with hydropower projects, tourism resorts and other infrastructure. When a cloudburst hit the state in June 2013, the choked rivers were unable to cope with the ravaging floods. Flashfloods washed away hundreds of buildings, bridges and dams, claimed more than 5,000 lives and caused an estimated damage of $50 billion.
Climate change will bring more extreme weather events such as droughts and the cloudburst experienced in Uttarakhand. Healthy rivers and their floodplains act as natural buffers that protect us from the worst vagaries of a changing climate. Free-flowing rivers build the deltas and mangrove belts that protect our coastlines, preserve fisheries and forests, and recharge the groundwater reserves that sustain our water supply and agriculture. Floodplains, marshes, dunes, reefs and mangrove forests – often referred to as green infrastructure or bioshields – are vital to making our societies more climate resilient.
Climate change is water change. Learning from earlier flood disasters and preparing for climate change, governments, scientists and environmental organizations have started to remove levees and recreate floodplains on rivers such as the Rhine, the lower Yangtze and the lower Danube. Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change is being promoted by forward-looking tools such as the EU Water Framework Directive and the UNECE Water Convention.”
Read more: International Rivers
Canada’s rush to exploit its tar sands and shale gas resources will destroy the environment “as fast as possible”, according to Noam Chomsky.
In an interview with the Guardian, the linguist and author criticized the energy policies of the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He said: “It means taking every drop of hydrocarbon out of the ground, whether it’s shale gas in New Brunswick or tar sands in Alberta and trying to destroy the environment as fast as possible, with barely a question raised about what the world will look like as a result.”
But indigenous peoples in Canada blocking fossil fuel developments are taking the lead in combatting climate change, he said. Chomsky highlighted indigenous opposition to the Alberta tar sands, the oil deposit that is Canada’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions and is slated for massive expansion despite attracting international criticism and protest.
Read More: The Guardian
Jenna Cavelle and Paiute Harry Williams being interviewed by NPR's The California Report
In “Water Wars: Native American Inclusion and Moving Toward Peace”, PeakWater.org Founder, Jenna Cavelle will share her recent work with the Owens Valley Paiute community with UC Berkeley undergraduates in a course titled ESPM 100: Environmental Problem Solving.
Lecture Summary: “In considering water wars as a global phenomenon that is expected to rise as the climate changes, inclusion of all stakeholders is critical. The solutions for resource conflict are never straightforward but working toward peace begins with healing the historical trauma of affected communities. This lecture will showcase how community service and outreach are restoring cultural landscapes and memory of the Owens Valley Paiute, and in the process, re-imagining peaceful solutions to America’s longest-lived water war.”
November 7th, at 2pm in the Life Sciences Building, Room 101
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org
“Researchers warn that the planet is headed for severe scarcity in which the global poor, as well as people living in parts of Asia and North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, will be hardest hit. “Now this is not a question of ducks and daisies, but of our unique natural heritage, the very basis of life,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, one of the co-authors and director of PIK, in a Tuesday announcement about the the studies.
The current pledges of the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not aggressive enough to curb the spiraling problem of water scarcity, researchers found in a series of modeling studies.
“Mean global warming of 2 degrees, the target set by the international community, is projected to expose an additional 8 percent of humankind to new or increased water scarcity,” says Dieter Gerten, lead-author of one of the studies. “3.5 degrees – likely to occur if national emissions reductions remain at currently pledged levels – would affect 11 percent of the world population.”
If the globe warms 5 degrees Celsius, which PIK says it is on-target to do by the end of the century if “business-as-usual” continues, the number of people directly affected by new or increased water scarcity will reach well over 1 billion, a stunning 13 percent of the global human population.”
Read more: Common Dreams
Radiation readings around tanks holding contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have spiked by more than a fifth to their highest levels, Japan’s nuclear regulator said Wednesday, heightening concerns about the cleanup of the worst atomic disaster in almost three decades.
Radiation hot spots have spread to three holding areas for hundreds of hastily built tanks storing water contaminated by being flushed over three reactors that melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.
The rising radiation levels and leaks at the plant further inflamed international alarm, one day after the Japanese government said that it would step in with almost $500 million of funding to fix the growing levels of contaminated water at the plant.
Readings just above the ground near a set of tanks at the plant showed radiation as high as 2,200 millisieverts (mSv), Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said Wednesday. The previous high in areas holding the tanks was the 1,800 mSv recorded Saturday.
READ MORE: Al Jazeera
Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com
“Pictures taken by NASA satellites reveal an alarming loss of freshwater in the Middle East.
Two important rivers are disappearing, and if they vanish millions of people will be affected.
In just seven years, 144 cubic kilometres of water has been lost.
Al Jazeera’s Gerald Tan explains.”
Read more: Aljazeera
Photo retrieved from: www.asme.org
“Each year brings new pressures on water. One-third of the world’s people already live in countries with moderate to high water stress. Competition is growing between farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country. Upstream and downstream, and across borders, we need to cooperate for the benefit of all – now and in the future,” “he added.
The General Assembly proclaimed 2013 International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010, following a proposal from Tajikistan. The Year will serve to raise awareness and prompt action on the multiple dimensions of water cooperation, such as sustainable and economic development, climate change and food security.
“Over-exploitation, management, financing of water resources, all of these aspects are incredibly important and cooperation at different levels is therefore critical,” UNESCO Science Specialist Ms. Ana Persic, said during a media briefing to mark the start of the Year at UN Headquarters in New York, USA.
Persic added that the benefits of intensifying cooperation include poverty reduction, equity, economic growth, and the protection of the environment.” “We know water is critical for human life, but it is also critical for life on Earth if we want to protect and sustainably manage the planet we have.”
Read more: All Africa