In 2010 the famed nature photographer Frans Lanting provided images for a National Geographic Magazine article on water. These words opened the article: “The amount of moisture on Earth has not changed. The water the dinosaurs drank millions of years ago is the same water that falls as rain today. But will there be enough for a more crowded world?”
I often contemplate these words when ocean swells are crashing on the jagged rocks that line the shores, sprinkling my face in the sea breeze. The drop running down my check may once have moistened the rough skin of a T-Rex. Things last forever it seems. Then the reality sets in that changes in the atmosphere these days are not “natural” and are bringing irreparable damages to our no longer “sure and certain future” as a planet.
We’ve lately raised the Earth’s average temperature by .74°C (1.3°F), a number that sounds trivial. But these words do not: rising sea levels, flood, drought and hurricanes. Water is the discernible face of Earth’s climate and, therefore, climate change. Shifting rain patterns flood some regions and dry up others.
The human race is slow to give up on our myth of the Earth’s imperishable generosity. We pumped aquifers and diverted rivers believing there would always be an endless supply of water to support our expansion. Like the crashing of the sea waves we expect the supply of water to never stop coming.
The aforementioned article ends with these words: “The gentle nudge of evidence, the guidance of science, and a heart for protecting the commons: these are the tools of a new century. Taking a wide-eyed look at a watery planet is our way of knowing the stakes, the better to know our place.”
Feel the sea breeze and thank Mother Earth for sharing her waters … and then do something to help her keep the rivers and the waves in regenerative motion!
Photos: Waves at Duncans Landing along the Sonoma Coast.