A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

THE UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Life Below Water (English Translation)

Our intimate relationship with water

We live in times when we must question our actions, and see if we bring something positive to our world. These are times of great change that call us to imagine a reality free of inequality and everything that destroys the Earth.

Our responsibility is to focus, connect with what is significant and arouse curiosity, to find new possibilities and solutions. Earth has been violated for a long time, and continues to be so due to unsustainable human activity. Any positive change in our lifestyle that benefits her will not be forgotten—neither by Earth, nor by our future generations.

The oceans, their temperature, chemical composition, currents, and life are the engine of the global systems that make the Earth a habitable place, as explained by the scientific community supported by the United Nations. This shows that without healthy oceans, we will not survive.

For this decade, the UN has as objective number 14, to reverse the acidification of the seas, due to the carbon dioxide generated by human activities that are contaminating marine life at alarming levels.

Every time our activity emits more CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the result is that the oceans become warmer because they absorb enormous amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. The climate changes that cause floods, storms, and hurricanes; or that intensify winters and threaten polar habitats are due to ocean warming.

The impact of CO2 emissions also affects plankton, microscopic organisms that live on the ocean floor and produce almost half of the oxygen we breathe. Because the oceans become more acidic as the temperature of their waters increase, these drivers of our terrestrial life cannot support so much acid and that is why the plankton population has been diminished in great proportion.

By 2025, the UN aims to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, particularly that caused by land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

One of these great pollutants is plastic. Our dependence on plastic is incredible. We already know how we use it, but perhaps we haven’t seen the cumulative cost it has charged on the environment. UN statistics show that for every square kilometer of ocean there is an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic waste.

We can sadly say that there is more plastic than marine life and that almost all fish contain plastic particles in their bodies. We have also seen images of how plastic chokes turtles, seals and birds that inhabit the sea coasts. We can at least stop buying things with plastic packaging; stop using straws to drink juices; or replace water in disposable plastic bottles with one that we routinely use. These acts preserve life or even save the life of an animal, in some cases.

Furthermore, drinking water is an increasingly scarce resource. Approximately 40 percent of the world’s population is already experiencing the adverse effects of a shortage that will grow, according to the UN. Protecting our rights to drinking water are very important issues because droughts and lack of water displace entire communities from their places of origin.

Plant a small tree in defense of the water. A tree stores water at its roots. It recharges the aquifers and nourishes the vegetation around it when it is a forest. Ecosystems, biodiversity, and economies depend on water and its filters, the trees.

Thanks to the photosynthesis of their leaves, trees transpire oxygen and absorb CO2, helping to revert a chain of reaction unleashed by greenhouse gases: a global warming that alters precipitation patterns, and that creates extreme atmospheric phenomena that increases the sea levels. So plant them and take care of them.

I want to end with an appreciation for water, a vital element that nourishes us and gives us life. I invite you all to make a promise to take care of it, to not waste it, to recognize that our bodies themselves contain 60 percent of it. Because we have such an intimate biological and emotional relationship with water, we can commit to caring for her in all its forms, be it on the root of a tree, in the seas, or in our own kitchens.