By Adam Guzman-Poole
It was just afternoon when I was faced with the question: “Will I live long enough to see my grandkids.” And if I do, what world will we they live in.” It seems a strange thing to ask at 27, but ever since hearing the results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the very near future looks like Armageddon. The 600-page report conducted by 91 scientists basically said that if we don’t do something, and now, the effects of climate change will be irreversible. If we continue to extract the earth’s resources at our current rate, constant hurricanes, massive droughts, food scarcity, and a world beyond repair is something we can expect in the span of 20 years. This looks like a pretty scary future for all of us. If we continue, one of our earth’s most important resources may be the first under threat - water.
The Water Disclosure Project said that: “Much of the impact of climate change will be felt through changing patterns in water availability.” It also said that with the rising temperatures caused by climate change, it can be expected that we will experience many more droughts felt all over the planet, causing a worldwide water shortage. It is estimated that in 12 years’ time, almost half the world will be feeling a scarcity of one our world’s most important resources.
Now despite how important water is to us and how finite it is, our government allows large corporations to extract this resource from our lakes right here in Ontario, for fractions of pennies, only to sell it back to us at costs more expensive than gasoline.
Despite what many think, bottled water is not safer. Lauren DeRusha Florez, Campaign Director for Corporate Accountability International, said: “The bottled water industry has spent millions of dollars to convince us that the only place you can get safe water is from a bottle.” Our tap water is better regulated and undergoes vigorous safety testing. Bottled water, on the other hand, doesn't have to meet any of those standards to be distributed. Additionally, in several scientific tests, bottled water has not proven to be any safer than tap water. That could be because almost half of all bottled water consumed is just regular tap water.
Not to mention that the amount of oil used to make a year's worth of bottles for the planet could fuel all of Ottawa’s cars and some for an entire year. And transporting that water to selling locations by truck adds increases the carbon footprint. And in the end, further contributing to that very real possible future of a world on fire in about 20 years’ time —if we don’t do anything about it.
That is, “IF” we don’t do anything about it…
That is why we are coming together to create a coalition of committed citizens and residents to create the Ottawa we want to live in. We are beginning a campaign to end bottled water in Ottawa, beginning with banning of commercial sales in City Hall. We know that this a small step when it comes to the larger challenges posed by climate change, but an important one, because it will serve as symbol to unite us a city - city that says yes to earth and is proud to be leading the way for a better tomorrow.
Recently San Francisco banned the sales of bottled water, serving as a leader in the United States. Imagine if Ottawa could be leading that type of change in Canada. Imagine if the citizens and residents of this city could stand proud knowing we took an active stance for the climate, for our communities, and for our families. Join us on March 22nd on World Water Day as we come together as proud citizens and residents to demand that the city bans the use of plastic bottles in City Hall.
Join us as we create the Ottawa, we want to live in.
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Eric Schiller is a founding member of OWSAG and a retired University of Ottawa civil engineering professor.