Like millions of others around the world, I am feeling very disappointed in the outcome of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. I am an optimist who nearly always sees the glass half full, however, having extensively studied the science of global warming and climate change, I know that it does not bode well for us, nor future generations, that these leaders have not been able to act more decisively.
I do, however, think that this lack of strength in leadership will fuel the biggest grass roots movement of all time, and that people everywhere will come together to act locally and globally to mitigate the human impacts that contribute to global warming.
And so, with these thoughts in mind, I am choosing to write about water, (the precious element that covers most of this planet – one of the reasons it is often referred to as the Water Planet), because many of the global effects of a warming planet and climate change relate to water. From rising oceans, to intensified storms systems, droughts and floods, water is inevitably implicated in some way.
Fresh water is a precious resource that millions of people on this planet still have no access to, and many of us who do continue to waste it. In 2008, when Florida was experiencing extreme drought conditions and the city of Atlanta, GA was announcing only 60 days of water left in its reservoir; I was giving a series of workshops in schools about water conservation. I was shocked to find that no one attending those classes knew there was a drought in Florida, not even the teachers. This was astounding to me since it had been constantly talked about in the media. But like our health, we tend to take for granted the precious elements that give us life, until something happens.
Teaching children about water can help to introduce them to the phenomenal essence of life on this planet, which obviously includes us! I always think that it is about wonder; if we can see the wonderment in things then that inspires in us a constant curiosity and delight in the simplest of things.
Water attracts us, draws us to watch it and feel it; who isn’t awed by a perfect rainbow, a magnificent waterfall, a turquoise blue ocean, perfect snow crystals gently falling, or a glass of fresh, cool water on a hot summer’s day? So let’s teach kids how amazing it is, how valuable and important it is to all of us.
1. For older children: How does sea ice form? We hear so much talk these days about the arctic ice melting, but what are the conditions for its formation and why does it float? How does it form in rough water? This Arctic Theme Page has some of the answers that you might want to share with your students.
2. Earth is often referred to as the Water Planet with only one ocean. I produced this short Video for the Curious Kids Nature Club that provides some insights.
3. Learn about your watershed. Everyone lives on a watershed, and that watershed affects the streams, rivers, lakes and of course, the ocean. Many who live inland do not realize that they are intricately connected to the ocean. Here are a list of Links about watersheds.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation also has some good information.
And here is a Watershed Game !
4. Do a water audit with the kids! This means that they have to look at all the ways in which they use water and figure out how they can use less. For example, how long is the shower they take? Here’s a List of 25 ways in which to conserve water at home and in the yard. Play the Footprint Game
This USGS Website has some interesting insights about water!
Interconnections: Tell the story of a river. What is the closest river to you? Find out and learn about it with your students. Who lives up-stream? Who lives downstream? A River Reborn is a really inspiring film about the restoration of Fossil Creek – it clearly demonstrates how a river impacts so many Water connects us all and therefore it is in all of our interests to protect it.
Song: I have uploaded two songs to my MySpace page for this Blog: There’s Only One River, Only One Sea was recorded with my kids twenty years ago! The message remains today. The second song is The Rainbow Road – I wrote this song for a music tour that I organized – it traveled across Canada and the US for five years visiting hundreds of elementary schools. The message was one of collaboration, of working together to heal the wounds that have been inflicted on all life. That spirit is needed today and always; we cannot face the up-coming challenges alone, we must work together and help each other.
Story: Since the rainbow is such a beautiful manifestation of water, I have chosen the Legend of the Rainbow Warrior, which is one of my favorite legends.
On this eve of the Winter Solstice here in the northern hemisphere, the light will begin to return and with it, I hope, the wisdom and clarity that we need in this world, as we move forward.
I would like to thank my followers – I hope that these pages bring you some useful ideas. Thank you also for your comments, which are greatly appreciated.
In gratitude for life and for water!
In gratitude for life and for water!
Photo of the River Brahmaputra in Assam by Deepraj (From Wikimedia)