The Water Book

I am iyakin. I easily cry over movies, songs, even soap commercials. I cry over books. So imagine how emotional I was upon entering the World Trade Center during the Big Bad Wolf – the biggest book sale event in the country.

I had a plan – just stick to the nonfiction section and stick to your budget (P1,500). I failed at one and you guessed right which one I failed to stick to.

I was able to buy six books, all in hard cover, for a total of P1,720. Not bad.

I then decided to start with The Water Book by Alok Jha. Jha is a science correspondent based in London and has worked for BBC and the Guardian. He was named European Science Writer of the Year in 2008.

For this book, Jha joined a team of scientists for a voyage to the remotest continent on Earth –Antarctica. Honestly, I have learned more about water in the one week that I read this book than in all my years of existence. Yet as Jha puts it, “We know more about space than we do about the furthest reaches of the oceans because, despite the difficulty and expense of escaping the atmosphere, it is actually easier and less dangerous than dealing with the crushing pressures of the deep sea.”

This wasn’t an easy read. Beginning with a narrative of the origin of water to how it behaves to the Big Bang Theory to how life was born from this substance, this is a book that has to be digested again and again to be fully appreciated. On the other hand, the sobriety by which he calls for introspection on how our actions are affecting Mother Earth is commendable. I say sobriety because we have all these groups who constantly paint a fatalistic scenario when discussing environmental degradation and the like.

“Over time, because of the action of sunlight, [plastic] will start to fall apart and eventually break down into tiny particles no bigger than the millimeter-sized plankton. Plastic like this can travel for years along ocean currents, ending up thousands of miles from its initial source. A lot of the plastic used in our goods today could end up like this, floating for thousands of years in the surface of the world’s oceans.”

This passage has been nagging at me and has caused me to start mapping out a plan of reducing waste in our household because even with the ban of plastics in the City of Baguio, these have been replaced just the same by biodegradable (air quotes) plastics. I am also seriously looking for ways to decrease my water footprint (think carbon footprint). I will later on share in this space my progress.

“All of the effects we have on the water on our planet will be ephemeral. These molecules were there to help create the Earth and the life on it, and we have built our worlds around it. We should rightly worry about how we are changing the natural balance of its forms on our planet because the ratios of solid, liquid and gaseous water fundamentally affects our lives and those of everything else that lives now and that will live in the future,” Jha wrote.

We can’t plant a tree, switch our lights off during Earth Hour and call ourselves environmentalists. I believe we still have a long way to go in educating ourselves on the environment. However, we really need to start somewhere fast. Because if we remain indifferent and ignorant, ano na lang later? Iyak.

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