- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Partnership Model
- Focus Areas
- Campaigns and Actions
- Public Policy
- UU College of Social Justice
- What You Can Do
- Ways to Give
- Get Involved
- Enlist Your Congregation
- Read Our Blog
- Shop in Our Store
- Media Center
- Volunteer Network Resources
- Campaign Resources
- Multimedia Resources
- Congregational Resources
World Environment Day: Water and Climate Change
The United Nations Enviornment Program (UNEP) released a new report to honor World Environment Day on June 5, about the impact of climate change on ice and snow and what that means for our everyday life.
What does melting ice have to do with water? How about in China, where "highland glaciers are shrinking each year by an amount equivalent to all the water in the Yellow River. The Chinese Academy of Sciences says that 7 percent of the country’s glaciers are vanishing annually. By 2050, as many as 64 percent of China’s glaciers will have disappeared. An estimated 300 million people live in China’s arid west and depend on water from glaciers for their survival."
The reports released early in the spring on climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), especially the 2nd Report Policy Summary (the full report will be published later this year) on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability confirms what we know -- that the poor are the least able to "adapt" and the most likely to be affected.
In Africa, "by 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change. If coupled with increased demand, this will adversely affect livelihoods and exacerbate water-related problems."
The IPPC has released a draft of its technical study on water and climate change to governments for comment. It is due out to the public in December. In North America, "warming in western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources."
Water for fisheries and agriculture -- which poor people depend upon for survival -- will also be highly compromised. In the face of what we know will be increased competition for this vital and scarce resource, making sure the human right to water is fully implemented is even more important.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights will report to the U.N. Human Rights Council this September on its study into the right to water. If the "debate" about whether there is a right to water or not -- and what it is -- comes out in favor of a strong right, the implementation will be the next hurdle.
This year, UUSC program partner Mass Global Action is gearing up a campaign for a human right to water in the greater Metro Boston area. In the face of what can be overwhelming statistics and incomprehensible impending disaster, groups are taking up the challenge to make something real happen.