14 August 2022

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water (W.H. Auden)

Did you know, that there is more water in the clouds and vapour above us than in all the rivers and oceans on our planet at any given time? If only it would rain. I lived in Ireland for many years and took rain for granted. I watched the film mentioned above here last night, an inspiration.

Because nutrients cycle through the ocean (the process of organisms eating organisms is the cycling of nutrients through the ocean), the atoms of those people who were thrown overboard are out there in the ocean even today. They were eaten, organisms processed them, and those organisms were in turn eaten and processed, and the cycle continues. Around 90 to 95 percent of the tissues of things that are eaten in the water column get recycled.

The sodium of human blood . . . (has) a residence time (the amount of time it takes for a substance to enter the ocean and then leave the ocean) of 260 million years.

Daisy Hildyard (from an essay found here

About thirty years ago, a friend was lost at sea. To be correct, a possible friend was lost at sea. When this happened, we were still at the greeting and recognition state that is common when non-African (white) people meet in the tiny African island paradise we were living at the time. It was only a few weeks or maybe a month since he had arrived with his family, just as we did a few years earlier.

We were in the early stage of getting ready to leave for India, packing and selling stuff, when we got the news. It was evening, we were sharing a dinner with a group of friends when someone mentioned that the boat he had hired had not come in before sunset. What followed were harrowing days and evenings taking turns sitting with the family, making tea, cooking dinners nobody ate, distracting children with endless games of volleyball underneath the jacaranda trees.

It was months later when a merchant vessel picked up the empty boat a very long way north, past the Arabian Sea and the Horn of Africa. I often think of him, out there under the sun in a small boat on the vast Indian Ocean. How happy he was that day we spoke on the most beautiful beach, watching our kids diving in the surf. And I assured him that they all would just love their time here, that the three years of his contract would just fly, that he should cherish every day and so on. I meant it.

And I think of the over 3,000 migrants that died at sea on their way to Europe last year, the 17,000 who lost their lives in the Mediterranean since 2014.

Meanwhile, our rivers are drying out. The glaciers in the Alps are melting at a rate nobody seemed to think possible quite yet. I cycle along my river at around sunset when the temperature has dropped to 30C (85 F). There are still some barges going and ferries but only just and the trees are rapidly dropping their shriveled leaves.

Today, as last week, R joined in a human chain of 35 people collecting 1000 liters of river water in buckets to water the trees in a local park

 The covid patch in the garden looks miserable. But deep underneath the brittle and dry stalks, there is wild thyme and oregano, some small clover and plenty of other greens coming up. I imagine it only needs a bit of rain to see more growth.

And almost a month earlier than usual, we harvested the grapes. According to R's measurements with his hydrometer gadget, they could have stayed on a tiny bit longer for more sweetness but it was us vs. wasps. I fought their corner for about two days.





Steve Reed said...

I've heard about wasps ravaging grape vines, and they definitely seem to be tucking in. Poor things probably need moisture! (Not that this is any consolation for you.)

I too always took rain for granted, certainly here in the UK. This year has been an eye-opener. There's a real sense of inner desperation that sets in when it's dry for a long time, probably something encoded in the genes of those of us accustomed to milder climates.

Ms. Moon said...

I agree with Steve. The very first blog post I ever wrote was about the drought we were having in north Florida and how very strange it made me feel. I guess the desperation Steve speaks of. We have had some very good rains this year here and they are such a comfort. I walked outside a few days ago right as it was beginning to pour down and the smell of it almost knocked me out with its power. The way the dirt seems to release a fragrance of gratefulness that carries the very elements of its make-up. Oh, how I love that!

NewRobin13 said...

Oh how I weep for our planet, our one and only beautiful earth. How can we be so thoughtless? I wish humans would wake up to what we are doing, but I fear we never will and it's getting to be too late. I weep.

am said...

Much sobering information in your post, side by side with R and 35 other people doing what they can.

Here in the coastal Pacific Northwest our evergreen trees are showing signs of acute distress for lack of the traditional rainfall.

In my neighborhood, the beavers blocked the culvert for the cattail pond I see from my condominium. They are doing their best to raise the level of the pond. The pond's water comes from springs in the hillside that are drying up.

With mention of rivers and dams in the video, I thought you might like to see that a dam was removed from the White Salmon River here in Washington State.


Pixie said...

We are killing ourselves, aren't we?

ellen abbott said...

Interesting statistics on the oceans and 'nutrients'. Never considered my body a nutrient before but of course it is. You'd think if the glaciers are melting, waterways wouldn't be drying up so I guess the glaciers are just evaporating. As humid as it is here I can believe there's more water in the atmosphere than on the ground. I jokingly tell people I live 'in' the gulf on the coast. I read that NASA has found an ocean of water floating in space. Don't know how true that is. Our own annual rainfall for this little town is 47" a year. So far this year we've only had 10.5". Corn crop was maybe a third of usual and the cotton is dying in the fields.

Roderick Robinson said...

Our A/C unit, bought more than ten years ago and then left - unloved and unused - in the corner of the dining room was the regular butt of jokes by the rare visitors we entertain these days. "You bought that! And you live in England? What expectations did you have?"

Elder daughter is presently staying and has a scientific background. The A/C hummed away as we discussed A/C technology and its molecular implications. Notably the chemical behaviour of that most magical and unpredictable substance known as water. Quite quite strange. No doubt you regard my wife and I as wastrels but we are octogenarian wastrels and that makes difference. We live only in the present, independent of the past and the future. Comfort, seen as an indulgence by others, sustains our brief expectations, allowing me at least a balanced state wherein I can assemble what little I know about science and talk about it with someone who knows rather more. Between us my daughter and I reached a point - a decimal point to be pleasingly exact - when we contemplated a concept involving a minus superscript followed by 125 places. Oh, the largeness of the atom.

Sabine said...

We are considering a/c as a future option but as all electrical gadgets in our house especially in summer it will run on solar energy provided by the PV panels on our roof. I think that's cool.

Roderick Robinson said...

Quite cool indeed. We've had solar panels on our roof for eleven years and (theoretically) have just paid off their original cost. Have you blogged about them before? I'd be interested to know how you store electricity so that there's juice to drive the gadgets when light levels are low (eg, at night)

Barbara Rogers said...

Those many deaths at sea make me sad in a different way to the plants and rivers' dying from drought. I'll check out that movie! I sure hope there's relief from droughts soon. As well as lower daily temperatures...I loved reading all these comments too!

Sabine said...

We installed one of these gadgets here: https://bydbatterybox.com/
About the size of a washing machine, almost soundless. We got shitloads of funding from our local government for it. There are supply shortages, we waited for a few weeks.

My life so far said...

Sabine, I never imagined you using the phrase shitloads. You are my people 😊

Joared said...

No, I hadn't realized all that water was above us. The movie looks quite interesting. Interesting to think of the transformation of life's energy though tragic is the death you describe.

Many of us have so taken water for granted, ignored the warnings decades ago of the coming shortages and only in most recent years as we experience the beginning reality is attention paid. In my youthful years where I lived we had creeks we thought of as small bodies of water compared to rivers. Later, moving to other parts of our country I discovered our creeks were larger than their rivers. Now, here in western U.S. we see how our rivers, long since dammed, lakes, reservoirs are all diminished with no promise of replenishment. So much life beyond that of human adversely affected.

I wonder what more danger we put our oceans in and the life there if we seek to use their water even more to compensate for what we're losing now?

Anonymous said...

The story of your friend being lost at sea haunts me. I kept waiting to hear that he made it home but he didn’t. His poor family. Our poor earth.