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By May Boeve
This Saturday (May 5), at events around the world, people will Connect the Dots between extreme weather and climate change. It's going to be an amazing day—and the theme that will tie it all together is the dots.
Here's the deal: At each event, people will take a photo of their "climate dot" which they'll make out of fabric or cardboard or anything else. Each of these dots will represent how climate change is already hitting home in our local communities. Some of them will have a climate message on them, some of them will have a symbol of local extreme weather, and some will just be a big, plain dot.
We put together a full tip-sheet on how to make a great photo here, and to the right is an example of a great, simple climate dot photo that just came in from our friends in Vermont, recently devastated by the flooding of the Mad River.
As soon as the local events are finished, we're asking everyone around the world to upload their photos to us—our 350 team will make a global photo mosaic that connects all those dots. To make sure our message reaches "outside of the choir," we'll deliver those photos to global media and decision-makers—the people who most urgently need to connect the dots.
Here in New York, our 350 crew had a lot of fun making our climate dot (you can see photos here)—and we learned a lot while we were doing it. Here are the basic steps to make your dot:
1. Cut out a dot. We used a parachute for our dot, so we didn’t have to cut it, but most fabric stores will help cut out the dot. Or cut a giant dot from a thrift-store bed sheet, a big piece of cardboard, or anything else that works for you. Or, if you don't feel like cutting something out, just draw a big dot on a sign.
2. Put a message on it. Will your dot be in a place that’s self explanatory? Will the climate impact be clear? If not, write the name of the city and your climate message on the dot. For example, we wrote “NYC Underwater” on our dot. You can also just put one of the "climate impact symbols" on your climate dot—you can download and print those symbols right here.
3. Make sure you have a team set up to hold it up. Sometimes an overhead angle on your dot makes a dramatic visual. Wondering about having a lot of people in the shot? Great if you have them, but no worries if you don’t.
4. Scout your location and take a photo. Take some photos and figure out where the dot will look best. Ideally, the dot will be front and center, and the background will show how climate change is impacting your community.
5. Send it in. Send your single best photo to email@example.com. Put the location as the email subject line, and include the story behind the photo in the body of the email. You can find full photo upload-instructions here.
Things are getting a bit hectic as we gear up for 5/5, and it's all starting to come together. I truly can't wait to see your climate dots this weekend—to see, once again, what this movement is capable of when we act together.
Most of all, we need you out in your community on May 5, but the action isn't all offline—we also need a crew of online activists who can spread the word and Connect the Dots using social media. We're gathering a #ConnectTheDots Social Media Team to share key photos, facts and videos from our day of action. Click here to join the team.
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Will Sarni
It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.
The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future
We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.
"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.
One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.
Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.
Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.
These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.
We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).
We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.
We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.
Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.
Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
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