Who Owns the Rain?


I love the imagery the author of this title conveys in his recent Circle of Blue article (which can be accessed from the this post or regularly on this blog). Don’t let the title mislead you. After reading his article, the title will take on its intended somber reality.

The author, James Workman is an

“acclaimed water expert and author. His book, Heart of Dryness and this article, detail the legal battle between Botswana’s Bushmen and Botswana’s national government.”

Seeing the photos from the article reminded me that as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, living and working in the bush was always fascinating – though rarely easy. The opening sentence of Workman’s article quickly puts living/surviving in the bush in perspective.

For 30,000 years Bushmen have lived in the Kalahari Desert and for eight years Botswana has tried to force them out. Recently, under a quiet policy of forced dehydration, the government declared Bushmen could no longer dig for or carry their own water.”

Workman is from California – a state that has its own very controversial history and dependency on freshwater. In an much earlier blog, I shared details from and recommended reading Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner. I recommend its reading again.

My blog and website are devoted to simplifying the complexities of desertification and groundwater. These will be very important “next frontiers”. Although modern humans have only been actively transforming our planet for the past 12,000 years, the impact of our footprint has been dramatic. There have been some very important discoveries, yet, the jury is inconclusive on deciding whether the consequences of our damage and waste may be irreversible.

It’s also possible that humanity could end even more abruptly with the unfortunate encounter with an asteroid – like the one that led to the mass extinction of the dinosaur. That event would end the need to worry about changing our lifestyles and everything else!

Workman concludes his article Who Owns the Rain—When Thirsty Democracies Deny Individual Liberty to Water with this perspective.

“Right now a third of the world lives in water stressed countries, so these thirsty democracies face a reckoning. As water supplies vanish under rising heat and growth, voters will have to decide who controls the water that unites us – who owns the rain?”


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