NASA’s Global Freshwater ‘Selfie’ Catches Us in the Act of Over-Depletion


Image: NASA, based on study by Matthew Rodell, et al, 2018

U.S. space agency NASA’s new analysis of 14 years of satellite data shows rapid change in the world’s freshwater supply in startling detail never captured before. The 34 “trends” in the data picture not only the effects of climate change, like worsening droughts, but of human over-use, such as pumping out underground aquifers to irrigate crops. To a lesser extent, they show natural change over time. They also  indicate where water scarcity is most likely to reach crisis mode and lead to armed conflict over resources and/or forced human migration.

“There are implications in that map for food security, for water security and for human security in terms of things like conflict and climate refugees,” said Dr. Jay Famiglietti, a water-resources expert affiliated with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of a paper on the findings in the journal Nature. He and other experts said the mapping should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers.

Read more:

NASA Satellites Reveal Major Shifts in Global Freshwater — NASA

Emerging Trends in Global Freshwater Availability — Nature

This Is an Eye-Opener’: Changes in Global Water Supply Hint at Future Conflicts and Crises — The Globe and Mail

Water Shortages to Be Key Environmental Challenge of the Century, NASA Warns — The Guardian

NASA Finds ‘Human Fingerprint’ in Many Areas of Water-Supply Change Worldwide — USA Today

First Map of Global Freshwater Trends Show Human Fingerprint — Axios

Related posts:

California Drought: Overcoming History to Reduce SoCal Water Waste

Study Finds We Vastly Underestimate Water Management’ s Depletion of Groundwater

It’s Long Past Time to Police Big Agriculture’s Water Waste

World Water Day: UN World Water Development Report Warns of Global Crisis by 2030

At the Point of ‘Peak Water,’ Our Foreseeable Future Grows Shorter

Mapping the World’s Most Water-Stressed Countries

Serious Water Conservation Demands Layered Approach and Emotional Commitment

Study: Freshwater Shortage Will Double Climate Change’s Impact on Agriculture

Unchecked Emissions Will Drain Water Resources, Warns Leaked U.N. Report

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Filed under Climate Change, Conflicts, Drought, Environment, Global, Groundwater, Rivers and Watersheds, Science, Sustainability, Water Resources, Water Shortage

The Strange Question of ‘Legal’ or ‘Illegal’ Nuclear Strikes

nuke-005-680x365_cOver the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, in the absence of other stimulation, media in the U.S. has obsessed over whether President Donald Trump will lob a nuclear warhead eastward. Constantly mentioned but not defined is the idea of whether such a strike would be “legal.” How odd.

I guess there’s a reason the media’s question of a nuclear strike’s legality is left vague. What does that mean? In many broadcast interviews the question was not even asked. Why? It’s too tough a question to answer in 15 seconds. And there is no answer, perhaps. How can widespread annihilation be legal? One answer: Because “war” can be made legal.

In a cruel world where our attempts to maintain rule of law and therefore peace are constantly thwarted, the definition of an “illegal” nuke strike appears to have only to do with whether the decision to use it impinges upon the human rights of potential victims. As if war itself does not destroy human rights. It always does. The weapons are beside the point, though their magnitude is hard to ignore.

There is a question in law about whether weapons are necessary because war is at hand because it has been legally declared. Just to make the obvious point, it should never be at hand because it destroys all. War should be illegal. But the collective decision to make it so does not reflect our current reality.

Clearly — as if clarity is even possible given the sad state of human communication in which assumptions rule unfairly — international law has not advanced as far as it thinks it has toward properly defining what “human rights” are and what “war” is. U.S. media’s ridiculously vague discussions of illegal use of nukes show it in comic relief, or at least display the horrific gap between such mouthpieces’ version of reality and the tremendous efforts of people around the world to make a difference.

As someone who has worked for a UN-affiliated agency in Geneva, Switzerland, dedicated to better-establishing human rights in the context of law and policy, I remain frustrated that we’re not getting any closer to a “Star Trek” ideal of a unified humanity that can get over our differences and save each other and our planet from our abuse — as well as get off this pretty rock if necessary.

We’re not going to get there if we’re not together, able to agree on terms. That means communicating effectively and, frankly, loving each other. Our capacity for that is supposed to be our best quality, after all. I wish to think positively, but we’re going the wrong way. And so there is work to be done and hope to be nurtured. So keep working and keep hoping.

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Filed under Conflicts, Extinction, Politics, United Nations

How Climate Change Turns Up the Flames of Fire Season

Image result for wildfire

Image: Kent Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The wildfires raging in Northern California, which have so far torched more than 270 square miles, killed 40 people, forced thousands to flee, destroyed about 5,700 structures and spread smoke to communities for hundreds of miles around, are a burning sign of things to come.

Here in Oakland, Calif., where I’m currently working, about 50 miles south of most of the fires, I do my errands and even sit around the not-exactly-airtight apartment wearing an N95-rated respirator mask. Stores can’t keep them on the shelves. Oakland is said to have the country’s worst air this week — second only to the city of Napa and on par with a bad day in Beijing, China (as I write this,  Oaktown’s air quality index, or AQI, is 172, rated “unhealthy” by the EPA; another source, more frequently updated, is The whole San Francisco Bay Area smells like a campfire, and not in a good way.

Many experts agree that climate change has been worsening wildfires in the western U.S. and elsewhere for years by making winters shorter and wetter and the following fire season longer and drier. Climate change also kicks up higher winds and sparks more frequent lightning. And the fires’ carbon emissions exacerbate climate change, which causes more fires, which increases climate change, and so on. It’s a deadly feedback loop. California’s historic drought capped by a soaking-wet last winter and then a hot, dry summer makes these fires a terrible case in point.

For a list of ways to help those in need, click here.

Read more:

Here’s What We Know About Wildfires and Climate Change — Scientific American (reprinted from ClimateWire)

How Climate Change Is ‘Turning Up the Dail’ on California Wildfires — CBS News

Did Climate Change Fuel California’s Devastating Fires? Probably. — MIT Technology Review

The Climate Change Fire Alarm From Northern California — Los Angeles Times

Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks? — Union of Concerned Scientists

Briefing: Deadly Sonoma Fire Now Partially Contained; Oakland’s Air Quality Is 2nd Worst in Nation After Napa — East Bay Express

Climate Change Indicators: Wildfires — EPA (Hey, is that a reference to climate change on a federal government website? It’s like seeing a unicorn.)

Related posts:

California Drought: Overcoming History to Reduce SoCal Water Waste

Past, Present and Future: California’s Epic Struggle With Water

Civilization Lost: California’s 500-Year Drought Potential

A Grim Climate Change Forecast for the U.S.

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Filed under Climate Change, Drought, Natural Disasters, North America

From the DNC: A Call for Climate Action


Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Environmentalists are heartened to hear prominent Democrats — Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), among others — calling for urgent climate action at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) taking place in Philadelphia. California Gov. Jerry Brown devoted his whole speech to tearing down climate denial. That’s a stark contrast with the recent Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, where the subject was largely ignored. After all, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Brown’s main target, has called climate change a “hoax,” conjuring a picture of thousands of climate scientists all over the world having quite a laugh.

The party platform documents make the contrast more clear. “Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time,” the Democrats say, pledging an array of actions in support of the The Paris Agreement, moving to clean energy sources and creating jobs in the process. The Republicans reject the agendas of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, demand a halt to U.S. funding of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and vow to defeat President Barak Obama in his “war on coal” through the Clean Power Plan.

Key points summarized in the Dems’ platform:

Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge; creating millions of good-paying middle class jobs; reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050; and meeting the pledge President Obama put forward in the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century. We will take bold steps to slash carbon pollution and protect clean air at home, lead the fight against climate change around the world, ensure no Americans are left out or left behind as we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and be responsible stewards of our natural resources and our public lands and waters. Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs. We can and we will do both.

Read more:

2016 Democratic Party Platform (pages 27-29)

2016 Republican Party Platform (pages 20-22)

Democrats call for immediate action on climate change – Engadget

How the Democratic and Republican party platforms stack up on climate change, Iran and more key issuesLos Angeles Times

Party platforms clash on climate change – courier-journal

Finally, the climate teardown of Trump you’ve been waiting for – Grist

Related posts:

Dubious: The Donald’s Claims About the Calif. Drought

World Water Day: UN World Water Development Report Warns of Global Crisis by 2030

Study: Freshwater Shortage Will Double Climate Change’s Impact on Agriculture

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Filed under Climate Change, North America, Politics, United Nations

Dubious: The Donald’s Claims About the Calif. Drought


Photo by Gage Skimore, via Wiki Commons

Trump’s Dubious Drought Claims

The candidate said California has “no drought” and that water farmers need is being used to protect a “three-inch fish”  

At a recent campaign rally in Fresno, “Trump suggested ‘there is no drought’ in California because the state has ‘plenty of water.’ But California is in its fifth year of a severe ‘hot’ drought, the kind that’s expected to become more frequent with global warming. He also said water is being shoved ‘out to sea’ to protect a ‘three-inch fish’ at the expense of farmers. But officials release fresh water from reservoirs primarily to prevent salt water from contaminating agricultural and urban water supplies.”

– Vanessa Schipani, via Scientific American. Read the whole article.

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Filed under Drought, North America, Politics, Water Resources

Farewell, Dear Man: William D. Snow, April 12, 1940 – May 14, 2016

Bill Snow at home in Manchester, Conn., on Christmas day, 2015.

Bill Snow at home in Manchester, Conn., on Christmas day, 2015.

William D. Snow (Bill), beloved husband of Susan A. (Sessions) Snow, of Manchester, Conn., and father to three sons and two step-daughters, passed away at age 76 on Saturday evening, May 14, after a tenacious and lengthy fight with pancreatic cancer. Nine family members stood by his bedside.

Bill’s positive outlook on life served him and his loved ones well, even on the last day of his life, when he took on the rigors of physical therapy after a long hospital stay, spent some time with his partner of nearly 40 years, Suzie, and his son, Dave (me), and chatted about politics and his much-loved Boston Red Sox.

As with any life, unwinding the man’s experiences involves reading many threads. Bill was born on April 12, 1940, in Boston, Mass., to mother Phyllis L. (Webb) Snow and father Virgil Snow. He had one brother, Richard, a decade his senior.

Bill grew up in Brookline, Mass., in Greater Boston. He described his early life as “uneventful,” but, from his earliest years, he remembered World War II, where rationing and shortages of goods were commonplace. “I almost never had ice cream as a little kid,” he said. But it wasn’t all grim. On the plus side, his “neighborhood in Brookline had lots of other little kids, so life could be fun, with lots of opportunities for play.”

The Snow family came through the Great Depression while Bill’s older brother, Dick, was a child. One of the jobs his dad had was unloading 50-pound bags of flour from train cars, often in the cold. At night, Bill remembered, Phyllis would have to bend Virgil’s clenched fingers straight. Later, when Bill was still just a little boy, Virgil was a foreman at a laundry, and later became an organizer at Salvation Army donation drives. Phyllis worked in the cafeteria at Dick’s high school, and later worked as a sales clerk at W.D. Paine’s stationery and toy store in Brookline, where Bill also worked for a time as a teenager.

One of Bill’s favorite childhood memories involved an act of profound generosity. When Bill was about 9 years old, he wanted to play baseball with the school team. His parents were poor and couldn’t afford a baseball glove. Dick had just finished high school and was working for a men’s clothing store in downtown Boston. With what little money he had, Dick bought Bill a glove. Bill wrote about this wonderful act of brotherly love for a booklet commemorating the 60th wedding anniversary of Dick and his wife, Marie (Lehane) Snow, of Orlando, Fla., in 2014.

Bill and Suzie Snow

Together for four decades: Bill and Suzie Snow, November 2015.

Bill graduated from Brookline High School in 1958. While there, he made good grades, played trombone in the school band and dated various young women during his junior and senior years. As a Massachusetts state officer in the Methodist Youth Fellowship, Bill gave serious consideration to going into the ministry, after ruling out attending Georgia Tech for financial reasons, though he had been accepted there to pursue an engineering degree. He decided on undergrad work at Boston University (BU), where he received financial aid and could reduce costs further as a commuting student. He planned to go to the BU school of theology after his undergrad work.

While studying psychology and philosophy at BU, his worldview began to change, as he met interesting academics and other people with differing viewpoints. He pledged Tau Kappa Epsilon because, at that time, it was the only fraternity at BU without a racial or religious requirement. There, he was happy to know people of various races and religions. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology – the first member of his family to earn a college diploma.

During his junior year at BU, Bill met Wanda Ellis Peters, of Ferrum, Va., at the college-age youth group at his Methodist church, St. Marks in Brookline. After a little more than a year they married at St. Marks. Bill worked with Vescony Co. of New York, which had a retail Vespa scooter shop in Allston, Mass. After managing that shop, Bill took a job managing a retail and rental facility in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He and Wanda moved there only weeks after getting married. On the island, they lived in a small apartment built into the side of a mountain overlooking the airport. His customers were an interesting assortment of people, including a local calypso singer who would perform for them in their home, and a motorcycle cop who twice needed a ride on Bill’s scooter back to his motorcycle after walking multiple arrestees to the police station.

Bill Snow, center, with family at Christmas dinner, Dec. 25, 2015.

Bill Snow, center, with family at Christmas dinner, Dec. 25, 2015. From left, Carol Marzilli, Brianna Lamson, Bill Snow, Suzie Snow, Jay Granato, Amy Granato.

Wanda returned to Boston in late spring 1963 to prepare for the birth of their first son, Scott Elliot Snow, due in July. He arrived early: June 15. Around this time, Virgil passed away during prostate surgery from a blood clot, and Bill returned to the Boston area. At about that time, his work varied: He became a manager-trainee for Friendly’s Ice Cream restaurants, tried his hand at selling life insurance for New York Life Insurance Co., and then entered the Prudential Life Insurance management development program, which led to long-term job as a claims investigator covering southern New England. He worked that job for many years.

The year 1965 proved to be a milestone in Bill’s life. In that year, his friend Tom Grey, of Boston, was killed in the Vietnam War at age 25. The two had been close friends years earlier in the Boy Scouts of America. They often camped together and talked under the stars about life and the future. In high school, Tom had been good enough to defer to Bill regarding a young woman they both adored. Because Bill had always considered Tom an intellectual, a peace-oriented philosopher, and, above all, a dear friend for life, Tom’s enlistment and subsequent death in Vietnam were especially traumatic.

Two more sons came after Scott: David William Snow, born March 24, 1967, and Steven Wayne Snow, born December 5, 1969. The couple bought a house in Newington, Conn., and later, in 1972, in West Hartford, Conn., where the three boys attended public schools. The couple separated in 1976, with a divorce to follow. Bill moved out of the house, but remained close with his children, seeing them often, and bringing another family into their lives.

Soon Bill began dating Suzie (Sessions) Lamson, who would prove to be the love of his life. Suzie had two daughters, Amy and Cheryl. In the following years, he lived with them in Manchester, Conn., where the Snow boys would often spend weekends, typically playing football games in the front yard and sharing a big spaghetti dinner on Sundays. Bill was a father to the five brothers and sisters. The two families coming together had “Brady Bunch” written all over it.

Bill and Suzie Snow at their wedding in 1993.

Bill and Suzie Snow at their wedding in 1993.

Bill’s gregarious charm served him well as a volunteer for PBS television station CPTV along with Suzie, starting in 1988 and ending in 2009. The two, who married in 1993 in a memorable “gangsters and molls” costumed theme celebration, were volunteer supervisors of the folks who took pledge calls at CPTV fundraising events. Among the pledge drive highlights, they met legendary WTIC sportscaster Arnold Dean and former UCONN men’s basketball head coach Jim Calhoun. Warned that Calhoun shied away from attention, Bill nonetheless persuaded him to sign UCONN hats worn by the fundraising team. Bill and Suzie also met famed UCONN women’s basketball coach Luigi “Geno” Auriemma and numerous players, including star center Rebecca Lobo of the 1995 championship team. In 1997, when she was playing professionally for the Springfield Spirit, she visited the pledge drive. When Bill asked her if she would call a local fan suffering a spinal disorder, Lobo asked for the phone number and called the fan. The conversation went on for 25 minutes.

In recent years, Bill and Suzie focused on enjoying life, spending time with friends and family, balancing work and leisure, and keeping active. They were enthusiastic subscribers to The Hartford Stage. Bill continued working at his sales job with hobby supply wholesaler Hobbytyme Distributors Inc. in East Hartford, Conn., through most of 2015. As part of his job, he produced and directed a couple of successful hobby shows, bringing customers together with suppliers.

Bill is survived by his wife, Suzie Snow, her daughter Amy Granato, her husband Jason and daughter Brianna; daughter Cheryl Cole and her husband Ronnie; son Scott, his wife Elise, and their children Miranda and Jared; son David and his wife Meg; son Steven and his wife Carol; sister-in-law Marie (Lehane) Snow and her sons David and Dennis Snow, and their children and grandchildren. Bill’s brother Dick, Marie’s husband, died of Alzheimer’s disease on Aug. 19, 2015, at age 84.

Calling hours for Bill Snow are scheduled to take place at Holmes Funeral Home, 400 Main St., Manchester, Conn., on Saturday, May 21, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a service of remembrance at 7:30 p.m. (860) 643-2441. Memorial contributions may be made to the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center of Hartford Hospital ( or to MDOG (Manchester Dog Owners Group), P.O. Box 1448, Manchester, CT 06045-1445. To leave an online condolence, please visit

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Filed under In Memoriam

Happy World Water Day 2016: Water and Jobs


Image courtesy of UN-Water

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 22, 2016 is this year’s World Water Day, the theme of which is water and jobs. The inter-agency group UN-Water sets the theme every year, this year in coordination with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other partners.

Here’s a short list of informative websites that can shed more light on the day, the theme, the celebrations and more:

UN-Water: World Water Day

Latest UN data on water and jobs

World Water Day: What’s it about?

Interactive World Water Day website

Official World Water Day 2016 Event in Geneva, Switzerland

Water Integrity Global Outlook 2016 (WIGO)

On Twitter: #WorldWaterDay

Related posts:

17 Sustainable Development Goals Adopted at the UN

World Water Day: UN World Water Development Report Warns of Global Crisis by 2030


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As Flint Lawsuits Pour in, Leaded Tap Water Found Far Afield

Flint River

Flint River in the 1970s. Image courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

I worked recently for a United Nations-affiliated international non-governmental organization in Geneva, Switzerland, named WaterLex. It specializes in finding sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide. Much of its work involves educating parliamentarians and others about the human rights to water and sanitation, established in 2010, and how they can be mixed into practices such as integrated water resources management.

In that context, I was accustomed to hearing about water crises in African and South American countries where municipalities often lacked adequate infrastructure for water provision. So I started to think I knew a thing or two about a government’s obligation to realize the human right to water for its population. Then, while I was still living in Switzerland, came news of Detroit, Mich., shutting off water to customers who hadn’t paid their bills. A similar situation came to light in Baltimore, Md. In those places, a cry rose up for aggressive action to uphold the human right to water, with a focus on the issue of affordability.

In the U.S., a country where infrastructure has been in place to provide freshwater to most homes in most municipalities for more than a century, invocation of the human right to water was a surprising and unsettling thing to hear.

But the water crisis in Flint, Mich., cranks up the volume to a whole new decibel level, and rightly so. The allegations are appalling: Officials knowingly allowed households in a city of 100,000 to drink, cook and bathe in water fouled by lead and other contaminants from lead pipes corroded by polluted Flint River water, following a money-saving switch to that water source from Lake Huron and the Detroit River. Documentary filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore, among others, is calling for criminal prosecution of Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder. With young children at risk of brain damage and other health problems, it’s not difficult to picture an approaching flood of lawsuits. Fixing Flint’s water is expected to take many years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Worse, too much lead in municipal water is not limited to Flint. News reports point out city after city in several states where aging infrastructure and improper maintenance have been creating similar problems.

Note to cities and towns: Before that water infrastructure gets to be about a century old, you have to increase the amounts of money and effort put into its upkeep or replacement. If not, you’re likely to soon be taking away your people’s human right to water, and that will always end up being a bigger bill to pay in the end. Oh, and … though it used to go without saying … don’t poison everyone.

Learn more:

Possible lead exposure-miscarriage link probed in Flint water crisis –

Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder proposed $360 million for Flint water fixChristian Science Monitor

Unsafe Lead Levels in Tap Water Not Limited to FlintThe New York Times

Amid Flint water crisis, the lawsuits are piling up – CBS/The Associated Press

How scientists failed the public in Flint water crisisLos Angeles Times

10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Crisis. But I Will. –

Flint Water Crisis – Wikipedia

Related posts:

Study Finds We Vastly Underestimate Water Management’s Depletion of Freshwater

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Filed under Human Right(s) to Water and Sanitation, Human rights, Law, NGOs, North America, Pollution, Rivers and Watersheds, Water Resources

California Drought: Overcoming History to Reduce SoCal Water Waste


The great news for California in the winter of 2015-2016 is that El Nino-generated storms are on the increase, right? Well , that’s good news for easing the California drought, but with caveats. It’s much greater news if even more rain (and snow) fall in Northern California than in Southern California. The north has more catchment systems than the south. In other words, the north catches, saves and provides more water than the south can.

Why? Northern areas have river systems and reservoirs that redirect water to the south (mainly) via aqueducts. Moisture falling in the south and running off land is more readily fed to the Pacific Ocean, because much of the system there, especially in Los Angeles itself, is allowed and even intended to drain into the Pacific to avoid catastrophic flooding and landslides, like those seen from major storms in the 1930s and later. In other words, the massive waste of freshwater was actually a safety measure. Law was adjusted by climate. Until recently, in fact, it was illegal to capture rain on your own roof in LA. The California Water Capture Act of 2012 eased that outdated policy.

And, fortunately, on Jan. 6 the California State Water Resources Control Board approved a broad plan to capture more rain, The Associated Press reported. About $200 million will fund projects to collect rain, as part of a $7.5 billion water bond voters approved in November 2014. Los Angeles expects to collect an additional 3.3 billion gallons a year from new projects, over the roughly 10 billion it says it collects now. But even that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what SoCal could do in wet years if rainwater collection were made a genuine priority.

Related posts:

Study Finds We Vastly Underestimate Water Management’ s Depletion of Groundwater

It’s Long Past Time to Police Big Agriculture’s Water Waste

Learn more:

Much of the torrential that fell on Southern California this week flowed right into the ocean – Associated Press

Rainwater harvesting regulations state by state – Enlight Inc. blog

Building Sponge City: Redesigning LA for Long-Term Drought – Cities Project, NPR

Report: Feeding Ourselves Thirsty: How the Food Sector Is Managing Global Water Risks – Ceres (full report)

The Untapped Potential of California’s Water SupplyPacific Institute and NRDC


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Filed under Climate Change, Conservation, Drought, Groundwater, Law, Natural Disasters, North America, Rivers and Watersheds, Sustainability, Water, Water Resources, Water Shortage

Finally Distinguished: The Human Right to Sanitation

As recognized by international law, the human right to an adequate standard of living contains quite a few components, each noted as distinct human rights. You have the rights to be healthy, obtain food and find shelter, for example. You also have the right to access clean drinking water and adequate sanitation, which are related to the human rights above, among others.

Since the UN adopted “the human right to water and sanitation” in 2010, the two things have been conflated as one right in various texts and references. For years, however, experts have been noting that the two, while obviously related, are separate and complex in their own rights, so to speak, and should be referred to as such.

Now, for the first time, the United Nations has clarified that the human rights to water and sanitation are two separate rights, each with their own characteristics.

Why is this an important distinction? As countries strive to meet obligations established in the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, their understanding of what it will take to improve sanitation and end open defecation will be crucial. So it’s important to emphasize sanitation, which doesn’t always involve water.

Read more:

UN recognises right to sanitation as a distinct human right –

Dispatches: UN resolution enshrines rights to clean drinking water, sanitation – Human Rights Watch

United Nations General Assembly affirms that water and sanitation are distinct rights and confirms a strong definition of these rights – Joint press release from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and WASH United

Related posts:

17 Sustainable Development Goals Adopted at the United Nations

World Water Day: UN World Water Development Report Warns of Global Crisis by 2030

If You Could Advise the UN on Water, What Would You Say?

Water’s Place Among Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

The Intersection of Environmental Issues and Human Rights

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Filed under Human Right(s) to Water and Sanitation, Human rights, Law, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), United Nations, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)