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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Letter from Publisher

For years, scientists and climatologists have been warning that the world will face severe water shortages resulting from a combination of climate change and the irresponsible overuse of precious water. Examples include the shrinking Aral Sea in Central Asia, disappearing Lake Chad in Africa and the completely vanished Lake Poopo in Bolivia. Many scientists expected the latter to last for at least another thousand years.

Despite the dire warnings and disturbing photos of empty lakes and dry, cracked earth, many act as if the demise is still centuries away. It’s hard to imagine such scenarios, but “Day Zero” has arrived. Facing its worst drought in over a century, the city of Cape Town, South Africa, will shut off its water taps sometime this summer or sooner. The city’s reservoirs are nearly dry, and the residents will have no access to running water until it rains again.

Here at home, despite the good intentions of aware and responsible citizens doing their best to reduce their individual carbon footprints, too many bad corporate citizens place profit over protecting our precious water, air, land and life. Unfortunately, these corporations face few ramifications when they’re caught violating environmental protections laws. Additionally, such laws are being weakened drastically on both state and federal levels.

Last April, a steel plant in Indiana spilled a plume of hexavalent chromium—a toxic metal—into a Lake Michigan tributary, forcing the community of Ogden Dunes, Indiana, to shut off its drinking water intake and close four beaches. Here in Wisconsin, residents of Kewaunee County, which has the highest concentration of large-scale farms in the state, have reported murky brown water streaming from their taps. In June 2017, researchers informed more than 200 residents that up to 60 percent of sampled wells in the county contained fecal microbes that were capable of making people and livestock sick.

The worst offenders in both water usage and contamination of natural water sources are the mining industries and the big agricultural businesses growing grain crops, such as corn and soybeans. These conventionally grown (nonorganic) subsidized crops are used mostly to feed cattle, chickens, pigs, and farmed fish, but also as additives in the processed foods that line our supermarket aisles. Cotton also hogs and pollutes water. According to the World Wildlife Organization, growing the cotton for a single shirt can require up to 700 gallons of water, enough for one person to drink for 900 days.

While Wisconsin faces such serious environmental perils, new legislative measures aim to eliminate decades of environmental protections. Individual citizens have the power to accomplish more than recycling, shopping locally and reducing our automobile emissions: we can vote. During this election year, it is more critical than ever to examine each political candidate’s stance and voting record related to protecting our air, water and land.

We’ve only got one Earth, and it should not be up for sale to the highest bidder. It’s ours, so let’s reclaim it.

Here’s to making a world of difference together,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher