Famine, Water - from Syria to Jordan


It's sobering to realise that in the 1840's it was weather like we've had this past summer that paved the way for the Great Famine, as a result of which almost half of the 8 million people of this country either died or emigrated. Bad weather, causing crop failure and then hunger, drove many of our forebears to become refugees, mostly in either England or the United States. That historical memory still lives on in our consciousness. The trauma was so great.

Weather related situations are still causing massive global problems, including the displacement of populations, in this twenty-first century. A World Water Week Conference in August stated that 97% of the Earth's supply of water is salt water, and of the remaining 3%, some 70% of it is frozen in the polar ice caps. Just 1% of the rest is readily available for human consumption.

But how do we in Ireland use that 1% of available water? Not very wisely. Nearly half of our available water is wasted in leaks and bad infrastructure. Along with other Western countries, a child born here uses 30 to 50 times more water than one in the developing world, and a shocking one-third of food and water in our developed world is thrown out as waste!

At the moment, war weary Syrians are pouring into Jordan, the fourth "most water scarce country" in the world, and the influx of people is putting a strain on an already extremely limited water supply. Yet Jordan is doing its best.

So when we experience exceptionally bad weather here, as well as lamenting our lot let's spare a few thoughts for our sisters and brothers having to flee homes and lands either because of devastating floods, as in parts of Asia, or equally devastating droughts, as in parts of Africa. Perhaps we can extend hospitality, as Jordan has done to Syrians, or we can certainly look to see how our lifestyles are impacting on fragile ecosystems elsewhere. Either way, we are going to be increasingly called upon to act so as to take better care of our endangered global family. The Earth is everyone's home to cherish, not to destroy, a place to share, not to grab for ourselves.

Lord make me an instrument of your Peace

Facts sourced in Irish Times, various dates, 2012.  -  Carol Dorgan