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Clean Water for Healthy Animals
Planet Earth, home to the most unique natural chemical composition found in the universe, water. It is the only life-sustaining compound to exist naturally in liquid, solid, and gaseous forms, with each variation essential for life.
Living in Liquid
Water covers more than 70 percent of the Earth. However, for all we understand about the chemical makeup of water there is so much that remains unknown. In recorded history, it is estimated humans have only explored 5 percent of the oceans. Although much of the ocean remains a mystery, the impact of our industrialization is evident throughout marine life. From 2001 to 2011 the United States, Canada, and Russia combined, have spilled about 1,749,510,502 gallons (6,622,617,698 liters) of oil, compromising all water resources.
Sea turtles and salmon live in different kinds of water environments. Yet, with their differences they share similar complications from our quest for energy. Oil spills affect the sea turtles' ability to breed, eat, and breathe. Exposure to an oil slick usually results in organ failure, declining birth rates, and increased mortality. Turtles lay porous eggs in the sand. If oil covers the eggs, it seeps into the pores causing most to die. The few hatchlings that survive experience medical complications from prolonged exposure and die before breeding.
Canada's Athabasca River is a popular tourist and family destination for water activities and fishing. Dr. George Dixon, a research scientist and professor of biology, provided testimony to Environment Canada that the Athabasca River is receiving seepage from Tar Sands tailing ponds at a rate of 17.7 gallons (67 liters) per second. His calculations expect the seepage to compound on itself exponentially with further Tar Sands pipeline expansions. Salmon found swimming in the contaminated river show increased levels of toxicity in their systems, elevated mortality rates, reduced birthing cycles, and amplified genetic mutations. Dr. David Schindler, a highly decorated scientist and professor of ecology, presented the panel members of Environment Canada with evidence of rapidly declining fish populations and accelerated mutations outside tailing ponds hot zones. Besides the salmon plight, medical researchers have noticed expansive human populations developing unknown forms of cancer that do not respond to standard treatments. Environment Canada has ignored all professional findings and tried to bury the information while discrediting scientific conclusions.
Life on Ice Formations
Polar bears rely on solid ice formations to hunt, breed, and den. They are primarily found in Canada, Alaska, and Russia with a smaller population in Norway. In 2008, the polar bear was added to the list of animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. It is the first animal added as a direct result of planetary warming. Polar bear populations act as nature's gauge to climate stability. Each year these animals are squeezed out of existence from rapid loss of their habitat. Approximately 921,575 square miles (2,390,899 square kilometers) of ice mass has been lost and is unable to reform for lack of appropriate climate conditions. To better paint a picture, this would be equal to the states of Alaska, Texas, and Washington falling away never to return.
Saltwater does not freeze in the same manner as freshwater. It takes much cooler temperatures for longer periods to freeze. Unlike freshwater adhesion, when saltwater freezes it becomes denser and breaks away, further slowing the freezing process. The primary culprit to ice mass loss is the aggressive extraction of fossil fuels. The retrieval, refinement, and use of fossil fuels emit high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere acting like an added blanket of insulation. In March 2012, Dr. James Hansen's research equated the energy output trapped by the CO2 blanket equivalent to 400,000 atomic bombs detonating everyday, year round. Since this heat cannot escape Earth's atmosphere it remains trapped and unnaturally superheats the planet.
Water in its gaseous form creates vapor, which is a critical function for all plant and animal life. Vapor comes back to the Earth's surface as rain, hail, snow, fog, and dew, and is a particularly vital function to sustain human life. Where many marine animals can live in seawater people need freshwater to survive. Less than one percent of the Earth's water supply is safe for human consumption. With 7 billion people on the planet, vapor is a critical step in replenishing this small quantity of viable water. Unfortunately, the refining and use of fossil fuels creates a condition known as acid rain. Water vapor incorporates sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide released from burning fossil fuels into its molecule structure changing the global composition of freshwater. It is possible for people to survive about a month without any food while people will feel the effects of dehydration inside a week. About two thirds of a person's body weight consists of water. Without water, our bodies stop processing food and our respiratory and circulatory systems seize.
Each year on March 22 is World Water Day. The United Nations introduced this awareness day in 1993 to educate the world on the importance of water conditions necessary to support plants, animals, and humans. In 2012, the focus is on food security and water in agriculture. The timing of the topic is ideal as the United States intends to make the construction of the Keystone XL scheme a frontrunner political issue for reelection. Should the Keystone XL scheme pass it would run through the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest aquifers on the planet. It provides America with 30 percent of its farmland irrigation and is the main source for drinking water to 82 percent of the population within the aquifer boundaries of Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Change is an inevitable occurrence in life. Excessive use of fossil fuels does not produce long-term solutions for human energy needs. It damages the ecological stability necessary to support all forms of life and should not be utilized as a primary energy resource when there are effective, safe alternatives.
For those interested, sign the Stabilize Water Resources for Animal Life Initiative.
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