February 22, 2017 by vishfulthinking
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.
We look up to the cosmos in search of Earth-like planets with the extraordinary gifts of perfect geometry, precise temperature and the presence of the magical element we call water. At an intellectual level, we comprehend that water is an essential ingredient of that mysterious concoction that brews up our very existence. Then back home, in our planet, we look around to realize that by the year 2050 one in four people on our planet will suffer severe water shortages. A new wave of refugees who desperately travel across the globe to water-rich zones can get on the nerves of future ‘wall-building’ leaders of the free world.
An astounding 95% of global fresh water is underground, gushing from private pumps across the globe. Such underground water pumps transformed India from a famine-hit country to a food exporting competitor in two decades of its independence. In India, Pakistan, China and the world as a whole, the field of water governance showcases a complicated tapestry of lawsuits between states, between upper riparian and lower riparian communities, etc. In many countries, water and water rights can be sold for profit despite the diminishing levels of groundwater clubbed with the ever so remarkable trait we hold dearly – Human Ignorance. Proudly equipped with such ignorance, we don’t care two hoots for strategies to replenish dwindling groundwater. It is an absolute mess. Being deeply invested in our social cacophony we exclude ourselves from this planet, the very stage that sets up our whimsical existential play! We fail to realize that our existence is a mere byproduct of Earth’s extraordinary gift, in real estate parlance – location, location, location! We are handling a life-giving element with such disdain, sawing off the branch we are sitting on with an illusion of impunity.
Every time we look up to a planet in search of water (life), we should be reminded of how we ill-treat water on our own planet. A cosmic joke we play on ourselves. If we frame our laws more consciously and treat this miraculous element with the recognition of its life-giving capacity, it will enliven us. Otherwise, we better hope that one of those newly found seven Earth-like wonders circling TRAPPIST-1 has enough water for us to mess it up in the cosmic future.