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ENVS 1000 Lecture Notes - Mineral Water, Mekong, Osmosis

Environmental Studies
Course Code
ENVS 1000
Peter Timmerman

of 3
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The only substance that can be in all 3 physical states altogether within a
reasonable temperature range. Earth is situated in a way that allows water
vapour/water/ice to be present simultaneously. It has a high retention rate
(holds high temperatures) and balances heat extremes. Water vapour holds
and moves heat around. Positioning of hydrogen and oxygen atoms slightly
polarizing, it makes water a good solvent. Water’s structures (hydrogen and
oxygen) gives itself a slightly polarized energy to create bonds.
It is less dense than water, which allows it to float. It acts as an insulator over
lakes and other large bodies of water, so that life can continue underneath.
Water and You
Since humans are made up of mostly water, they are susceptible to
everything that is in the water.
Turgidity is what keeps humans from looking dehydrated and shriveled.
Average home consumes about a million litres of water every few years.
Religions and Water Symbols
There are two different kinds of water: 1) saltwater – dangerous and kills
agriculture; 2) freshwater – cleans and refreshes. It comes down from the sky
or a mysterious source.
In different traditions, water and gardens are very important to the tradition.
Whether it is its existence or sound. It symbolizes cleansing.
Water as a public good- used for drinking.
Water- is always passing, it changes, it holds together but transforms. Water
is a metaphor for the soul or life itself.
Shinto tradition: a place of rivers and movement of water is a place of
transforming power. You are supposed to gather or garnering these falls of
Water is used a lot in advertising- it connotes sex appeal and “hot”/”cold”
Water Cycle
Ground water flow occurs in the soil
Water in the World
Most of the water in the world is saltwater, and thus not for drinking. A small
percentage is freshwater. There is not a lot of water for human access.
World water consumption is increasing.
Global water situation: there are more than 2 billion people who are under
water stress, which means they are not accessing enough water. Many
people rely on groundwater and springs, which are essentially tapping into
groundwater as opposed to lakes. Some of it are from aquifers from many
years ago.
Most of the water withdrawals are from agriculture. Currently, it is very
Water pricing: governments subsidize this. Citizens normally do not pay the
full price of water.
There is a lot of agricultural water use, then domestic usage for those in
developed countries and then industrial.
About 1 billion people still have little to no access to freshwater and is
leading to many deaths.
Water Wars
E.g. the Nile River is essential to the existence of Egypt. Water lines are
fundamental to supporting life in countries.
Mekong River
It extends from Tibet, goes through China and Laos, all the way down to
Vietnam. It feeds most of the population of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Up
to this point, the only ones who built dams are the Chinese. Other countries
are beginning to build dams too. They have not done so until recently
because they had been in war for a long time.
It is a huge fishery. It is unlikely that the fishing will survive in the future.
For dams to work, patrolling is needed. However, dams are threatening to
the fish.
Pros: generates electricity, organized water management (keep flooding
down), irrigation
Cons: displacement of peoples, destroying ecosystems upstream and
downstream, interfering with fish spawning
Farmers are draining aquifers, and those have a specified lifespan- takes a
long time to regenerate. Certain countries, places like Libya, sold oil to buy
Canadian Context
Part of the water (e.g. lakes) is owned by the federal government and the
provincial government owns other parts. At the moment, water is not
considered a commodity, unless bottled. Some proposals have been made to
pipe water to the US for a cost. Provinces do not accept withdrawing water
for the US any more than what is already underway.
Developing World
Transporting approximately 100 kg of water daily, which is a waste of effort
and is inefficient.
Generating water- it takes a huge amount of water to create other goods,
like steel, glass, etc.
Toronto’s Water System
It is coming from Lake Ontario and goes through a fairly rigorous
screening/testing process.
Irrigation for agriculture is extremely inefficient. Microirrigation has emerged
as an alternative. It consists of drip-feeding to eliminate the amount of water
that becomes evaporated. It is more efficient, though costly at first. This
process currently requires more fine-tuning.
Bottled Water
Types of bottled water:
1) Mineral water- “luxury”
2) Spring water- comes from cracks in the ground
3) Purified water- cleaned tap water that goes through reverse osmosis
(osmosis is water coming into a cell)
Bottled water is one of the least regulated markets. It is growing and very
lucrative. The water itself costs next to nothing. It is the bottling, production,
advertising and retailing that are the major expenditures.
Bottled water is tested much less than tap water. It is polluting to the
environment because of the production process, manufacturing and disposal.
The entire cycle is inefficient and wasteful of time and resources.
The reason it perpetuates is because of marketing. Marketing is used to tap
into ideas about “pure water” and “purity”, which is culturally dependent. It
is perverse environmentalism.