All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt. ― Susan Sontag
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]Water. For a lot of people across the Midwest United States, it’s something we’ve had a bit much of this summer. There’s been no short amount of rain and with it has come a significant amount of flooding, sometimes in areas that had never seen such a problem before. For all those people who are still cleaning up from the devastating effects of those floods, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of cool water.
Wet conditions don’t prevail everywhere, though, and Western states have continued a drought that started in 2012 and is well beyond critical levels. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) reports that for the month of June approximately 14 percent of the US was plagued with severe to extreme drought, an increase of five percent over May. July numbers aren’t ready yet, but don’t expect them to be any better. Good luck finding cool water around here.
If you want cool water that is actually clean and drinkable, there aren’t that many sources. The entire planet is experiencing a shortage of the stuff and the situation is getting worse. Numbers from aid organizations and charities vary a little bit, but the United Nations reports that 783 million people, that’s over one-tenth of the world’s population, does not have access to clean water. 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation. What’s the resulting impact? 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. And if you think throwing money at the problem is the answer, you’re wrong. The UN estimates it would take 3.5 planets Earth to provide enough water to sustain the existing population at the current lifestyles common to Western Europe and the US. The UN also reports that, “By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could live under water stress conditions.”
We’re not exactly doing well with this cool water thing, are we? I’m pretty sure the majority of people in the US take for granted how fortunate we are to have the easy access to clean, cool water that we do. We don’t have to walk for miles. We simply turn on a tap and it’s there. We don’t even have to worry too often about it being clean.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]Aid organizations have been trying for years to draw our attention to the global water issue without too much luck. In California early this year, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order requiring, among other things, a 25% reduction in water usage across the board, no exceptions. Just this past week, the Internet nearly choked as pictures of Melinda Gates, wife of world’s richest man Bill Gates, was photographed carrying drinking water on her head in solidarity with women in Malawi. Still, at the end of the day, most Americans and Western Europeans ignore the looming disaster.
Today’s picture is a tempting one as we’ve created a double exposure by merging an image of a babbling brook with that of a young woman bathing in a stream. The cool water looks comfortable, refreshing, and alluring. This is a fairly complicated image that not only blends two separate photographs but changes from color to black and white as one moves from left to right across the picture. The result is a blend of emotions as our perspective of the image changes.
Back in 1963, on his album Cattle Call, which produced his signature song, singer/actor Eddie Arnold also included the song Cool Water, about a cowboy crossing the desert with his horse, Dan.
All day I’ve faced a barren waste
Without the taste of water, cool water
Old Dan and I with throats burnt dry
And souls that cry for water, cool clear water.
Dan’s feet are sore he’s yearning for
Just one thing more than water, cool water
Like me I guess he’d like to rest
Where there’s no quest for water, cool clear water
If something doesn’t change, and quickly, those are sentiments we may all soon share.[/one_half_last]