Water is moving through the global water cycle more quickly and more disruptively thanks to the warming of the planet’s atmosphere. Extreme weather events are becoming the norm. Human activities are magnifying the impact of these events. We have arrived at an intersection , which path will we take.
We can look at water and water sheds through a narrow technical lens, but the risks of error great. Perhaps we can look at the situation through a whole systems approach…even re-visiting our relationship with nature.
Let us consider Blue Ecology which is defined as the interweaving of western science and traditional First Nations teaching and local knowledge. Blue Ecology has 5 guiding principles and aligns with the whole system, water balance approach– Spirit, Harmony, Respect, Unity, and Balance. To make the right choices we must understand how and where the rhythms of water are changing. then we apply ecosystem based understanding to adapt our practices to suit a changing climate.
Atmospheric rivers have recently been identified as a narrow corridor of concentrated water vapor aloft. These can be great rivers, perhaps the best known is the “pineapple express”. This river in the air periodically crosses the Pacific from Hawaii dropping rains on the west coast of North America..sometimes the water is much-needed , sometimes it can cause serious flooding devastating communities in its path. With the warming of the atmosphere the more moisture can be held aloft. We need to consider stabilizing the Earth’s atmosphere or face the likelihood of more flooding and serious economic damage. The idea of sustainability and adaptive resilience become a moving target.
Success depends on embracing a water first approach. Water is a core human value upon which we can build a cross cultural climate change strategy. Indigenous societies believe that water is a living entity, a sacred centre from which all other activities radiate. The Blue Ecology frame provides a holistic cultural context to enhance Western sciences knowledge of the water cycle for the benefit of hydrologists and water managers.