In March, there are two awareness days that pretty much summarize what I believe in and support in a nice litte nutshell: International Women’s Day and World Water Day. I get excited for them each year because it’s a chance for me to talk to people about what I support: women’s rights, and the right to a clean and secure water source.
But I take issue with both. Both focus on international issues, and sweep over the fact that these are still very present issues here in the United States. Both tend to lend credence to those who believe that these days are reasons to pop into other worlds for the day and explain away issues.
Because the truth is…
Because the truth is that women’s rights in the United States are way behind what they should be. Our last few years in politics have been law after statement after sound bite of men policing women’s bodies and deciding that women are both stupid enough to not know what to do with our bodies best, and smart enough that our bodies can ‘shut down rape.’ We are not arguing the next stage in women’s rights, but rehashing issues from years ago to distract politicians from doing any real work. (And I say this to both the right and the left; the left plays too much defense on these issues and lets the right sweep any pressing issues under the rug.)
And the truth is that water security is not guaranteed for everyone here in the US, either. Sure, there are places in the world where women must walk 8 miles a day to fetch enough water to manage the household chores; where wells must be dug deeper and deeper each year because the water levels drop; and where countries squabble over who deserves to have clean water.
But the tech you are promoting has not worked here.
But this all happens here in the United States too. People may not have to walk miles, but they do have to drive to wells to fill up tanks in the backs of their cars to take back to farms and households for the day. We have to invent technology to find more water sources because our reserves are dropping – the Ogalla Aquifer drops every year. And we ignore the pleas of Mexicans just over the border using what’s left of the Colorado River for crops and life – hard to do when the Colorado River severely peters out after passing through the southwest, and what’s left is contaminated with pollutants.
Over the weekend, I listened to Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Gates Foundation, discuss how Cargill and Monsanto would be the answer to global food security, and qualify this by discussing his Nebraskan farming roots. That’s right, he was promoting using GMO seeds as a way of saving agriculture worldwide and claiming he knew the plight of American farmers forced to comply with the use of GMO seeds to make ends meet. (He did mention that his family owned a few thousand acres, so maybe industrial agriculture bought them out a long time ago).
My point is not to belittle what Rakes knows about farming, but to point out that we are so concerned with what’s happening abroad that we don’t realize what’s happening here at home. Yes, the global food system is failing. But the tech you are promoting has not worked here. In the same way, the solutions to water scarcity abroad are scaled up solutions of what has not worked here.
We need to stop looking at the forest and start looking at the trees that are growing here at home.