March 23, 2014
Exodus 17: 1-7
John 4: 5-42
In his message for the 2014 World Water Day (March 22), Gen. Secretary Ban Ki Moon stated: “Climate change driven in great part by the unsustainable use of energy will exacerbate water stress and scarcity in many regions. Efforts to provide universal access to water and energy will be undermined if the current warming trend continues.
The many strong links between water and energy demand coherent, integrated policies and innovative strategies. Water must be used — and electricity must be generated and distributed — equitably and efficiently, so all users get a fair share” (UN World Water Day).
In the Hebrew Bible reading for this week, the people were thirsty and grumbling against their leader:
“But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?'” (Exod.17:3).
Without water, most of us would not last 40 hours in the desert, much less 40 years. Moses had to do something.
The UN World Water Day wants to spread the following message regarding water and its links to energy (both physical and political). Getting water equitably for all is going to require going to a hard place:
1. Water requires energy and energy requires water.
Water is required to produce nearly all forms of energy. Energy is needed at all stages of water extraction, treatment and distribution.
2. Supplies are limited and demand is increasing.
Demand for freshwater and energy will continue to increase significantly over the coming decades. This increase will present big challenges and strain resources in nearly all regions, especially in developing and emerging economies.
3. Saving energy is saving water. Saving water is saving energy.
Choices concerning the supply, distribution, price, and use of water and energy impact one another.
4. The “bottom billion” urgently needs access to both water and sanitation services, and electricity.
Worldwide, 1.3 billion people cannot access electricity, 768 million people lack access to improved water sources and 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation. Water and energy have crucial impacts on poverty alleviation.
5. Improving water and energy efficiency is imperative as are coordinated, coherent and concerted policies.
Better understanding between the two sectors of the connections and effects on each other will improve coordination in energy and water planning, leading to reducing inefficiencies. Policy-makers, planners and practitioners can take steps to overcome the barriers that exist between their respective domains. Innovative and pragmatic national policies can lead to more efficient and cost effective provision of water and energy services.
The Mosaic Law under Deuteronomy has provisions regarding progressive income redistribution:
“When you have finished paying the complete tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and the widow, that they may eat in your towns, and be satisfied” (Deut. 26:12).
The overarching view of the Hebrew Bible is that “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). Wealth is not something to be hoarded or consumed by the individual. The wealth of the world is the Lord’s, and the Lord hears the cries of the poor for water.
This Lent, let us remember that the poor who thirst are God’s chosen in our everyday decisions, individual and collective: “The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 41:17).