“Water is the driving force of all nature.”—Leonardo da Vinci
I’m a limnologist. Like other water scientists, I study the properties of water; how it behaves in a watershed. I help manage water in our environment; its flow, distribution, storage and quality. I look at how water changes the landscape, carving out huge valleys, forming deltas at river mouths, and polishing pebbles smooth on a lakeshore. I investigate the effects of its contamination by toxins, organic pollutants and disrespect. In its solid form, water has scraped out huge swaths of land and formed some of our largest lakes, dropping moraine in places and melt water from ice blocks elsewhere. In its gaseous form, water controls climate and weather.
And yet, what do we really know about water?
Water is the most common substance on Earth. Chemically, the water molecule is basically two atoms of hydrogen joined to one of oxygen. Simple. Not so simple.
For something so “simply” made, water is pretty complex. Its unique properties make water possibly the most important element of our existence and in ways most of us can’t possibly imagine. Without water no life form could exist. Water is a universal solvent. It transports all kinds of things from the sediment of the Nile River to the oxygenated blood cells in your arteries. Water stores energy and heat. It responds to and changes the properties of all manner of things.
Scientific studies have begun to show some astonishing properties and behaviours of water. One is that water reacts to—and may even drive some—cosmic phenomena. Laboratory studies with water have shown that it is not always the same. Studies have revealed that water is influenced by shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field or by explosions on the Sun. Of course, most of us know about how the Earth’s great water bodies respond to the movements of the Moon around the Earth in the oceanic tides and the seiches of the Great Lakes. But we are learning that water is far more sensitive and responsive than most people ever imagined. And some suspect that water responds to and is interconnected in some way with all that exists in the cosmos.
While Earth is blessed with copious amounts of water, 97% is salty and 2% is locked up in snow and ice. at leaves 1 percent for us to drink, bathe, and grow our crops. Less, really, because some of that water is contaminated.
Since the dinosaurs quenched their thirst in the soupy marshes of the Triassic Period millions of years ago, to the rain falling on your house today, the amount of moisture on Earth hasn’t changed. However, scientists predict that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live where usable water is scarce.
“Water is life,” says author Barbara Kingsolver in an article in the 2010 Water Issue of National Geographic. “It’s the briny broth of our origins, the pounding circulatory system of the world. We stake our civilizations on the coasts and mighty rivers. Our deepest dread is the threat of having too little—or too much.” North Americans use about 100 gallons of water at home every day, yet the world’s poorest subsist on less than 5 gallons, many walking miles to get their water.
One of humanity’s greatest crimes is that we don’t treat water respectfully and with gratitude. It’s free, after all (unless it isn’t, that is). It’s everywhere, isn’t it? “Water is the ultimate commons,” says Kingsolver. All life is made up of from 50 to 95 percent water, with humans aver- aging 70 percent (babies generally containing more, close to 80%); this ironically reflects the proportion of water on the planet. Some scientists now tell us that—although an adult human contains generally two- thirds water—on a molecular level, our water content is much higher. Water occupies over 98% of a human cell molecule.
We are water. What we do to water we do to ourselves.
The consequences of our actions simply ow away. It is an unfortunate reality that most of us have remained indifferent to the effects of our actions on water. Perhaps this is because, according to Andreas Wilkens in his book Understanding Water, water “is a master of concealment, withdrawing from so many phenomena, appearing in that which it simultaneously transforms: in the colors of the heavens, or the reflection of a shore on the surface of a lake. The more intensely it participates in a particular phenomenon, the more hidden it remains.”
If things are defined by their behaviour, then water is an altruist.
Many researchers, scientists and wellness practitioners agree that frequency affects—if not in fact directs—the manifestation and eradication of disease. Beneficial frequencies have been identified, the same ones found in the Earth and in the Earth’s minerals. Just sitting on a granite boulder on a sunny day radiates frequencies flowing through your body. Water intensifies the flow and can heal.
So, what is water, really? And what does it mean to you and your loved ones?
Some see water as a commodity like everything else that can make them rich; they will claim it as their own to sell. Yet it cannot be “owned” or kept. Ultimately, water will do its job to energize you and give you life, bring beauty to the world, then quietly take its leave.
This article is an adapted excerpt from “Water Is…The Meaning of Water” (Pixl Press) by Nina Munteanu
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s recent book is the bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” (Mincione Edizioni, Rome). Her latest “Water Is…” is currently an Amazon Bestseller and NY Times ‘year in reading’ choice of Margaret Atwood.