Friday, May 31, 2013

Garden Time!

The weather is getting nicer, and an outdoor activities many individuals are engaging in are yard work and gardening. I have always tried to fill my "flower boxes" with purposeful plants that require low maintenance and return each year, like the artichoke pictured above. I was looking at my delicious creation and noticed a large amount of ants feasting away.
In trying to find a way to keep the ants away, I began researching some home-made, non-toxic aides for growing my plants. As we know, the more toxins in our water supply, the more resources needed to clean it. So, here are a few DIY concoctions for keeping pests away and nourishing your produce without contributing to poisonous water drain-off:

For a natural insecticide:
mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid soap
1 quart of water
A couple drops of orange or lemon essential oil

put in a spray bottle and spray infested area of plant. Reapply after rain. 

For a natural fertilizer:

Many of the products you use daily can be used to feed the plants in your garden. A few examples:

Coffee grounds – Acid loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas love coffee grounds mixed into the soil, sprinkled on top of the ground before watering, or poured on top of the soil. If using as a soil drench, soak 6 cups of coffee grounds in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Let it sit for 2-3 days and then saturate the soil around your plants.

 Egg shells – Wash them first, then crush. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers. The calcium helps fend off blossom end rot. Eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, the same ingredient as lime, a tried and true soil amendment!

For more recipes and suggestions, check out these two sites where I found this useful information:

Natural Pesticides

Natural Fertilizers

Happy Gardening!

Football and Water Wells
Ray Lewis, former Ravens line backer, will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in June in  an effort to raise money for clean water projects in East Africa.  The NFL legend is teaming up with WorldServe International to raise 500,000 dollars to build wells in East Africa. East Africa has experienced serious drought that has killed thousands of people. The water that people currently have access to is unsafe since it contains pathogens such as Cholera and Typhoid
WorldServe  International is a non profit organization  that provides water and  sanitation to developing countries. Water wells would give the people of East Africa long term access to clean water. The wells typically range from 15,000- 25,000 dollars in cost and serve approximately 3000-5000 people! More information on these wells is available here.

"Crop Per Drop" improving water consumption in farming

Green Fields by Larisa Koshkina
A research article recently published by the journal Environmental Research Letters is suggesting a new method to improve water consumption in agriculture. The researchers focused on sixteen staple crops from around the world, and worked to find the use of water, location, and yield to try to maximize effectiveness. They found that the best way to affect the yield by crop was to strategize on where to plant the crops. Essentially, if a particular crop needs more water to grow, then promoting the growth of that plant in regions where more rainwater is available would yield greater results with less irrigation and water taken from the surrounding areas.

Farmers have been doing this for years, but only in regards to their own farmland. Decisions on that front have generally been made regarding which crops they should grow to get the greatest yield for them, as opposed to this, which pinpoints the best places for crops to grow worldwide. This helps fight crop overconsumption of water and underproduction of food. In fact, the researchers found that by bringing some of the poorest performers up to just the 20th percentile of performance, they could feed an additional 110 million people, while not using any more farmland or water.

To read more, click here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Water Awareness with your Children

Teaching your children the importance of water is crucial to raising a generation that’s aware of the world’s water supply. Helping them understand the benefits of water conservation will help you conserve, retain and recycle water in your house. This short video is very easy to understand might help spark conversation with your kids and open door to teach them how to conserve water.

Not So Fun Fact of the Day

"We must work to ensure that no child dies from preventable water-related diseases, that no girl fears going to school for lack of access to a separate toilet, that no women walks six kilometers to collect water for her family, and that no war is ever fought over water"

While attending Portland State University, how many students have wondered, while refilling their water bottles at the free hydrating stations if the water crisis occurred within their vicinity? WHat if those were our children dying from a preventable water-related disease, our sisters or daughters going to school with a fear of not having access to a separate toilet, or our mother and wives walking six kilometers-almost four miles just to obtain water for the family? Even worse, have we imagined a war fought over water? 

The water crisis might not have seemed so urgent a few years ago, or even a few months ago, but now is the time to worry. The crisis is expanding all around the world and effecting everyone, including us. We must do all that we can so no war is fought over water, one of the necessities we human beings need to survive.

Below are links with many different facts about the water crisis.

Supreme Court Water Battles!

Water isn't just worth fighting for in third world countries; there is a battle for water right here in the US. Texas and Oklahoma fought in the Supreme Court over use of the Red River. Texas argues that economic development has been stunted by the drought. The Red River runs between the two states, and they have existing agreements about how the water would be shared. Those agreements had been made in 1980, but in April of this year, Texas asked the Supreme Court for a re-negotiation of the compact for use of a tributary of the river called the Kaimichi.

The Supreme Court is said to make their decision sometime in June.

What do you think they should decide?

NPR’s Talk of the Nation covered this story yesterday.

NPR's Weekend Edition covered the Supreme Court dispute in April.

Be sure to check out our previous post about America’s endangered rivers, if you haven’t already. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Faith in a Better Tomorrow

There seems to be a huge misunderstanding in pop culture about Christianity and sustainability issues. Unfortunately, politics weigh heavily into the conversation. Conservatives do not care about sustainable issues, this is only a liberal stance, right?


Jonathan Merrit, author of Green Like God warns, "Ignoring environmental problems heaps shame on the gospelPart of missional living is telling the truth. That means we must be honest about our world's problems. When we blindly follow Christian lobbying groups and 'alliances' that ignore global injustice, the gospel suffers."

Evangelical Environmental Network is just one example of an organization that  "educates, inspires, and mobilizes Christians in their effort to care for God's creation, to be faithful stewards of God's provision, and to advocate for actions and policies that honor God and protect the environment."

The effects of climate change are issues for all people to address regardless of faith or political views. The Bible commands us to be stewards over the planet.

Watch this recent television spot below for an inspiring message about climate change and how 
we can get involved:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Global Water Crisis Exists! ASL Video

The Global Water Crisis Exists! 

Water equals life. Without it animals, plants, the entire ecosystem, and people would not exist. Our world is made of 97% salt water, leaving 3% fresh water for over 7.1 billion people. The National Resources Defense Council has recently revealed a study where, "more than 1,100 counties -- one-third of all counties in the lower 48 -- will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming. More than 400 of these counties will face extremely high risks of water shortages." In America, we are far from where the majority of people are experiencing the current issues relating to the water crisis. However, we cannot continue to ignore the problem and demand water at unsustainable levels. Water is life and I don't know about you, but I want to live! Do you?

Please visit to learn about the Global Water Crisis to see what the issues are and what solutions are being discussed.  


Written English translation of the above video by Rose Davis:
Hi, I’m Rose Davis, a Portland State University student. I’m currently involved with a group of students who are researching and locating information regarding the Global Water Crisis. Did you know, water is absolutely necessary for humanity to survive? Water is life. Without water, humanity, our ecosystem, and the animal kingdom would cease to exist. We drink water to live and maintain a healthy body. Without this resource, we would dehydrate and die.
You might be thinking, “Where’s the problem?” The world is covered in water.  I agree. However, 97% of the world is covered in salt water, leaving only 3% fresh water. Since the beginning of time, 3% fresh water has been sufficient until now.  The National Resource Defense Council recently reported by 2050, more than 1,100 countries will be at risk of reduced access to clean water and water shortages due to global warming. And meanwhile, the world’s population is constantly growing rapidly. Currently, we have 7.1 billion people on the planet who are simultaneously depleting our water resources. There is not enough water to go around.
Currently, in 2013, 783 million people are without access to clean water. And everyday, nearly 3,000 children die because of water-related illnesses. The future is in our hands. We can do something about this and get involved to prevent the problem from getting worse. At Portland State University, students are researching and locating information and finding ideas. We are discussing the global water crisis with our communities trying to come up with the best solutions to this issue. Please visit our website: Thanks for watching. We hope you will join us to fight the global water crisis. Thank you.
National Resource Defense Council. (2013). Quote derived from the following website: on 5/28/13


While scrolling through my Twitter feed  today I noticed this article about Chelsea Clinton going to Myanmar for a clean water project. The project is done through  Procter & Gamble's Children's Safe Drinking Water initiative. The amazing part though is how they transform the dirty, polluted water into drinkable pure water. They use PUR water packets. Its as simple as  adding  the powder into the contaminated water, stirring for 15 minutes, and pouring the water over a cotton cloth for filtration. Here is more information from World Vision Blog ( on how the products works. 

  "So how does PUR work? The process occurs in three parts — coagulation, flocculation, and disinfection — which is precisely the same processes that occur in a treatment plant.
First, heavy metals and parasites are combined to form small particles (coagulation). These smaller particles are then glued together to form bigger particles (flocculation), which get so large that they fall to the bottom of the container.  The water is further cleaned by the use of a disinfectant, just like in municipal treatment. When the PUR-treated water is strained through a filter, the water is crystal-clear and safe to drink."
This clean water technology can provide safe drinking water instantly to people all around the world who need it. 

Here is a video demonstrating the clean water technology 



·         Statistics on the water crisis in America

·         768 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly 11% of the world's population. (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programmer (JMP) Report 2013 update)

·         2.5 billion People in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, almost two fifths of the world's population. (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programmer (JMP) Report 2013 update)

·         Around 700,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation – that's almost 2,000 children a day.
(Water Aid 2012/WHO 2008/The Lancet 2012)

·         Lack of safe water and sanitation costs sub-Saharan Africa around 5% of its Gross Domestic Product each year. (UNDP)

·         Just $25 can enable one person to access a lasting supply of safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation. (Water Aid)

·         Hand-washing with soap at critical times can reduce the incidence of diarrhea by up to 47%. (UN Water)

·         The integrated approach of providing water, sanitation and hygiene reduces the number of deaths caused by diarrheal diseases by an average of 65%. (WHO)

·         For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity.
(Reference: Hutton, , WHO, Geneva, 2012: page 4)

·         The weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their heads is commonly 40 pounds, the same as an airport luggage allowance.

·         Water and sanitation infrastructure helps people take the first essential step out of the cycle of poverty and disease. In the UK the expansion of sanitation infrastructure in the 1880s contributed to a 15 year increase in life expectancy in the following four decades. For more information:

World Water Day: A forceful reminder that the U.S. is running out of fresh water

By Steve Tracton, Published: March 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first World Water Day, a day established by the United Nations to focus attention on the importance of fresh water around the globe. Globally, fresh water is increasingly becoming an endangered resource. According to a U.S. State Department document released on World Water Day last year, the need for fresh water will exceed the supply by 40 percent by the year 2030.

The entire year (2013) has been designated the U.N. International Year of Water Cooperation. It reflects the “multi-dimensional mandate in the realm of natural and social sciences, culture, education and communication, and its significant and long-standing contribution to the management of the world’s freshwater resources.” Celebrations and events across the globe, aimed at raising awareness of fresh water issues and concerns, are concentrated (but not limited to) World Water Day. (A listing of events in the DC Metro region is provided at the end of this post.)

We’re probably all aware to some extent of water shortages and their implications that continually plague the predominately poor inhabitants of undeveloped countries. The sight of young children or forsaken mothers scrounging daily for limited sources of clean water for drinking and cooking appear often on TV documentaries and the like. For more information:


Water From Thin Air

Rain water capture is a great way to take advantages from our skies. Cities all around the world ,where heavy rain is available, take advantage of this. However, is it impossible to capture water from a place in which there is actually no rain at all?

Lima, the capital of Peru, along with its outskirts, being a desert is plagued by a vicious drought which coupled with pollution and unsanitary water extraction methods, has made the water there stagnant, dirty and dangerous. Doing what they know best, engineers at Peru's University for Engineering and Technology (UTEC) have devised a resourceful system that sucks up the moisture out of the air and turns it into clean, drinkable water. To make sure the people were aware of this, they installed the system under the form of a double paneled billboard which is sure to highlight there is safe water to be found at the location.

The engineers had to think of a way to build a system that’s able to suck enough water from the air, while at the same time letting people know there’s water readily available. Engineers part of the project have installed five generators to suck moisture out of the air and convert it into liquid. The system requires at least 30% moisture in the air for it to be effective, something of the least worry since Lima and its vicinity are often soaked in an unbearably sticky 98 percent, despite the barren landscape where there is very little evident vegetation and not very much actual rainfall.

The whole system was then sandwiched  between two huge billboards which advertise the availability of the water. The system produces some 100 liters of water per day, and given the sounding success the Peruvian engineers are currently discussing ways to implement it through the city, country and even overseas.

The UN and other global leaders have recently called for greater solutions to the water crisis, as projections point to the fact that about 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities in the next eight years, adding more strain on sanitation systems and resources. In Lima, one million of the more than eight million people lack reliably clean water.


Monday, May 27, 2013


China is not known for being incredibly eco-friendly. At least, it wasn't until now. In Samning and Nanping there is an eco-compensation effort. There is around $800 million being poured into these cities and their farmers in order to keep the forests and the waters clean. Much like the program New York City's Watershed, they are making strong improvements in how they treat the earth and the conservation of water and ecosystems.

These projects are specifically rebuilding forests and making farmers use new methods in order to conserve forests and grasslands. Some farmers are even asked to relocate their farming if it is in reforestation area, of course they are given compensation for this. These types of programs should be implemented in every country and every city on the planet. If we can keep the eco-system going we can keep our water. Watershed management is the new hope and China is going down the right track. Other places should inherit these methods and if they can't financially wealthier countries should help out. There needs to be these processes in every state of the U.S. especially in the states that need it most, like California, New Mexico, and Florida.


In this post I provide a fact sheet from Food & Water Watch website. This is an organization that is giving enlightenment to people about how serious the water problem is on our planet. Now these facts and statistics may seem scary or even hopeless but it is just a slap in the face so that we can start moving toward water conservation and learning to treat our planet correctly so that we do not lose anymore of our water sources. Some examples that the organization gives on how to help this situation is: to do daily tasks using less water, don't buy plastic water bottles, and do not support fracking or privatized water sources. If we don't take action now these numbers below are going to start getting a lot worse.

Water Facts


Restricted Access to Water

1.4 billion people live without clean drinking water
Two-fifths of the world’s population lack access to proper sanitation
More than one-third of Africa‚ population lacks access to safe drinking water
More than 130 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean lack access to safe drinking water
Between 15 and 20 percent of the water used worldwide is not for domestic consumption, but rather for export

Water and Disease

Every eight seconds a child dies from drinking dirty water
Half of the world‚ hospital beds are occupied by people with an easily preventable waterborne disease
80 percent of all sickness and disease worldwide is related to contaminated water, according to the World Health Organization
Diarrhea killed more children in the last decade, nearly 2 million a year in developing countries , than all armed conflicts since the Second World War.
Dirty water kills more children than war, malaria, HIV/AIDS and traffic accidents combined
75 percent of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from chronic dehydration because of poor water quality

Water Quality

90 percent of wastewater produced in underdeveloped countries is discharged untreated into local waters
80 of China‚ major rivers are so degraded that they no longer support aquatic life
90 percent of all groundwater systems under major cities in China are contaminated
75 percent of India‚ rivers and lakes are so polluted that they should not be used for drinking or bathing
60 percent of rural Russians drink water from contaminated wells
20 percent of all surface water in Europe is seriously threatened

Water Scarcity

One-third of the world‚ population lives in water stressed countries now
Unless we change our ways, two-thirds of the world‚ population will face water scarcity by 2025
Compared today, five times as much land is likely to be under ‚extreme” drought by 2025
The percentage of the Earth‚ land area stricken by serious drought more than doubled between the 1970s and 2005
Rapid melting will reduce the Tibetan glaciers by 50 percent every decade, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences
More than two-thirds of Chinese cities face water shortages
90 percent of the Europe‚ alpine glaciers are in retreat
United States

Water Scarcity

Water managers in 36 states expect water shortages by 2013, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office
One-third of all U.S. water withdrawals are for export
California has a 20-year supply of freshwater left
New Mexico has only a ten-year supply of freshwater left
Florida‚ rapid use of groundwater has created thousands of sinkholes that devour anything , houses, cars and shopping malls , unfortunate enough to be built on top of them
The U.S. interior west is probably the driest it has been in 500 years, according to the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Geological Survey
In 2007, Lake Superior, the world‚ largest freshwater lake, dropped to its lowest levels in 80 years and the water has receded more than 15 meters from the shoreline
Lake Mead, the vast reservoir of the Colorado River, has a 50 percent chance of running dry by 2021

Water Quality

40 percent of U.S. rivers and streams are too dangerous for fishing, swimming or drinking
46 percent of U.S. lakes are too dangerous for fishing, swimming or drinking because of massive toxic runoff from industrial farms, intensive livestock operations and the more than 1 billion pounds of industrial weed killer used through the country each year
Two-thirds of U.S. estuaries and bays are moderately or severely degraded
One quarter of U.S. beaches are under advisories or closed due to water pollution
1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution are carried by the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico every year

Pure Drinkable Water; Website Project Launch!

The students of Portland State University's Multimedia Capstone have worked very hard to launch our website, Pure Drinkable Water.

When I first began this course, I already knew there are serious issues regarding clean water availability but I did not have a sense of how critical this issue is or how I could personally contribute to finding solutions.

Through blogging and reading other students' work, I realize this is a common misunderstanding. One classmate wrote this piece on how the water crisis is "hidden" because of our proximity to those affected.

We had interesting discussion about Portland, Oregon's fluoride debate on Twitter and here on this blog. Which we have updated our website to include the exciting conclusion of the vote.

One student was able to conduct an interview with Dr. Sandra Postel who is an international expert on the global water crisis. 

We learned about innovative people who are addressing the water crisis combining new and old technologies. 

However, I think what my largest take-away from this term, is how I can make a difference in both small and large ways. We found many, many ways individuals can effect change both inside and outside of their homes. We found many, many organizations who need volunteers and organizers. One organization, Charity:Water asks people to commit to a very small act: give up gift receiving on our birthdays and instead have your loved ones' give directly to those in need of wells.

Thank you to my fellow students and professor for engaging me and helping me to expand my knowledge of a solvable issue.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Learning about the water crisis with your kids

Children are capable of contributing to global change. The first step in motivating action towards change is education. When kids learn about issues that are negatively affecting themselves, and others, they are often inspired to do what they can to make things better.
This is a short video that is easy to watch and understand, for the entire family. I watched this with my 9yr old and 13 yr old, and it sparked a lot of conversation.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Women Are the Victims Again

Women and kids are two of the biggest victims of any global or local crisis. In many parts of the world women have to work in the field, search for water, give birth, cook, clean, etc. Women are the ones who do most of the work in many parts of the world but when it comes to decision-making they are the ones who are ignored most of the time. The global water crisis is one of the subjects in which women are being ignored. The United Nations (UN) was aware of this gender inequality and they have added this to the Millennium Development Goals project: Promote gender equality and empower women (goal 3) and ensure environmental Sustainability (Goal 7).  These are two of the important goals to bring gender equality and to solve the global water crisis.

With Gender and the Water Millennium Development Goals the UN is trying to promote gender equality. The UN only can not provide help to those women and kids. You can take an action and raise your voice to stop this inequality. By raising your voice you not only save the environment. You also save women’s lives, you save kids, you help girls to go to school instead of searching for water in rural areas where many of them are faced with sexual abuse. Do not deny women their human rights.

Yusuf Celik