Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tip of the (Melting) Iceberg: Another Anecdote of the Failures of Information Literacy

On the heels of the Derrick Jensen post, I wonder how many individuals can immediately identify where their drinking water comes from. That is, where is your watershed? How would you find this out? Google it? Try a search and see how "easy" that is. Can you get this information from your library or librarian? I'd argue that this is critical (information) literacy that we are missing. What research or practical questions are raised here? What, if any, academic disciplines offer a useful lens to examine this lack of information and broader environmental problems?

After you've tried this little exercise you may want to check out any number of resources, and even post what you find here. I've got a couple below.

The Global Water Policy Project and "Water: Adapting to a New Normal"

Adopt a Watershed web site


Duncan Shorter said...

When asked for the first time, no I was not able to identify where my hometown, Charlotte's water supply was... after I Googled it however, (through multiple queries and pages) and actually only finding the name though a newspaper article exclaiming it's acidity had risen(!), I was left even more clueless, because I did not know the name of the lake that was actually 8 miles from my house.
Honestly, if I asked a librarian, they'd probably know off of memory, but if not, I'm sure they'd have some short of official documentation to provide.
I'm actually a like bit ashamed of myself for not knowing immediately when asked. But more ashamed that there isn't an easier way to find out!

Annie Berrier said...

I also had no idea where my watershed was. Once I did little research and found the answer on the EPA website, I was not please. The river that my hometown gets its water from is far from clean. I know water goes through a long and drawn out purification process, or at least I hope it does, but there is no reason that the water in the Yadkin river should be that murky all the time. In my opinion, knowing that freshwater is n necessity for all life forms, I feel that more needs to be done to ensure that the water we drink is never abused.

Carly Earp said...

It is amazing how in class no one really knew where their water came from, including me. After sharing in class where our watershed was located everyone was more aware of the condition of their water source altogether.

Gokul Shankar said...

I think the realization that many of us don't know where our water comes from raises the question, what's really important to us in our everyday lives? I'm not saying we shouldn't know where our water comes from and the conditions of these water sources, but we don't usually use this knowledge in our everyday lives. I personally have lived 18 years without knowing, and even now I probably wont think much about it after this class. Maybe if the water source's condition was completely horrid, someone might say something, but the majority of us will prefer to live in the bliss of ignorance that we have lived in for so long.

In this technology and socially driven age, such information is becoming obsolete. People would much rather know the latest celebrity news or watch the latest movie rather than know about the latest condition of their water source. We would much rather place complete trust in figures we cannot see, rather than take measures into our own hands. This presents an ever growing problem because things that should be important in our lives are not.

Ashley McDonald said...

When asked in class about where my water came from I honestly had no clue and I still have no clue. I live out in the middle of the country technically not in any town and at least 30 minutes from a lake in Greensboro, N.C. and another one in Burlington, N.C. When my parents built my house we had a well put in and we also have a large at least 4 acre pond and a river that runs through our land. I found that some of the town of Gibsonville gets their water from Lake MacIntosh and Lake Townsend as well as two other sources. I still even after researching don't know exactly where my water comes from.