I attended a discussion of water tonight in the colonial city of Kelowna. I realize now that “water” is the wrong thing to discuss. “Water” is a use for a form of energy, a point of its collection in a transportable form, yet when discussions are held about it a substance is described instead. For example, in the image below, which I showed in Kelowna tonight, the important water is the dry grass in the foreground, as well as the pine trees scattered across it by the social removal of fire; the lake (Kalamalka Lake) functions as the sky for this environment. It evaporates to water this land from the air. (Note the verb: to water.) Discussions of water, however, concentrate on that lake, as if the energy were a substance. They view the land as a catchment area for lake-ness.
The question has been asked: how can we help young people to change the world, in order to respect the water? (That they want is clear.) The answer is: we can’t, because “water” is the wrong word. We can change that word, however, and then there’s lots we can do, from new laws to new technologies developed from (for example) studying grass. To be clear, it’s not indigenous words that are at fault here. It’s English ones that mistranslate them. A word (water) that says that this energy within grass “passes through it”, while this energy is fully embodied in the lake, doesn’t fit. It gives us watersheds, to collect water from the air. Until we have grass-sheds, to collect grass from the air, we have not found a word for this energy and are making laws about the wrong thing. Period. No compromises. After all, in this environment, 60% of water does not flow through the lakes. It flows through the air. The technology is here, in the grass to talk about that. It’s vitally important to give our children the lakes and the rivers and the salmon. It’s 40% of this energy. The kids deserve 100%.