Chasing Rivers: An Adventure on the Colorado

Posted on October 1, 2016 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Where does your water come from?

Take a minute and think about it. It’s not a question we tend to dwell on until the water around us begins to run dry.

Water is something we can easily take for granted, particularly when we have the luxury of living near it, or not having to worry about what comes out of our taps. Perhaps the story of our water is something we should pay a little more attention to, not only for ourselves, but for the life downstream.

Image: Horse shoe bend in the colorado river aerial photograph
Image: Ken Kistler

National Geographic explorer, photographer, writer, and filmmaker Pete McBride went on a journey to study a water source near and dear to his heart, the Colorado River. This river, in the Southwestern United States, spans seven US states and runs into Mexico before emptying into the Gulf of California. On his journey, McBride gained valuable insights into how our lives are deeply intertwined with our rivers and how critical it is to remember that our decisions upstream have enormous consequences for those downstream.

This Saturday Around the World, we take a journey down the mighty Colorado River. Here is Pete McBrides’ captivating talk about the river he loves from the National Geographic Live stage…

Life Downstream…

Now, you don’t have to go chasing rivers of your own to grasp your place in the wider world. Imagine, for a second the path the river or stream or creek near you takes as its waters make their way downstream. What do they pass by, what do they carry with them along the way?

It’s easy to forget how interconnected we all are. What taking that extra long shower or forgetting to turn off the lights means for others. Very often, our instinct is not to change our behavior, but to expect somebody else in a “worse” situation to change theirs. This is the kind of thinking that leads us nowhere.

The future of this planet will be deeply interwoven with how we use precious resources like fresh water. We not only have a responsibility to protect the waters that surround us, but to think about how our behaviour will impact our neighbors downstream. Whether we are talking about the water politics of the United States and Mexico, or the water politics of China and India, it is critical that we take into consideration our universal needs, like access to clean water.

Sure, this seems like a massive problem, but if there is one thing we hope to give you when you come to Ever Widening Circles is a feeling of possibility for the future. Will these challenges be difficult, yes, but they are not impossible to solve, and if we raise the next generation of thought leaders with that mentality we keep the doors of possibility open and allow for creative solutions to emerge.

If you are interested in learning a little more about finding creative solutions to some of our planet’s biggest problems, check out our article on The Ocean Cleanup, a project started by a teenager with an audacious idea that could have an enormous impact on our future!

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Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge