sustainablespu

Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Sustainability & Film: Mad Max and Water Wars


(Spoiler alert* If you haven’t seen it I don’t want to ruin it for you, go watch it*)

*Mad Max Fury Road contains violence and some nudity, it is rated R, suggested for ages 16 and up because it has intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.*

“Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!” –Immortan Joe

I recently watched the new Mad Max film and really enjoyed it. It’s not only an exciting action flick with great cinematography, it touches on social issues in ways that I was not expecting at all. If you have read reviews of the plot, you know that the setting for the movies is a desert wasteland, and most of the film takes place across a wide expanse of empty land. The New Yorker has a great review has more to do with the plot and style of the film, but I’m going to focus on something the movie also shows us, the importance of water.

In other recent blog posts, I’ve touched on water use reduction and how our campus is doing our part, but this movie takes water scarcity to the extreme. Mad Max shows us that water is vital, when most of us take it for granted. I consistently fill up my water bottle with clean cold water (and I sometimes complain when it rains), but the characters in this film are for the most part very careful with their water. They clamor to fill bowls and pitchers when the aquifer rains down water on top of them.

Water scarcity is in the forefront of the plot and a driving force behind the way the characters travel in the movie. It is part of the reason they leave their location at the beginning of the movie, and finding water is the goal of their travelling. Although difficult for us in Seattle to imagine, this drought-stricken wasteland could be our possible future, and Hollywood’s focus on water scarcity is a way of warning us about our current problems. One of these problems is the privatization of water, which I plan to follow up on with an additional blog post as part of my water series.

An additional similarity is that water will be a source of conflict, and according to James Fergusson at Newsweek, this is already contributing to the unrest in the countries of Syria and Yemen.  His article goes into the history of how there have been many conflicts related to water scarcity.

This however does not just happen in the Middle East, but our own droughts in recent years have severely affected the state of California. Currently 61% of the state is an extreme or exceptional drought according to the United States Drought Monitor, and groundwater was until recently unregulated. This allowed land owners to do as much pumping of groundwater as they pleased. After the 2014 summer, the need for groundwater legislation came to the forefront to end the battling between landowners for water. California state legislation was passed in September of 2014 and then updated this year with Senate bill 13 that amends and clarifies previous Water Code sections of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. These changes create regulation of groundwater basins and provide a foundation for local agencies to limit excessive use of basin water. This is the first step in ensure water is used to keep people healthy and safe during warm months.

Mad Max Fury Road shows us the importance of respecting the resources we have, especially in light of our own water troubles. So the next time you turn on the faucet, think of that dry dusty landscape—and respect the water that comes out of that faucet for the valuable resource it is.

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Author: Lauren

SPU Student

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