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Words of Wisdom / Supreme Master Ching Hai's Lectures

The 1st Middle East Vegetarian (MEVEG) Congress, Part 38 of a Multi-part Series, Dec. 7, 2010

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I will continue to share more with you. You will be more surprised. I’m sorry, I wish I could bring you more pleasant news, but friends have to tell each other the truth, if you allow me.

Now we go to section #3, which is “Groundwater Depletion.” We could have other kinds of water, but if groundwater is depleted, then we are in deep trouble. I’m sure you understand this. Because a prolonged drought coupled with higher use is quickly depleting groundwater throughout the Emirates, especially in Abu Dhabi, where this source is relied upon for 71% of the total supply, especially for agriculture.

However, water consumption is noted to be 24 times higher than the land’s ability to recharge and replenish the water the natural way. And unusable saltwater is now found at shallow depths even. They are shrinking. All kinds of water, not just sweet water, even salty water is shrinking. Instead of reaching water at a depth of six meters, as they did in the past in order to dig the well, now the well diggers currently have to go as deep as 100 meters below the ground before finding it, or in some cases, not even able to find any water at all after 100 meter-deep digging.

# 4: Concerns “Food Insecurity.” Agriculture is already difficult due to the shrinking water supply. Now we have extreme heat and increasingly salty soil. And with salty soil we cannot cultivate. I’m sure you know that.

# 5: “Desalinization of Water: Unsustainable.” Very unsustainable. Meanwhile, Dubai’s water is primarily human-made, I’m sure you all know that, through desalinization. The United Arab Emirates is the second largest user of desalinated water in the whole world. But desalinization plants use a lot, a lot, a lot of energy and emit a lot, a lot of carbon dioxide on top of that.

There are also other side effects. I’m going to tell you. They spew enormous quantities of hot brine and chemicals into the sea. This pollution accelerates the warming of the water while increasing its salinity. In fact, the Gulf’s salt concentration level increased by 40% in 30 years, creating an imbalance that threatens local flora and fauna. The general salt increase has another adverse effect, which is to make the desalinization plants work harder and harder and use more and more energy to purify the water. So, it is an unfortunate cycle, as you can see. Being dependent on desalinization also creates a water security risk, because it only takes one oil spill, one toxic algae bloom, or one big cyclone to halt the process immediately. That means we will have no water, and God knows for how long.

Now, we go to section #6 which is “Marine Pollution.” The Persian Gulf is a contained environment where pollutants can accumulate, some of which takes many years to disperse. These include more than one million barrels of oil spilled each year from oil leaks and accidents – and we’re drinking all that in – includes sewage discharge from other use, the households; includes harmful chemicals, including pesticides and phosphorus, heavy metals, such as mercury, copper, nickel, arsenic, lead, and many others. You see how we have to take all this, even though we are not aware?

Now, #7 which is “Overfishing.” Commercially fished species in the United Arab Emirates have declined an alarming 80% in 30 years! That means we have 80% less fish in your sea in the last 30 years. Only within 30 years, we depleted the fish population by 80%. My goodness.

Any of you know this? (I think we weren’t really aware of this particular issue at hand because, as I shared with You, we live in a kind of an illusion, that just because we just get ample amount of seafood, or when we go swimming, the water does not seem polluted so we just believe everything is fine.) Yes. You see, the problem is, much of these chemicals or pollutants that run into our water are not colorful, not especially significant so that we can even know what it is, or we can even see what it is. And even the chemicals or the pollutant, or the poison, even mercury for example, that goes into the fish that people consume, they’re colorless, tasteless. So, people don’t even know what they’re eating until they’ve fallen ill or die.

Now, these include many more that are unique to the region, many more species of marine life. Fish, that we don’t have anywhere else in the world, except in your region we have this. Such as Hammour, King Fish, Sea Bream, and Emperor Fish. In addition, you see, they’re all diminishing or maybe extinct already. These fish we cannot find anywhere, else except in your sea. Now they are going to be gone. In addition, the sheer excess of fishing vessels and fishing gear also lead to a huge by-catch and damage to even more species.

This is part of the global decline of marine life due to overfishing. It’s everywhere, not just in your country. Everywhere, marine life is declining, extinct, or going to be soon. Sooner than we can imagine. Oh! Even if you love fish, I am not sure how much longer you are going to have fish on your table. So please be prepared to have vegan food. That would be a very wise choice. (Well said, Supreme Master.) I’m sorry I have more news for you.

We go to issue #8, which is “Coral Reef and Other Marine Habitat Destruction.” Now, one-third of the fish in the Persian Gulf are supported by its coral reefs. However, the Persian Gulf coral reefs are now among the most endangered in the world. About 35% might have been already lost due to bleaching pollution from desalinization plants. And it will not stop if we continue to have desalinization plants. It will just increase the damage. But without desalinization plants, we have no water in your country. So, you see the trouble.

Effects from past wars in the region also add onto this problem. And also, ongoing mega construction projects, though they look beautiful, though they are an attraction to the locals as well as the tourists, they do cause a lot of damage to the environment. Now, for example, the building of large artificial islands in Dubai, which are really a masterpiece of architecture – I also am very impressed by it – but it has hugely damaged the Gulf’s coral reefs, mangrove trees, and sea grass ecosystems. Please forgive me for stating the true facts, because you need to know now.

# 9, we go to “Air Pollution.” Many of us now live in the cities and we cannot avoid the pollution, like the ozone smog, which takes away our health and sometimes even our precious lives. One in five Emirati children have asthma, and hundreds in the country lose their lives to pollution-related problems every year.

#10, we go to discuss the topic, which is in your heart today and which is the major theme of your Congress. That is “Animal-people Meat Consumption,” the subject that not many people want to talk about, even at the United Nations summit.

I’ll tell you what. Yesterday, I was at the meeting and the President of Mexico was advocating for lessening methane. And he said methane is caused by livestock raising. He knows all that, and he advocates for reducing it, even through the animal industry section. So, he’s well aware, and he’s not covering up anything like that. But he had a long speech, I don’t want to repeat his speech here. If you want, you can log onto the UN website and find out what he said. I’m just saying one little thing that I have observed.

One of the participants, she was from China, I think, she looked Chinese to me, and she spoke with a Chinese accent in English. She was mentioning about all the damage that the animal-people meat industry is causing to our world, the environment, the health of the people, the health of the children, and every other thing, etc., and even causing disasters in our world. And she was just mentioning it, I mean, really to the point, honest, and not trying to show off. She was just really very emotional and passionate about the animal-people meat issue, that she wanted to remind all the participants, and particularly the President of Mexico, to see how they would deal with this, how they would stop it, or how they would decide about the meat industry. Then, I heard that she was told not to talk anymore. Look. And the President also did not answer. Perhaps he was short of time, he had to leave. But, you know what I mean? (We can understand.)

We have to be honest and truthful about the main topic. We cannot run around in circles and avoid the animal-people meat industry question like we avoid a sore thumb or avoid a boil on our body, and “Don’t touch it! Don’t touch it!” We have to touch it in order to heal it. Especially, we know that it’s a very dangerous boil, which could affect our life, which could be fatal to our life, and even infect others, and even in this situation, infect the whole planet, could kill the whole world. Then, we have to touch that boil and let the doctor heal it. Or we heal it ourselves if we know how. And we do know how. We have technique, we have power. Each one of us can do this, just by being vegan.

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