Monday, March 4, 2013

Water... The Most Precious Resource

Photo: People Are Awesome

What is the world’s most precious resource?

Some might say oil. Others might tell you that it is energy. But the cold hard truth is that water is the world’s most precious resource… and we are in danger of losing it.

How can we be in danger of losing it when the earth is 70% water?

The truth is we are nearing a point of no return. Oceans, rivers, and lakes are contaminated every day. Many nations around the world struggle to find clean drinking water. The ocean has become a dumping ground for toxic waste, trash, and plastic.


[from How Stuff Works] “In the broad expanse of the northern Pacific Ocean, there exists the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a slowly moving, clockwise spiral of currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents. The area is an oceanic desert, filled with tiny phytoplankton but few big fish or mammals. Due to its lack of large fish and gentle breezes, fishermen, and sailors rarely travel through the gyre. But the area is filled with something besides plankton: trash, millions of pounds of it, most of it plastic. It's the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.

The gyre has actually given birth to two large masses of ever-accumulating trash, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, sometimes collectively called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California; scientists estimate its size as two times bigger than Texas.

The Western Garbage Patch forms east of Japan and west of Hawaii. Each swirling mass of refuse is massive and collects trash from all over the world. The patches are connected by a thin 6,000-mile long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone. Research flights showed that significant amounts of trash also accumulate in the Convergence Zone.

The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. But before we discuss those, it's important to look at the role of plastic. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans.”

Also consider…

[from Summit on the Summit] The global clean water crisis is arguably the most important cause of our time. There are still almost ONE BILLION people who do not have access to clean drinking water. The most affected of those people are children, who suffer every day from preventable waterborne illnesses. Take a moment to read some startling facts about this issue.

Water-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, taking the lives of 3.5 million people a year.
Unsafe water and lack of sanitation account for 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a preventable, water-related disease.
2.5 BILLION people live without basic sanitation, which directly results in unnecessary deaths among children.
Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time from the unsafe water they must consume to survive.
Approximately 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illness.
At any one time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne disease.
The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
It has been said that as many as 22 AFRICAN COUNTRIES FAIL to provide safe drinking water for at least ½ of their population. That would be equivalent to 150,570,000 people not having access to drinkable water in the United States.
Less than 1 percent of the world’s fresh water, or about .007 percent of all water on the Earth, is readily accessible for direct human use.
Currently, over half the states in the USA are facing serious drought conditions. Statistics like these are even more tragic because they are unnecessary.
Unless we act now, by 2025 the number of people without access to clean water could increase to 2.3 billion.


Photo: NY Times
[from] Drought can have serious health, social, economic, and political impacts with far-reaching consequences.
Water is one of the most essential commodities for human survival, second only to breathable air. So when there is a drought, which by definition means having too little water to meet current demands, conditions can become difficult or dangerous very quickly.
The consequences of drought may include:
Hunger and famine—Drought conditions often provide too little water to support food crops, through either natural precipitation or irrigation using reserve water supplies. The same problem affects grass and grain used to feed livestock and poultry. When drought undermines or destroys food sources, people go hungry. When the drought is severe and continues over a long period, famine may occur.
Thirst—All living things must have water to survive. People can live for weeks without food, but only a few days without water.
Disease—Drought often creates a lack of clean water for drinking, public sanitation, and personal hygiene, which can lead to a wide range of life-threatening diseases.
Wildfires—The low moisture and precipitation that often characterize droughts can quickly create hazardous conditions in forests and across range lands, setting the stage for wildfires that may cause injuries or deaths as well as extensive damage to property and already shrinking food supplies.
Social conflict and war—When a precious commodity like water is in short supply due to drought, and the lack of water creates a corresponding lack of food, people will compete—and eventually fight and kill—to secure enough water to survive.
Migration or relocation—Faced with the other impacts of drought, many people will flee a drought-stricken area in search of a new home with a better supply of water, enough food, and without the disease and conflict that were present in the place they are leaving.

What can be done?

Several organizations out there are working diligently on the crises. Organizations such as Surfrider,, Summit on the Summit, NOAA, the EPA, and Greenpeace try to raise awareness, pass legislation, and regulate. But is it enough?
No! It will take all of us, worldwide; to do our parts in protecting, preserving, and raising awareness to protect the world’s most valuable resource.

The next time you go for a swim, a surf session, or even drink a cool glass of water, think about how lucky you are to have this resource, and realize that it may not be here forever.

Get involved!