Water: Get to Know It, Then Conserve It

Water. Some folks have it. Too many people don’t. The typical human body is made up of 66 percent water and could survive roughly a month without food–but only a week without water. The 2004 UNICEF report on the State of the World’s Children found that one in seven of the world’s children had no access to safe water.

It’s not exactly a shortage…there is the same amount of water on Earth today as there was 3 billion years ago. “Not only is there the same amount of water on the Earth today as there was at the creation of the planet, it’s the same water,” write activists Tony Clarke and Maude Barlow write in Yes Magazine. “The next time you’re walking in the rain, stop and think that some of the water falling on you ran through the blood of dinosaurs or swelled the tears of children who lived thousands of years ago.”

Then what’s the problem? Only 3 percent of the Earth’s total water is freshwater. Of that, only 1 percent is available for human consumption. Do the math and you’ve a grand total of 0.01 percent of the Earth’s total water being usable. Still, as reported by the New Internationalist, “Even this would be enough to support the world’s population three times over, if used with care.” Care…?

“The growing scarcity of potable water stems from a variety of causes,” Clarke and Barlow write. “Per capita water consumption is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth, which itself is exploding. Technology and sanitation systems, particularly those in the wealthy industrialized nations, have encouraged people to use far more water than they need.”

Such “personal water use” accounts for 10 percent of water use. Another 20 to 25 percent of the world’s fresh water supplies is used by industry. But, as Clarke and Barlowin explain, “the real water hog, claiming 65 to 70 percent of all water used by humans” is irrigation. “Increasing amounts of irrigation water are used for industrial farming,” they write.

Case in point: One pound of hamburger requires 2,500 gallons of water, which could instead have been used to grow more than 50 pounds of fruits and vegetables. Fifty percent of all water consumed in the U.S. is used to grow feed and provide drinking water for cattle and other livestock.

“In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival,” Rachel Carson wrote some four decades ago, “water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.”

What can you do?

Read how to catch rain water with rain barrels and about smart water management. And help prevent water pollution from mountaintop removal mining.

WATCH VIDEO: Blue August: Water Connects All Of Us

32 comments

Prochi T.
Prochi T7 years ago

This message should go Worldwide.

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Loesje v.
Loesje Najoan8 years ago

Let's use water with care....

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Claudia L.
Claudia L.8 years ago

very timely

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Erin R.
Erin R8 years ago

great info

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Tomoko Harris
Tomoko Harris8 years ago

I do my part - use less water when washing my hands or dishes, taking "Navy" showers, going longer between car washes.

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Mervi R.
Mervi R8 years ago

Great points, yet another great reason to go vegan!

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gerlinde p.
gerlinde p8 years ago

very interesting thankyoui try to save water whereever i can.

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Joy Lynn Spencer
lilsayyyy m8 years ago

Amazing article! Water is one of the most miraclulous, goreous substances on earth!

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Ira P.
Ira P8 years ago

thanks!!! everyone must care and have an idea how to reduce the consumption of the water

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Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W8 years ago

Very interesting, thank you!

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