Water We Going To Do?

28 05 2007

water

By Jill Ettinger

As some of us sip champagne with breakfast, others have barely anything to eat, let alone sip. Of the 6.6 billion humans on Earth, 1.2 billion do not have access to safe drinking water.  That’s close to 20% of the population – or 1 out of every 5 of us, a number that’s unfortunately growing.

Between 1900 and 1995 the demand for safe drinking water increased sixfold – more than twice the rate of the concurrent population growth. According to research conducted by the UN based on water consumption trends, in less than 25 years, five billion people will be facing conditions where it is extremely difficult to access fresh drinking water. (One wonders if science has begun looking into ways of adding camel genes to human DNA.) By 2028, the world population is expected to surpass eight billion; inevitably more than half the people on the planet will be holding a paddle without a creek. Something this inescapably traumatic has not happened with this amount of foresight in human history. We’re talking about the most critical ingredient for survival besides air (also in questionable standing thanks to pollution and global warming) becoming virtually unavailable to more than half the world.

When the influenza pandemic of 1918 spread rapidly around the globe in the midst of a world war, killing between 20-40 million people, it probably seemed as if nothing more devastating could happen. To date it is commonly referred to as the single most ruinous episode resulting in massive deaths outside of genocide. Reading this startling info compiled by Stanford University, the thought comes to mind that this is a only snippet of what we face as our increasing population coupled with our environmental disregard concretizes a waterless future:

The pandemic affected everyone. With one-quarter of the US and one-fifth of the world infected with the influenza, it was impossible to escape from the illness. Even President Woodrow Wilson suffered from the flu in early 1919 while negotiating the crucial treaty of Versailles to end the World War (Tice). Those who were lucky enough to avoid infection had to deal with the public health ordinances to restrain the spread of the disease. The public health departments distributed gauze masks to be worn in public. Stores could not hold sales, funerals were limited to 15 minutes. Some towns required a signed certificate to enter and railroads would not accept passengers without them. Those who ignored the flu ordinances had to pay steep fines enforced by extra officers (Deseret News). Bodies pilled up as the massive deaths of the epidemic ensued. Besides the lack of health care workers and medical supplies, there was a shortage of coffins, morticians and gravediggers (Knox). The conditions in 1918 were not so far removed from the Black Death in the era of the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages.

As leading environmentalists and scientists continue portending the dry and drier world just around the corner, it’s startling to stumble upon a seven-page article discussing our recycling inadequacies, and more embarrassingly, our security-blanket-like dependency on bottled water. Perhaps it is the subconscious nod to the crises we’re quickly approaching, clinging to these PET encased drops of precious liquid before they vanish, for good.

Are we capable of taking steps towards solutions? Is recycling really even an issue at this point? Where is our water education program? Are schools teaching conservation tips? Do people know what grey water is and how to use it? Do people realize eating high water content fruits and vegetables like watermelon, citrus and cucumbers can help keep us hydrated, reducing our intake of drinking water? Discussing the redemption rates of 5-10¢ for recycling vessels destined to remain empty seems a dialogue of distractions. But perhaps that’s precisely the point though. Let’s drown ourselves in non-issues before the unavoidable flood washes us bone-dry.

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One response

30 05 2007
jill

came across this really startling article on Nestle’s water domination this morning. http://www.alternet.org/environment/52526/ totally insane.

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