Our lifeline: let’s look at it again!
My dear Children,
I want to talk to you about something that we all need for our very survival, something we think we have plenty of, but yet something that truly is disappearing fast.
We drink it, bathe in it, and play in it to cool down on a hot summer day. It is used for everything we need to survive. From growing food, to building our homes and sustaining our lives, no life on our Earth can exist without it.
Yes, I am talking about our lifeline: Water.
In the developed world, we take our precious gift of water for granted.We waste it, and we even pay money for the convenience of drinking it from little plastic bottles! And still today, nearly 1 billion people in the developing world do not have easy access to it.
Clean, safe drinking water is in very short supply. Water is the foundation of life, a basic human need, yet all around the world, far too many people spend their entire day searching for it.
And water is disappearing slowly for the rest of us as well.
You might say but 70% of the earth is covered by water. So, why is it scarce and depleting? Isn’t fresh water a renewable resource which is returned to earth every time it rains?
Yes, but dear children, most of that 70% consists of the oceans and the seas which are salt water. The fresh water that is usable to humans is only 3% of the total water on earth, of which only a small fraction is found on the surface or above ground water. And that supply of clean, fresh water is steadily decreasing.
Let us look at the main factors that are causing a great stress on water resources around the world.
The population of the earth keeps expanding. We humans are becoming more in number which means more people must be fed. The agriculture industry consumes most of the fresh water that exists on earth which rapidly depletes the existing supply of fresh water.
As the human race continues to develop, more industries need and consume water to make all the things we want. The more complex our lifestyle becomes, the more water we consume. For example just one To-Go coffee requires 53 gallons of water to make a single cup! Think of it: the sugar first has to be grown as a sugar cane. Then there’s that plastic lid which has to be created at a factory then distributed perhaps hundreds of miles to the store. Plastic requires vast amounts of water and oil to produce. And then there’s the sleeve and the cup itself too. Even a small 12 ounce bottle of water requires almost 2 gallons of fresh water in the factory just to produce the bottle!
Deforestation of the land continues at an alarming rate. In order to meet the ever growing demand for wood and paper production, and more significantly, to make room for cattle grazing for the meat industry, most of the forests of the world have been drastically cut down. A loss of trees causes a phenomenon known as desertification whereby the land slowly becomes dry and arid like a desert because of loss of rain and soil erosion.
A vast amount of surface and ground water is becoming polluted and unusable for human use. The main reason especially in underdeveloped countries is the discharge of raw sewage into natural waters. Sewage, sludge, garbage, and toxic pollutants from agriculture run-off and other industries find their way into all the sources of fresh water making it unsafe for human consumption.
So, all these things mean that there is more demand on clean water than the surface water can provide. In countries where the population is much higher than others such as India and China, people and industries have dug into the underground water supplies known as the aquifers and those supplies are fast diminishing as well.
In many countries of the world, lack of safe clean water to drink (also known as potable water) causes hunger, starvation and death. Absence of potable water is one of the leading causes of death worldwide especially for children under age five. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
So what can you do, right here, right now to help?
First, be aware that what you do where you live can and will affect another child or grownup halfway around the world. You can see that we all are connected in the same way in that we have limited natural resources to share.
Think of the world’s water supply as a single tank with several outlets; some fat holes and other places just a few pin holes. Just because someone may live near a fat hole does not give that person the privilege to drain the supply and deprive billions of other people who live near only pin holes. Women in some countries must walk up to 5 miles everyday just to fetch 2 buckets of water for cooking and drinking.
Once you realize that there are many things you can do in your capacity, you can make a huge difference. Here are my top few ideas for you. These are some of the things we do at our home.
Watch your water footprint – Turn off that faucet while brushing your teeth. The average faucet flows water at a rate of two gallons per minute. Cut down your shower to less than 5 minutes. Every minute in shower uses up to 5 gallons of water. Know the water footprint of the foods you consume. Did you know that each hamburger needs about 1000 gallons of water to be produced, for cattle’s food and drink, and to process the meat as compared to a banana which takes about 25?
Convince your parents to take measures so the household water is not wasted. These include things like growing native shrubs & trees instead of big grassy lawns, loading up the dishwashers and laundry machine to their full capacity before use, installing low-flow flushes and shower heads, and fixing leaky faucets. How many more can you think of? Each one makes a big difference!
Watch what you put into your water. Most sewage water is treated and returned to the water supply but the chemicals you put into water do not go away. Many community’s drinking water supply has been increasingly testing positive for harmful chemicals. Use only organic or biodegradable soaps, shampoos, housecleaning supplies, and laundry and dishwashing detergents. Never dump unused medications and chemicals into the water. Remember- what goes in comes back around to you.
Just like our Gurus did and taught us, I hope you will now look at water, the lifeline of the creation in a more conscious way.
If you are ready to move your efforts up a notch to solve the water problem globally, you can help provide clean safe water to many people in the world by participating in one of the many projects. Here is one for example, but you should do you own research and see how you want to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate people.
Interested in more green thoughts by Gurmeet Aunty ?
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