This is a sustainability-oriented blog. Topics pertaining Energy Efficiency (EE), Telecommuting, Sustainable Health/Wellness, etc., but mainly focus on solutions to non-sustainable practices and trying to address means and methods for resolving them. Sustainability is something that we all have to do, sooner or later! (Low politico please!).
World Water Day can easily flooded past us without
most of us hearing a drop about it.!:-( And
why is that, you may be wondering? Or not… The problem with this, and most
things sustainability related, is where to start. And how do we put the critical sustainability
issue of water onto our daily radar screen.
Water, so critical to life can be devastating in its
absence. It can be devastating in abundance. Australia, plagued with decades of
drought, finally got rain in 2011: it had an area flooded the size of Germany
and France combined! This was followed
in February with Cyclone Yasi in the northeast. (A cyclone is the Pacific version of a hurricane… and, yes, they went
through the alphabet to get to Y.) We know a lot about hurricanes for two years
starting in 2004 giving us in Florida 3 or 4 per year including Katrina that
also hit New Orleans.
Then in the Winter of 2013-2014 we got snow, and
more snow (let’s call that a polar vortex). In the meantime Europe (England) got
drowned in rain.
But the quiet pain associated with water is very
easily preventable with very little money. More than 1 billion of our world’s
6.9B population have inadequate drinking water with an additional 1B having
inadequate sanitation. The result is that more than 3.5 million people die each
year because of easily preventable water-related diseases (World Health
Organization at www.WHO.int).
Approximately half of the world’s
hospital beds are taken by water and hygiene-related diseases (http://water.org/learn-about-the-water-crisis/facts/). [This should be updated, it has improved
Nexus of Energy with Water, Paper, Plastic and Transportation.
Few people realize how much water it takes to
produce energy. How much water to power a light bulb, for example? To power a
60 watt bulb 12 hours per day for a year? How about 3,000 to 6,000, depending
on the power source, it could be more or less. See here.
World Water Day was initiated to try to solve health
and wellness problems around the world where people have poor water and
sanitation. The UN has a 10 year program to attempt to overcome the pain and
death associated with inadequate water by 2015. Progress has been made, but it
WATER STATS: Most of
the earth’s surface (70%+) is water. Yet only about 2.5% is freshwater. (The
salt in oceans and some lakes make it unusable for drinking, agriculture, etc.
without expensive desalinization processing.) Of the world’s freshwater 68.7%
is in ice caps and glaciers, 30.1% is underground, ~1% is other, and barely
0.3% is fresh surface water! That’s about 0.009% of our total is fresh surface
water. Freshwater is lakes (87%), swamps (11%) and rivers (2%). So as we divert
and consume the fresh water available to us – taking from rivers and aquifers –
the impacts become ever greater as rivers dry and ancient aquifers are depleted.
This year the theme is Water & Energy. Most people don’t realize the Nexus of Water
Water Bubble and Water Wars
The water bubble may be coming faster
than we originally thought... Water sources, especially the invisible
underwater aquifers are being depleted.
This will show in increased prices for water, water shortages and food
shortages/prices (Marks, 2009). “We're fast draining the fresh water resources
our farms rely on, warns Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute”
(George, 2011). Our own Ogallala Aquifer in the high plans of the US (underground
aquifer from Texas through Wyoming) will be depleted in about 25 years. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogallala_Aquifer.).
wars and water conflicts are expected to increase dramatically. Counties (and
states) that are at the headwaters of rivers can take all the water and leave
nothing for the cities, farmers and fishermen below.
Worst case, and a horrible
example, is the Aral Sea. What used to be the world’s 4th largest
lake is now mostly dry, highly salty and toxically polluted. Russia has been consuming
the water that would have run downstream (and through) the former USSR state of
Kazakhstan. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aral_Sea
and the following news video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8b0svfuO_k
at Russia Today.)
The truth of the matter is... that water
Even in Florida where we are surrounded
What can we do?
Basically, we need to become more
informed about the sustainability impact of all we say and do. We need to
become more informed consumers of water. Maybe compute our water footprint.
Please fill out the H2O Footprint calculator.
We need to start conserving more water, more energy and more resource. (Recycling
actually saves huge amounts of energy and water.)
1)Compute your water footprint
(and take actions to reduce it):
2)The average American uses
2,000 gallons per day, more than twice the global average when all things are
considered. (Most of the statistics will show only about 1,000 gpd, but they
don’t include food, energy, etc.)