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Water, Water, Anywhere?

Aug 28, 2008
If I were King of the Forest, the first thing I would do is to make sure everyone had a clean drink of water when they wanted one. After water comes enough to eat and after that comes an education sufficient to provide each of us with the tools and the maturity to be all that we want to be.

But first comes water, a top priority for just about all life on the planet. And the fact that 2.5 billion people—almost half the population—do not have access to clean water is a disgrace to our species. Over a sixth of the world’s population still defecate in the open—the riskiest sanitation practice of all.

A million and a half children die every year from diarrhoeal diseases, directly attributable to a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation.

In this International Year of Sanitation, two reports on the state of the world’s water make stark reading.

Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation (zipped .pdf)
This report, a joint effort of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), details global progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for drinking water and sanitation. Only 62 percent of the world’s population have access to a level of sanitation that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact. It looks now like we will miss the MDG sanitation goal for 2015 by over 700 million people.
Climate Change and Water (.pdf)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which brought us the painstakingly scientific assessment reports on global warming, produced this report on the relationship between climate change and freshwater resources. In brief, as we continue to drag our feet on mitigation of the former, our freshwater resources will continue to deterioriate, often in unpredictable ways. Precipitation is growing in higher latitudes and shrinking in areas surrounding the equator. In the former, heavier rainfalls will increase flooding and, in the latter, droughts will become more common. As the climate warms, glaciers melt, raising sea levels, and there is less seasonal runoff from shrinking snow caps at high elevations, threatening the fresh water supply for the more than one-sixth of the world population who live there. A disrupted global water system will impact many other areas, including energy, health, food security, and nature conservation. Water disputes, internal and international, which are already common, could easily turn into wars.
Water is the “stuff” of life. “River” and “Rivalry” share the same root, and geography teaches us that freedom and its most cherished attributes flourish best where clean water is plentiful.1

Water: First. Water: Clean. Water: Now.
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1Water dispute, in Wikipedia (Accessed August 23, 2008)
tags: Water | Health | Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming

Read WHO’s Press Release on Its Report

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