Dave Dietz, JD
We have heard much recently about the oil well break in the Gulf. And, no doubt about it, harm will be a consequence of this effort to access and gain oil. Still, most of this harm can be relatively temporary, even passing. The broken well will be fixed and the gush of oil escaping collection will be stopped. The environment damage, with human assistance, will repair (After all, oil naturally seeps into gulf and ocean waters constantly). Economic losses will end as the drillers, producers, consumers and taxpayers absorb costs or foot higher bills. Natural resource search and retrieval may be longer hurt as the politics of oil and oceans plays out.
Do we worry about oil spills, oil shortages, oil prices and more?
Sure, because we hear about these kinds of important – critical? – natural resource news items everyday.
Do we know and hear about all such natural resource news? No!
And that’s a media fault that may lead to human demise and death because we have a natural resource shortage looming that, if we are more properly alerted and educated about it at an early date, we – consumers, users, businesses and governments – might avoid its horrid consequences.
What’s this unknown, un-discussed natural resource shortage? Water. Why? Because water is a here-to-fore too little thought about, accessible, clean, available, abundant, necessary, potable, and useful resource becoming scarce from over use, misuse and pollution.
So fresh water – life’s essential resource – may soon dry-up. That’s an immediate, largely unacknowledged problem.
So let’s guzzle some world-wide fresh water availability and use facts. Ice, notwithstanding the global warming hoopla about ice melting from the rising temperatures we hear about, holds nearly seventy percent (70%) of the world’s fresh water. Most of the rest of the world’s fresh water is in aquifers which we today drain faster than the natural recharge rate. That’s a problem because two-thirds of our fresh water is used to grow food. And today we need more food and, hence, more water. Further, we’re adding 83 million more people to our earth each year. So the absolute truth is simple. Our world-wide and ever growing water demands of today will certainly increase, exacerbating the fresh water shortages already existing.
What about America’s water availability, maintenance and use?
America and Americans have liquid issues, too.
Some facts tell the story.
Americans use about 100 gallons of fresh water at home each day. To give perspective, millions of the world’s poorest people subsist on less than five gallons of water a day, with women in developing countries walking an average of 3.7 miles to get water. In fact, forty-six percent (46%) of people on earth do not have water piped to their homes, a rarity in America. And remember, in 15 years we expect 1.8 billion more people will live in regions of severe water scarcity. Parts of America will suffer, too. America has five great fresh water river systems – the Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi, Colorado and Columbia. Today, one of these great systems no longer reaches the sea.
Is that a problem? You judge. This water, wisely and fully used, supports millions of productive, comfortable human lives, enables score of thousands of businesses to fully flourish, helps healthily and inexpensively feed millions of folks annually and supports recreation from fishing to golf. So wise, full use of available water has clear benefit. Still …
The effects of water shortage are just as plain. One out of eight people lacks access to clean water. Today, 3.3 million people die every year from water-related health problems. Just know, washing hands with soap can reduce diarrhea disease by 45 percent (45%). And also know, remember, an eradication effort that includes a simple water filter has cut the number of guinea worm cases by 99.9 percent (99.9%) since 1986. These underdeveloped peoples’ current water borne realities are, again thanks to the press, largely unknown in modern America.
American earned prosperity permits wanted use of still largely abundant American fresh water. U.S. vacationers rank going to a beach or a lake as their favorite outdoor activity. More Americans today fish than play golf or tennis. The U.S. recreational boating industry was able to generate 33.6 billion dollars in 2008. In Florida, 3,000 gallons of fresh water are used to water the grass for each golf game played. U.S. swimming pools lose 150 billion gallons of water to natural evaporation processes every year.
Should America’s best-in-the-world life quality be burned-up because our freedoms, smarts and private, relatively free systems of enterprise have so far encouraged and permitted our smart use of a life necessary resource? I don’t think so.
America has great, hard earned wealth. Others, being human, want the same. Wealth, and life, depend on water’s wise use. Let’s get smarter, more productive, healthier and wealthier… with ever wiser use of water – beginning now.
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