25 May 2009

water wars

Water is one the most precious resources essential for life. It is the most adundant molecule on the Earth and constitutes 75% of the surface. This exact same percentage of water is also present in our bodies. Inspite of all the abundance of water, only a small percentage is actually fit for consumption. Water is also a non-renewable resource and something that everybody takes for granted.

Rainfall patterns altered by climate change and worsened by inequity in the water distribution system has led to a water crisis in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The local incident was one among many where a mob of about six people killed a family for illegally drawing water from the municipal supply even as onlookers rushed back and forth to collect water before the pipe ran dry.

The poorest areas are being affected the most because of inequitable water distribution. If this isn't a wake-up call of what water scarcity can do to a society, we're not sure what would be more effective, short of actual war. As outlined by the documentary Blue Gold: World Water Wars, issues like privatization, unfair distribution, pollution and ecological changes causing increased shortages are some of the major factors working against everyone having the water they need. India's troubles are, frighteningly enough, an illustration of what will escalate if all nations move slowly on changing the way we handle this vital resource.

Conserving water is something that we can all do. It is not even particularly hard. Water conservation is not only something that is crucially important, it should be come mandatory. In the developing world, 90% of all wastewater still goes untreated into local rivers and streams. Some 50 countries, with roughly a third of the world’s population, also suffer from medium or high water stress and 17 of these extract more water annually than is recharged through their natural water cycles. The strain not only affects surface freshwater bodies like rivers and lakes, but it also degrades groundwater resources. It is estimated that by 2050 water shortage world over will be so accutely felt that the wars of that generation will be over water and not oil.

Depletion of water not only affects day-to-day human activities but will also bring a stand-still to any kind of manufacturing process as well as agriculture. The importance of water is something that cannot merely be expressed by writing about it. It involves seeing the other side as well and being aware of the daily struggle some people go through to obtain what the rest of us take for granted. Water is not merely a commodity of the rich but it is an essential to life.

Some things you can do to conserve water and ensure healthy water supplies:
  • Limit your shower time and avoid baths
  • Do not leave water running when you shave or brush your teeth
  • Do not buy bottled water - it takes five litres of water to make one litre of bottled water
  • Find ways to reuse 'grey' water
  • Make sure you do not have any leaks in your pipes and appliances
  • Collect rainwater
  • Think about what eventually ends up in water systems and be responsible in your use of cosmetics - consider going organic with soaps, shampoos etc

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