Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Water!

An old adage in California politics, dating back at least 150 years, is, "In California whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting." And, indeed, battles between the northern, water-rich mountain regions of the state, and the arid, desert south have shaped our politics, and our maps, with laws pitting agriculture against industry, and a massive system of aqueducts crossing the landscapes. But California's water situation is nothing compared to that faced in much of the world.

Just a few statistics to begin to paint the picture:
  • African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.
  • Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.
  • Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa.
  • Every day, 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in water sources. This not only negatively impacts the environment but also harms the health of surrounding communities.
  • The problem is not just in the "Third World" - Today, 40% of America's rivers and 46% of America's lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.
  • The problem is not just "other people's" issue - The cotton t-shirt I'm wearing right now took 1,514 liters of water to produce.
  • The iPhone sitting on my desk is currently using half a liter of water to charge up for the day. Multiply that by over 80 million active iPhones in the world, and that's 40 million liters.
What can we do about this?
  • Be aware of our water footprint; think of ways you can conserve.
  • Donate to a charity that's building clean-water wells in Africa.
  • Educate yourself and your community about the issues.
  • Volunteer to clean a local stream; be aware of your effect on your local watershed.
  • Click the widget below to sign a petition to the U.N.
For a related post, please see my recap of a presentation by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the topic of Crimes Against Nature (April 2009).

Petitions by|Start a Petition »


  1. Wow Ken - great topic with clear and concise facts. Easy examples of why and how to conserve. Well said. Thank you.

  2. A subject i care about deeply. You are right we have so much to be grateful for on this continent. Its hard to watch our Earth be constantly stepped on in the name of progress. Watch the movie Gasland for another perspective that you wont be able to forget. A great site I slept all Friday night and now im up at 4:28 am drinking filtered tap water. I didnt even have to walk 4 miles to get it. Grateful, yet still appalled at what we humans have done to our natural resources on this planet. Great blog and thanks for letting me chime in. - Cookie


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