Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Water

You might have noticed that in the last 24 hours I have posted two videos about water.  Over the life of this blog I have talked about water usage and other water related issue a fair amount.  Just in the last couple of months: in my epic canning post I talk about how water intensive canning can be and in my post about NYC Water (which also includes the wonderful video The Story of Bottled Water) I talk a little bit about how lucky New Yorkers are to have such tasty and abundant water available to us.

The reason for all the water talk is that today is's annual international Blog Action Day and the theme of this years action is water.  Clean, potable water should be available for free to everyone, everywhere.

One of the funny things about living in New York is that even though we are surrounded by water it is so easy to forget it's even there.  Most of our waterfront during the time I have lived here has been inaccessible because of highways.  This is thankfully changing, not that the highways are going way (drats) but because the city is making waterfront parks, bike paths and other water focused interaction a priority.  To me this is a perfect example of how we think about water, or more to the point how we don't think about it: we just take it for granted.  It's all around us and when we need it, it is a toilet flush or knob turn away.

We are so incredibly lucky and privileged to be able to have such access to this vital resource.  It's long past time we started working to make this a reality for all people all over the planet.

Almost a billion people on this planet do not have access to clean, safe drinking water.

You can help change that by signing the petition.

Below is a wealth of information about our world our water from

In particular I encourage you to check out the links in the Water Solutions section to see what else you can do after you have signed the petition.

  • 40 Billion Hours: 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. More Info »
  • 38,000 Children a Week: Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions. More Info »
  • Wars Over Water: 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. More Info »
  • A Human Right: In July, to address the water crisis, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right over. But we are far from implementing solutions to secure basic access to safe drinking water. More Info »
Water over-consumption in industrialized countries:
While the developing world faces a water crisis, those in industrialized countries consume far more than their fair share.
  • Food Footprint: It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe. More Info »
  • Technology Footprint: The shiny new iPhone in your pocket requires half a liter of water to charge. That may not seem like much, but with over 80 million active iPhones in the world, that's 40 million liters to charge those alone. More Info »
  • Fashion Footprint: That cotton t-shirt you're wearing right now took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and your jeans required an extra 6,813 liters. More Info »
  • Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. More Info »
Water and the environment:
The disregard for water resources in industrialized countries impacts more than humans – it causes environmental devastation.
  • Waste Overflow: 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. More Info »
  • Polluted Oceans: Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year. More Info »
  • Uninhabitable Rivers: Today, 40% of America's rivers and 46% of America's lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life. More Info »
Water solutions:
The good news is that there are great organizations working on solutions and new tools that empower people to do their part to address the water crisis.
  • Building Wells: Organizations like and charity: water are leading the charge in bringing fresh water to communities in the developing world.
  • Technology for Good: Do you want to measure how much water it took to make your favorite foods? There's an app for that. More Info »
  • Conservation Starts at Home: The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. Find out how much you use and challenge your readers to do that same. More Info »
  • Keeping Rivers Clean: We can all take small steps to help keep pollution out of our rivers and streams, like correctly disposing of household wastes. More Info »
  • Drop the Bottle: Communities around the world are taking steps to reduce water bottle waste by eliminating bottled water. More Info »

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