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Water and people

[ by Charles Cameron — and then of course there are animals and plants, too, and wildfires, and the Grand Canyon ]

Just a couple of things to think about:


  • More than half of the world’s population lives inside this circle

    Even more mindblowing: said circle is mostly water.

  • All of the World’s Water

    Spheres showing:
    (1) All water (sphere over western U.S., 860 miles in diameter)
    (2) Fresh liquid water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles in diameter), and
    (3) Fresh-water lakes and rivers (sphere over Georgia, 34.9 miles in diameter).

  • In the lower panel, the “all water” sphere is obvious, the “fresh liquid” sphere is visible, but the “freshwater lakes and rivers” — did you even notice it?


    Some paras I wrote for John Petersen while at The Arlington Institute around the turn of the millennium:

    Water is our most precious resource. Our bodies are largely made of it; we thirst for it, and die when it is withheld more rapidly than we die for lack of food; and our food itself — whether animal or plant — also relies on it for nourishment and survival. Not surprisingly, water features in religious scripture and poetic mythology as among the highest symbols of purity and blessing: the Psalmist declares “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God” (Psalms 46: 4), Jesus in the New Testament speaks of his own teachings as “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14), while Allah declares in the Koran, “We made from water every living thing” (Al-Anbiyáa 30). For Lao-tzu in the Tao te ching, it is the analog of wisdom: “In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water,” he writes, “yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.”

    We consume water in ever increasing amounts, while polluting it as though its very purity was a reproach to us – and simultaneously beginning to recognize that this most precious of resources is just that – a limited, physical resource that we are squandering. Such significant indicators of hydrologic activity as , salinity, sea levels, snowmelt, glacial melt, and rainfall are not merely changing but accelerating their rates of change. We are fast running our of fresh water to drink and to irrigate our crops. And when World Bank vice president Ismail Serageldin declared in 1995 that “The wars of the next century will be over water”, he was giving advanced notice of a looming problem which we overlook at our peril.

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