Saturday, 10 September 2011

Water

The ultimate element. In the most basic sense we need fire for warmth, earth to live and feed off and air to breathe, but waters different. The other three can easily coexist but water is the key to life. You only have to look at parts of the desert for proof of this. Baron lands, impossible for our species and many others to live on. 

I used to sit in the bath as a kid and just stare at the water, yes I was a freaky child but I found it fascinating. Have you ever really looked at water? It’s incredibly strange. At a first glance seems colourless but you only have to visit the ocean to realise it can easily reflect any colour it desires. No smell and very little taste but it is the essence of life. It can be contained, controlled and manipulated into any shape but it also has immense strength. Like all elements it has the power to wipe out our existence.

People don’t appreciate its true value. We fill up our bathtubs daily and leave taps running, wash clothes and chuck our rubbish in rivers. The water we drink, bathe in and waste is a finite resource*. Freshwater is being hugely exploited to meet the needs of the ever growing population. With almost 500,000 births a day and only 300,000 deaths our population is increasing at an astronomical rate. We have already outgrown our planet. On the subject of resources if we all consumed the same as Americans we would need 5 earths to sustain us. We don’t have five, we have one. And she is dying
 
The planet is 70% water, 3% is freshwater and only a third of that is actually available to us, the rest tied up in glaciers and ice-caps. Over a billion people on the planet are consuming dirty, contaminated water and we only have ourselves to blame. *Let me elaborate more on the term ‘finite’. The water we use in our daily lives is the same water that the ancient Greeks drank and the same water that the dinosaurs drank. There is the same amount of water on the planet now than when life as we know it came into existence. But it’s finite because the planet is finite. We are also contaminating it with human waste and rubbish. So the water cycle is being broken.

I’ve heard scientists say that in my lifetime water will be the most sort after commodity. Forget Oil and Gold, it will be freshwater that will be fought after.  As for the argument of Desalination ‘the conversion of saltwater into freshwater’ this is not a long term solution. Large-scale desalination typically uses extremely large amounts of energy as well as specialized, expensive infrastructure, making it very costly. Again energy that is created from more finite resources in the form of oil and coal.

There is only one solution. Cutting down the number of people. I’m not saying get the nuclear weapons out and press the big red button. But if we don’t cut down our population soon, and I’m talking in the next century there won’t be a planet to live on.

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