photo by ONE DROP Foundation (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

According to the World Water Council, the use of renewable water resources increased six times during the 20th century, while the global population only tripled. As the amount of people on Earth increases into the 21st century – some 40 to 50% over the next 50 years – industrialization and urbanization will likewise grow, putting more strain on the environment and on global fresh water resources. But much of the world already lacks an adequate water supply and sanitation conditions.

From the Pacific Institute:

That 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water is surely one of the greatest development failures of the modern era. That as many as 5 million people – mainly children – die every year from preventable, water-related disease is surely one of the great tragedies of our time.

National Geographic has a special series of reports, videos, essays, photography and much more providing a wealth of information relating to the global water crisis; and fresh water information in general on their freshwater website. For example, did you know that pharmaceuticals like antihistamines and antidepressants are now being found in disturbingly high levels in America’s freshwater fish? How about the fact that some 472 million people – mostly poor – have had their lives negatively impacted by the construction of dams? Or that producing just one pound (0.5kg) of beef requires 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water?

The Economist also features an informative special report on the global water crisis entitled ‘For want of a drink’, though I disagree with the author’s suggestion to ‘unleash the market on water-users and let the price mechanism bring supply and demand into balance’ made in a companion piece called ‘The world’s most valuable stuff’.

Water, something so fundamentally necessary for survival on a daily basis, should not be seen simply as a commodity, but rather as a basic right. If it’s used for luxuries, like filling swimming pools, then yes, it should be paid for. But the flow should be available to as many people as possible and not dictated by the nature of the capricious and greedy for-profit market. It isn’t radical to suggest that water should be controlled and supplied as democratically as possible, is it?

Additional resources:

ONE DROP Foundation

About The Author: Graham Land

Greenfudge editor and London-based writer Graham Land grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where he was part of the local hardcore punk scene, playing in several bands. Through this musical movement he became involved in grass roots interests such as anti-racist activism, animal rights and Ecology. In 2000 he relocated to Europe, eventually earning an MA from Malmö University in Sweden. He has also lived in Japan, Ireland, Portugal and Greece.


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