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Sustainable Earth: Water

Clean water is essential for life, but most people in the developed world don’t think much about the water they use for drinking, food preparation, and sanitation. In developing nations, however, the search for safe drinking water can be a daily crisis. Millions of people die each year, most of them children, from largely preventable diseases caused by a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation.

Children play and bathe in an irrigation water tank for rice fields in Punjab, India.

Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and the National Geographic Society’s freshwater fellow, said freshwater scarcity presents a growing problem to be addressed during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil from June 20 to 22. “It manifests itself in the depletion of groundwater, and the drying up of rivers and lakes upon which people depend for irrigation to grow their food,” she said. “The intersection of water scarcity, food security, and a changing climate on top of it all raises a suite of water concerns that urgently need to be addressed.” Read more

This Small Island Nation Makes a Big Case For Protecting Our Oceans

It stands to reason that if you protect the ocean, ecosystems will thrive. Now, scientists have hard data to back up that logical assumption, thanks to a sweeping study of marine reserves in the island nation of Palau.

The Pristine Seas team surveyed a lake harboring millions of jellyfish Palau’s greatest tourist attraction.

Nearly two years ago, Palau officially designated 193,000 square miles of its maritime territory as a fully protected marine reserve, where no fishing or mining can take place. The reserve became the sixth-largest of its kind in the world—while the island of Palau is smaller than New York City, its marine protected area became larger than the state of California.

In a statement made at the time, Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau, Jr., said the move was essential to conserving the island’s livelihood: “Island communities have been among the hardest hit by the threats facing the ocean. Creating this sanctuary is a bold move that the people of Palau recognize as essential to our survival.” Read more

Is the world running out of fresh water?

26The next time you open a can of soft drink, consider where the water inside it came from. The H20 in an Indian can of Coca-Cola includes treated rainwater, while the contents in the Maldives may once have been seawater. The water needs to come from such different sources for a reason – it’s because there is a global freshwater crisis.

Earth’s glaciers and ice caps lock away over 68% of its freshwater supply, but scientists believe climate change accounts for their recent, rapid melting

Given that 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, and that volume remains constant (at 1,386,000,000 cubic kilometres), how is a water shortage even possible? Well, 97.5% is seawater unfit for human consumption. And both populations and temperatures are ever-rising, meaning that the freshwater we do have is under severe pressure.

Water demand globally is projected to increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050. Much of the demand is driven by agriculture, which accounts for 70% of global freshwater use, and food production will need to grow by 69% by 2035 to feed the growing population. Water withdrawal for energy, used for cooling power stations, is also expected to increase by over 20%. In other words, the near future presents one big freshwater drain after the next. Read more

Weirdest ways to clean your water

Water is the essence of life.

Between 6-8 million people die each year from diseases related to water or natural disasters caused by water. This week is World Water Week and Global Citizen is taking a “deeper dive” into exploring just how important access to clean water can be. But first, I want to talk about some innovative and some just plain weird ways to clean contaminated water.

Microorganisms and parasites lurk in potentially clean water sources, making them unsafe. But if no other water sources exist, then a way around this has to be found. You have probably heard of certain methods for cleaning water like using Iodine tablets for disinfection or filtration. Even those methods are strange to someone who has all-you-can-drink tap water.. But here are some others that are even more bizarre.   Read more

The Planet Will Face Major Water Shortages by 2050, UN Chief Warns

“Water, peace and security are inextricably linked.”

As humanity adds nearly 2.5 billion more people by 2050, demand for water will rise by around 40% globally, according to the UN.

At the same time, mismanagement of resources, rampant pollution, and climate change are straining existing water sources to breaking points.

If current trends continue, then the world could face catastrophic water shortages by 2050, which could lead — as it has so many times in the past — to conflict, the UN warned in a new report.

“Water, peace and security are inextricably linked,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday. “Without effective management of our water resources, we risk intensified disputes between communities and sectors and increased tensions among nations.” Read more