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.

conference-waterSandra 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

Are there oceans on other planets?

Earth is the only known planet to have bodies of liquid water on its surface.


Europa is thought to have subsurface liquid water. Scientists hypothesize that Europa’s hidden ocean is salty, tidal, and causes its ice surface to move, resulting in large fractures which are clearly visible in the above image. Although Europa is thought to have the ingredients needed to support life — water, energy, organic compounds — it lies outside of our solar system’s habitable zone.

Currently, Earth is the only known planet (or moon) to have consistent, stable bodies of liquid water on its surface. In our solar system, Earth orbits around the sun in an area called the habitable zone. The temperature, along with an ample amount of atmospheric pressure within this zone, allows water to be liquid for long periods of time. Read more

Think Ocean Water is Gross? Sand Is Way Grosser

Some people like to stick to the sand when they go to the beach. The ocean can harbor sewage-related fecal contamination and a random infectious bacteria infestation or two. But it turns out that those who stay beach-side are actually making the more disgusting choice. New research shows that sand can be even more contaminated than ocean water.

001Chemists from the University of Hawaii recently learned that levels of fecal bacteria in beach sand can be up to 100 times higher than in the water nearby. And, being scientists, they immediately set out to discover why. Their task was more daunting than they initially thought: a majority of studies on marine beach bacteria have taken place in water, not sand. Read more

How to take the pressure off the cost of our water supply

For most people in the developed world, getting access to clean drinking water is as simple as turning on a tap. Would that paying for water were so simple. But when we think about the water we consume, few of us realise that as much as 80% of its cost is associated with electricity use – a figure that’s as high in Britain as in drought-prone California.

howtotaketheIt is surprising, then, that the energy argument rarely features in discussions about preserving water. Yes, water is itself a valuable and vulnerable resource. But when we wash our clothes, have a shower or simply rinse a mug, we should also keep in mind that energy is going down the drain. Let’s talk about our water future alongside our energy future. Read more

The 5 Craziest Cruise Ship Water Slides

carnival-speedway-splashIf you’re the type of cruiser whose daytime entertainment needs to go beyond a dip in the pool, then you’ll want to take note of these five adrenaline-pumping water rides. Complete with twists, turns, drops — even some surprises! — these slides can add some excitement to your sea day, and make you feel like a kid again:

1. AquaDuck

Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, Disney Cruise Line

Located on Deck 12, this water slide is dubbed an “aqua coaster” due to its roller coasterlike warren of twists and drops. As you ride through the 765-foot course, you can take in views high above the ocean until your single or double raft drops into the lazy river at the end. Read more