Global relevance of water conservation and ideas for taking action today.
The importance of conserving natural resources is a no-brainer. It’s preached in elementary school, publicized artfully in magazines and solicited on the street by people wearing polyester vests and carrying clipboards. Whether by tragedy of the commons or brazen disregard, it doesn’t seem like the message is being delivered.
Regardless, climate change very real and our fresh water sources are dwindling. Sweeping wildfires, desertification, habitat destruction, food insecurity, hydro politics: planetary blue gold is in peril. According to the U.N. Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA): “Water use [worldwide] has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century”.
Take the example of climate change in California (United States leader in population, economic activity, and agricultural value): “Human emissions have increased the probability that low-precipitation years are also warm — suggesting that anthropogenic warming is increasing the probability of the co-occurring warm-dry conditions that have created the current California drought”.
The 2016 World Water Development Report claims that water shortages and limited access will radically affect economic growth, given that an estimated half of the global workforce is employed in industries dependent on water and natural resources.
Today, 40% of the world’s population has insufficient fresh water for minimal hygiene and the WWF estimates that by 2025 “two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages”. It’s indisputable that most people in first world countries take fresh water access for granted. What flows freely in your home now most likely will be limited or revoked in the future. Every person needs to be aware of simple and effective methods to save and reduce water use.
1. Gray Water — Harvest your shower water by placing a bin in the tub while you shower, or stop the drain and bail out after you’re finished (this also serves as a lesson to how much water would be going down the drain!). Use the water for toilet flushes or to pre-funk dishes.
2. Faucet Aerator — Cheap and effective. This tiny little device is easily installed onto any faucet and saves hundreds of gallons of water per year by reducing water pressure.
3. Leaks — Take leaks seriously. A little goes a long way. If you don’t know how to fix a leak, then YouTube it or bake cookies for someone who does.
4. Be Resourceful — Turn off the faucet while you soap up dishes, brush your teeth or shave. Reserve pasta cooking water. Fully load the laundry machine and dishwasher.
5. Broader Senses — Water purification is energy intensive. Almost every life process requires water and that includes production and transportation. Sustainability efforts have in no way been able to combat the rapid worldwide consumption of natural resources. Eating and shopping locally is a great habit, and children should be shown how to help care for our planet.
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