For almost a month, I’ve been out of my office on a combination of vacation and work travel, so I admit that this blog has seemed a neglected alleyway off of the information superhighway. Well, there is nothing like a highly publicized, United Nations sponsored “Day” (with a capital “D”) to bring H2ONCoast back on-line.
Since 1993, the UN and a host of government agencies (such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), non-governmental organizations (such as Water For Life), and corporate entities (such as PepsiCo) have been marking March 22nd as World Water Day. This year’s theme could not be more important: “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” Today’s theme reminds us that water quantity is not the only issue–quality is another ever more vexing one. Every drop of pollution to the world’s freshwater supplies leads to less water available overall, and ultimately to greater water stress for the people of the planet.
This might seem pretty obvious, but consider this: of all of the world’s freshwater, less than 1% is immediately available for our use as fresh water. And that water is not distributed evenly; nearly 1 billion people worldwide live with constant scarcity. For example, as much as 50% of China is now deep into three years of drought that has reduced drinking water supplies by as much as 75% in some communities. For an excellent rundown of the last month’s news on water–and a fitting place to visit for World Water Day, I recommend Circle of Blue’s excellent water news roundup. The sweep of politics, economics, science and technology behind the world of water that most of us take for granted is pretty stunning to me, at least.
Lastly, to commemorate World Water Day, I cannot recommend enough a look at the photos just published on-line by the National Geographic Society. To me, these truly symbolize the power, promise and peril of our watery–and changing–world. You can check them out at the Boston Globe’s on-line presence. Their April 2010 edition will be devoted solely to water.