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Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Water

Today is Blog Action Day 2010. Last year's participants were given a list of topics to vote on, and we chose water for this year's topic. The topics were all important, but as the 21st century unfolds and access to water is already a crisis in so many places, water promises to be a serious subject for years to come.

I'm participating today to help raise awareness. The Blog Action Day people sent a few facts, which I'll quote. I've added my own italics:

  1. Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.
  2. More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.
  3. Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.
  4. It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.
  5. The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.
While these facts may be grim, there is hope for real solutions as more and more people around the world are waking up to the clean water crisis. Earlier this year, the UN declared access to clean water a human right and groups like charity: water and Water.org continue to work tirelessly to bring water access to the developing world. 
Thanks for reading. We're a global economy now, a global community, and it's time to think of ourselves in context with the rest of the world.

Update: Pertinent to #3, here's something interesting that Dina found: the Q Drum, a rolling water container.

21 comments:

Parisian Heart said...

Lovely photo, Petrea! I especially love the way light falls in it. I also appreciate the facts about water; they are striking.

Dina said...

A good picture to put us in the mood for worrying about the water situation.
Thanks for the hard facts.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Elegant photo and thought-provoking message today, Petrea.

Shell Sherree said...

That photo is sensational, Petrea. And a fine accompaniment to this important message. Such a vital issue ~ and wonderful to see bloggers participating to raise awareness.

altadenahiker said...

I knew I was going to enjoy visiting my usuals and seeing how each, uniquely, dealt with the topic.

I think I know where this photo was taken. It looks part moonscape, but everything sparkles.

Trish said...

my grandfather dedicated his life to making sure we have clean drinking water here in the US and in several other countries...this post reminds me of his work and how much more still needs to be done. I often smirk when the water saving tips come out---all things I've been doing all my life---like not letting the water run---for any reason---brushing teeth, doing dishes, washing the car...just wish more would tag along this ride. thanks for the reminder!

Petrea said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'm glad to know people care about this issue.

Hello, Parisian Heart, nice to see you!

Dina, I'll add to the post the info that you emailed. This seems like a way people like you and I can help right now.

Thank you, Genie. Thank you, Shell. I know you both, like Dina, know what drought feels like.

Yes, you'd recognize the spot, Hiker, though it's dry now. I took the shot in January.

Trish, these are things I always do, too. And I learned that it's actually a water saver to take your car to a public car wash because they reuse their water! (My excuse for being lazy.)

Thanks for your responses, everyone. If you check out the Blog Action Day Website (link in my post), you'll see posts from all over the world, including the White House Blog.

pasadenapio said...

It's an issue that affects people all over the world. The public health impacts are enormous.

There's a greater awareness of the need to conserve water, but we have a long way to go.

My son-in-law John Luecht in San Diego posted a spectacular photo on Facebook yesterday that he shot with his phone at Scripps Pier in La Jolla.

Petrea, I responded to your question about the Mystery History reveal on my blog.

Kat said...

when I was in India a few months ago, I met some American engineers who are consulting with the Indian government on water/sanitation/conservation issues and building new infrastructure. The thing they said that amazed me is that, in their opinion, in most places in the U.S. the water infrastructure is in such a bad state, and nearing collapse-- that it's worse than in most third world countries. And that's largely because 3rd world countries are focussing on this issue, creating infrastructure and building in the kind of conservation techniques that are becoming so critical today. The U.S. is just ignoring the fact that we have not been updating and repairing our water system, and pretending its not a crisis. After all-- we're the first world, right?

Petrea said...

Thanks, Ann. Ann's "conserve water" link reminds us that Pasadena's 1 day per week lawn watering schedule begins November 1st. Your second link, Ann, gave me an error message. Your third link gave me an answer!

Kat, after the bridge collapses of recent years and after an article in Smithsonian Magazine entitled, The Colorado River Runs Dry, I'm not surprised. We can get so stuck in ideology that practicality flies out the window. But that won't help when the land is dying of thirst and something could have been done about it if we'd only paid attention.

Bellis said...

After living here for 10 years, I've really learnt to value rain. Without it, there's no life - we might as well be on Mars.

I know where you took that photo, and it looked just the same when we had that precious bit of rain recently.

altadenahiker said...

When I have some extra $$, one of the first projects will be redirecting gray water to the non-edibles. If you use an environmentally friendly soap/shampoo while showering, this is a great recovery system for our dry climate.

Jean Spitzer said...

And the plants really love the gray water and will flourish.

Petrea said...

I want to do the gray water thing, too. Some time ago I talked to an Australian blogger who was doing it and loving it. She had a gorgeous garden.

Susan Campisi said...

Eloquent post about such a critical issue. Thanks for sharing the sobering facts. They need to be known.

Tash said...

Fantastic post! Gorgeous and at the same time pensive photo. I missed the action day :( So glad to be part of yours.

TheChieftess said...

Rotary International sponsors many water projects throughout Africa, South America and many more third world countries...

Dina said...

Thanks for adding the link, Petrea. That website, Design for the Other 90%, has some fine practical ideas.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Susan.

Chieftess, it sounds like Rotary International is one of those groups we should be contributing our money to.

Tash, I should have had a widget on my blog to publicize the day, but I gave up on it because it froze my browser!

Dina, I wonder if Design for the Other 90% is looking for investors...

Steve Scauzillo said...

Petrea, we had similar thoughts about water. I enjoyed participating. Great shot. In the SGV, we get most of our water from the underground aquifer. Unfortunately, aerospace and defense contractors dumped chemicals in the 1950s and 1960s and we're still cleaning up their mess. Let's support a full cleanup of both the Raymond and San Gabriel basins.

Petrea said...

Steve, I was looking at your blog late last night and will have to look again now that I'm rested enough to make a coherent comment.