A THIRSTY PLANET
A woman drops a bucket into a dry well in Africa. A Chinese family watches its home vanish beneath a new reservoir. An Australian farmer kicks the salt crust slowly poisoning his field. In all corners of the globe people face trouble with water. It is the tie that binds every living thing, as vital to life as air. Yet one third of the world’s people live in countries where water supplies often don’t meet demand; more than a billion lack access to clean drinking water altogether. Those numbers will drastically increase in the next 25 years as the population grows. It’s not that we’re running out – Earth is awash in water, continuously recycling the same amount it’s had for eons. But accessible fresh water in lakes, rivers, and aquifers, often called renewable water, is less than onetenth of one percent of all Earth’s water – and it rarely lies where it’s needed most. We’ve tapped half of it already, and many of the world’s great watersheds now suffer from pollution, overexploitation, and political conflict. Have you checked your water source lately?
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Washington, D.C. Sep. 2002. Supplement.
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