Download a printer friendly version of this article here.
Water. 50-65% of the adult human body is composed of it, and it covers 70% of the earth’s surface. Westerners are surrounded by an abundance of water every day. However, despite the fact that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water only 2.5% of that is fresh water.[i] That being the case it is arguable that water is the most valuable resource on the planet. It is one of the three essentials for human life; the other two being air, and food. It is used in industries as varied as agriculture, and industrial production, and people are battling in courtrooms, statehouses, and in bloody wars over this precious commodity. Water. The necessity of life.
No one can argue the need that the human body has for water. Anyone who has ever done a serious workout knows the absolutely amazing feeling of gulping down a bottle of water afterwards. Most people know that water is important to their health, but do they really know all the benefits that water provides them? The United States Geological Survey compiled a list of the necessary functions that water provides for the human body. Firstly, water acts as a building material for every cell in your body. Our internal body temperature is controlled by water through sweat and respiration. Carbohydrates and proteins are metabolized and transported by water in our bloodstream. Water is used to remove waste from our bodies via urination, and acts as a shock absorber for our brains and spinal cords. It is also used to lubricate our joints. [ii] The absolute necessity of water to our continued survival and prosperity is beyond doubt.
Aside from the value that water has simply for the human body’s need for it water is used in countless different industries worldwide. Just to start off, the need for water in agriculture is enormous. Roughly 70% of water usage around the globe is for use in agriculture and irrigation.[iii] To provide enough food for basic survival for one person for one day requires two-three thousand liters of water. [iv] Think about that for a moment. Then, think about the fact that the earth’s population is continuing to rise. According to the United States Census Bureau the world’s population in 1900 was 1,550,000,000.[v] The world’s population in 2013 was 7,125,000,000.[vi] In a little over a century the world’s population has grown by almost 6 billion. Then remember that 70% of the world’s water is used solely for agriculture. We then have 22% of water use going towards industrial production, and 8% for household use.[vii] As the population continues to rise so will water usage, and 2.5% is not an infinite number.
Humanity knows the value of water. It is a biological imperative, and as such is something worth fighting and dying for. More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes, and the number of people living without access to water is equal to 2.5x the total population of the United States of America.[viii] In the western United States, battles are being fought in courtrooms and state houses over peoples’ individual rights to water.[ix] As the size of cities expand state governments are being forced to make choices over access to water. Farmers, industrial plants, and urbanites are fighting over who should, and more importantly, who should not have access to water. Meanwhile, in the Middle East 5% of the world’s population has access to only 1% of fresh water. Former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat once said “The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water.”[x]
In his bestselling book “Dune” writer Frank Herbert created a substance called the Water of Life. While the substance from the book does not actually exist, its name is quite interesting. Water is essential for all life. Probes are sent to other planets in search of this most precious resource. Scientists are searching Mars for signs that it once existed there. That is how important water is. As mankind continues its population expansion, as we spread out further and further across the globe there is only one thing that all of us require: Water. Fresh, clean water. Without it…there is no future.
About the Author
Dominick Principe is a graduate of Rowan University with dual Bachelor Degrees in Elementary Education and Writing Arts. He is a prolific reader who devours any book put before him, and feels that life is one great long book without an end. He fills his hours constantly exploring new information, and seeking to educate himself in the ways of the world. He puts all of that knowledge and his passion for learning to good use teaching English as a second language to students of all ages. When his nose isn’t buried in a book, or in class teaching, then he can generally be found typing away at his computer working on some random piece of writing that he was inspired to do.
[i] “Clean Water Crisis, Water Crisis Facts, Water Crisis Resources – National Geographic.”National Geographic. National Geographic. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/freshwater-crisis>.
[v] “World Population Historical Estimates of World Population.” Census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <World Population Historical Estimates of World Population>.
[viii] “Water.org.” Waterorg. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/>.
[ix] Wines, Michael. “West’s Drought and Growth Intensify Conflict Over Water Rights.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2014. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/us/wests-drought-and-growth-intensify-conflict-over-water-rights.html?_r=0>.
[x] “Water, Conflict, and Cooperation: Lessons From the Nile River Basin (No. 4) | Wilson Center.” Water, Conflict, and Cooperation: Lessons From the Nile River Basin (No. 4) | Wilson Center. The Wilson Center. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/water-conflict-and-cooperation-lessons-the-nile-river-basin-no-4>.