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Freshwater Resources: Tapped Out By Peter Gleick

The article being discussed was entitled Tapped Out and was written by Peter Gleick. It focuses on the depleting supply of our Earth’s freshwater resources. How it effects the human population, and how the problem will develop in years to come. The question being asked is will we be able to sustain enough freshwater to satisfy all the world’s needs? And what will we do about the present lack of clean freshwater in many underdeveloped countries all around the world. The reason why is quite obvious. We need to reevaluate our distribution of freshwater, and find a way to conserve and preserve it for generations to come.

An astounding half of the world’s population lives with out an adequate supply of clean water. Think of all the ways that Americans use water everyday. We have the advantages of taking showers, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, or washing our cars. In other places in the world people don’t even have a clean glass of water to drink let alone cook or clean with. Ten to twenty thousand children die everyday of preventable water related diseases, and the latest evidence shows that we are lagging in the effort to solve these problems.

The average person doesn’t realize what people without running water go through. Carrying water for miles and miles from a well just to boil a pot of water over a fire, and who is to say that the water is clean. One billion people suffer from lack of a clean water supply. Two and a half billion do not have adequate sanitation services in their homes or around them. Rivers and streams that may have once provided a water source have now been contaminated and are no longer useful for drinking or cooking with.

Most of the time people are forced to drink brackish or arsenic contaminated water. Millions of people in Bangladesh and India drink water with arsenic in it everyday. Other problems with water sanitation include diseases, such as cholera. The last massive cholera outbreak was in Latin America, Asia, and Africa during the mid 1990’s. However thanks to improvements and advances in sanitation this disease has mostly been wiped out. Another factor in these developments is a greater awareness of how to conserve and recycle water.

Since the 1980’s demand for water has actually gone down due to awareness. Individuals and communities are better equipped to save water and they have learned to be less wasteful. The focus has returned to concentrating on basic needs for the human population and the environment. Even though there are serious efforts being made to create water for everyone experts are not sure if the water supply can keep up with a population that is growing as fast as ours is. It has been estimated that by 2025 forty percent of a population numbering 7. illion may face serious problems if only natural sources are available to them. Agriculture, industry, and general human health will be challenged by high demand. Even though we are at a point where the water supply is being sustained surging future populations around the world are already putting stress on a limited supply. The article also states that human health is not the only thing in danger. By creating dams, and canals damage is caused to animal and human habitat. By far the most casualties have been in the numbers of fish.

Populations of freshwater and saltwater fish have been greatly effected. In the United States alone 95% of the juvenile salmon population did not survive the migration to the ocean because of dams and reservoirs along the Colombia and Snake Rivers. The population of Atlantic Salmon has fallen to less than one percent of its original number. The major factor was the 900 or so dams on New England and European rivers that block them from their reproduction grounds. Although more drastic than any other situation is the one in the Aral Sea which is located in central Asia.

The two main rivers that flow into it (Amu Darya and Syr Darya) have been diverted to irrigate cotton, and the sea can no longer be sustained. As a result the twenty-four species of fish that were once thought to live there are all thought to be extinct. Human habitats are ruined when they have to be relocated due to the making of a reservoirs or building of a dam. Numbers of people ranging in the tens of millions have had to leave their homes, because of where their country chose to create a new water source.

Most had no warning that they were to leave and they were never provided any compensation for their loses. The question that many ask is how can it be possible for a planet whose surface is covered mostly by water face a lack of water. The fact of the matter is that more than 90 percent of the world’s water is too salty for humans to utilize. Of the two percent that is consumable half of it is unreachable. Frozen in ice caps and glaciers or deep underground where we cannot take advantage of it. There is one process that enables us to take advantage of our salt water called desalinization.

This process is very expensive, time consuming, and difficult. Huge plants must be constructed, and can sometimes be harmful to the environments around them. The process consists of turning salt water into steam and filtering it. Once that is completed it is evaporated again and cooled once more. After purification and more filtering freshwater is created, and you are able to drink it. Experts make predictions and estimations are made but no one really knows how our water supply will be effected in the future and what will happen if we cannot sustain it.

Efforts are being made and calculations are being taken but unless everyone pitches in and helps we will be lost. If we learn how to evenly distribute and how to control flow enough so that no one will be without necessary sanitation and drinking water that will just be the beginning. After that we must learn how to preserve our water, and find out how we can make it last . With a large population that continues to grow at a staggering rate we will have to learn, and learn fast. Water is the basis of life on this planet and we would not survive with out it.

It is also one of the greatest mysteries on this planet. Although we know how it is naturally reused and recycled in the environment, we now have to factor ourselves into the equation. The greatest threat to our water resources is ourselves. Opinion. . . Personally I believe this deserves the scientific stamp of approval so to say. Although it was not necessarily a conventional experiment with definite factors and a set course it proves a very good point. It shows the necessary steps we must take as a world population to conserve a vital part of our lives.

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