Today is Earth Day. Now, I know that the Buddha never lectured on water conservation, solar energy, or global climate change. But he did talk at length about compassion. He did speak of karma.
What we need is more awareness of the far-reaching effects of our actions. Armed with this information, we are then able to make choices in our lives that lead to more skillful outcomes. We can live more compassionately, and create a more compassionate world. Earth Day is a great day to take a moment to contemplate the inter-connectedness of life on this planet.
One thing that connects all of us is water. The Earth is covered in it. Every species depends on some form of it. Nations have built themselves upon proximity to this natural resource. It is used in holy rituals throughout many (if not all) of the world’s religions. And just as it brings us together, it can cause a great divide. It comes in bottles and hurricanes, hail and hot springs. But of the potable variety, we are running out.
I could go on and on about how precious it is. How we need to manage our water usage better. How many people will die this year because they couldn’t get clean drinking water. How your life style and mine are ruining this planet. How a vegetarian lifestyle requires 60% less water consumption than one that is meat-based. How in the next 50 years, we’ll see nations go to war over not oil, but water. How you should do x, y, and z to help change things.
Instead, I’m going to leave you with some facts*. If you really take the time to let these facts soak in, you’ll know what to do. If you actually care about cultivating compassion, you’ll know what to do, and what types of companies/projects to consider supporting in the future. Though, I will jump on my soapbox for a minute, and ask you to please, please, please, NEVER BUY BOTTLED WATER. It is one of the most wasteful and irresponsible choices you could make as a consumer.
By 2025, 1.8 Billion people will live where water is scarce.
On average, 2 Billion gallons of water are used every day to irrigate golf courses in the U.S. In Florida, 3,000 gallons of water are used to water the grass for each golf game played.
U.S. swimming pools loose 150 billion gallons to evaporation every year.
Only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh. About 2/3 of that is frozen. Most of the rest is in aquifers that we’re draining much more quickly than the natural recharge rate.
The Great Lakes contain roughly 22% of the world’s fresh surface water.
2/3 of our water is used to grow food.
Americans use about 100 gallons of water at home each day. Millions of the world’s poorest make due with less than 5.
46% of people on earth do not have water piped into their homes. Women in these developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water.
The Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called the Third Pole because of all the frozen water it holds. It supplies fresh water to nearly a 1/3 of the world’s population. The glaciers there are melting.
One out of eight people in the world lack access to clean water.
3.3 million people die from water-related illness each year.
The weight of China’s Three Gorges Reservoir will tilt the earth’s axis by nearly an inch.
The longest water tunnel, which supplies New York City, leaks up to 35 million gallons a day.
Dam projects have displaced up to 80 million people worldwide.
Fish caught downstream from sewage treatment plants in five U.S. cities contained traces of pharmaceuticals like Dilitiazem, Norfluoxetine, and Carbamazepine as well as other toiletries.
The following is a list of items, with how many gallons of water it takes to produce each item (from scratch to your shopping cart/mouth)
2,900 – One pair of blue jeans
1,857 – One pound of beef
766 – One cotton T-shirt
84 – One pound of apples
20 – One glass of beer
37 – One cup of coffee
816,600 = gallons used during the lifetime of a typical cow destined for human consumption
*most of these were pulled from the February 2010 special edition of National Geographic