An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Water – Inequities and World Thirst

Water is THE most useful resource for human life. We may not realize it, but it is far more important that diamonds and gold! The status of water is in a bad state around the world. As the population grows and the pressure on water resources increases because of pollution, misuse and over consumption. If the world survives the oil wars – the next phase of wars maybe over water. And Canada may be the richest country then!

The modern day food choices also do not help.. read this:

  • It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons.
  • One Hamburger takes 1300 gallons of water to make it

One pound of meat takes away as much water as 50 poor families in India could have used in A DAY!! That is how inequitable the use of water is! And this is not a value judgment. It is a statement.

The distribution of water is also not the same. Canada has the most water in the world! How is the water distributed around the world on this planet?

About 1,460 teratonnes (Tt) of water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, mostly in oceans and other large water bodies, with 1.6% of water below ground in aquifers and 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds (formed of solid and liquid water particles suspended in air), and precipitation.[2] Some of the Earth’s water is contained within man-made and natural objects near the Earth’s surface such as water towers, animal and plant bodies, manufactured products, and food stores.

Saltwater oceans hold 97% of surface water, glaciers and polar ice caps 2.4%, and other land surface water such as rivers and lakes 0.6%. Water moves continually through a cycle of evaporation or transpiration, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Winds carry water vapor over land at the same rate as runoff into the sea, about 36 Tt per year. Over land, evaporation and transpiration contribute another 71 Tt per year to the precipitation of 107 Tt per year over land. Some water is trapped for varying periods in ice caps, glaciers, aquifers, or in lakes, sometimes providing fresh water for life on land.

Rob Zaretsky, a guest on "Engines of our Ingenuity" – my favorite radio program in US, possibly anywhere! (Transcripts of all EOI programs)- discusses an article in New Yorker on water distribution and Frank Herbert’s book "Dune". Here is how Rob evaluates the situation of water around the world.

Canada has more water than China, but there are forty times more Chinese than Canadians. India staggers under 20 percent of the global population, yet taps into less than four percent of the world’s water resources.

Something has to give. In Beijing, it is the foundations that are giving way. Countless ground wells are emptying the aquifers, turning the city into a massive elevator equipped only with a down button: Beijing has sunk 200 feet over the last 20 years. In India, democratic institutions sag under the demands for water between rural and urban residents, poor and rich. The Minister of Water Resources refers to himself as the Minister of Water Conflicts. The poor of New Delhi scrape by with fewer than 25 gallons a day — equal to the three sloshing buckets they carry from water tankers to their homes. At the same time, domestic use in America is over a hundred gallons of water daily. And the total water chargeable to us is more like 1200 gallons a day.

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