Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where's the Water Crisis?

In India, where water shortages are already being felt, there were over 50 reported acts of violence over water during the month of May alone.

Experts estimate 2.5 gallons per person per day is a sustainable amount to use, the average American consumes 100 gallons per day.

Even if you don’t believe these two statistics entirely, they should still make you sit up and take notice. I saw them in an article on , a reliable website for environmental issues. Other sources state American per capita water consumption is between 60-70 gallons per day, so maybe the numbers are a bit exaggerated. They might be off as much as 50%. That would mean that in India there were 25 acts of violence about water in one month. That’s still astounding. It also might mean that Americans use 40 or 50 gallons of water a day. Also still astounding. What is clear is that Americans use a lot of water and people in India, and other countries as well, don’t have enough.

Another way to look at water usage is water footprint. A water footprint, like a carbon footprint, takes into account all the water a nations uses, including for drinking, personal use, agriculture, industry and more. The Water Footprint Network has a calculator that shows the relative footprints of many countries. The measure is in cubic meters/capita/year and it gets complicated when you look at all the components of the measurement.

Even if you don’t take the time to thoroughly understand the numbers, take a moment to look at the water footprint of a few countries. Way up at the top is the United States at 2,483. France is 1,875 and Germany is 1,545. Israel is 1,391 and India, the country where violence over water has taken, is at 980. Wow. No wonder fights are breaking out.

If this did make you sit up and notice, check out the Treehugger and the Water Footprint Network. There are some good articles about the water crisis and water usage. I will try very hard to keep these numbers in mind when I stand under my morning shower. I’ve have finally learned to turn the water off while I am brushing my teeth but I still like a long, hot shower. I’m working on making it shorter.

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