Water, Water Everywhere . . .
THE dawn comes. In their homes people begin to stir from another night of restful sleep. Showers and tub water must be run to freshen their bodies. There are sleepy eyes to awaken with a splash of water and beards to shave. There are pots of water to be drawn for the inevitable first brew of tea or coffee so imperative for some. Dirty dishes and soiled clothes will need to be washed in clean water.
As the morning sun rises higher in the sky, the wheels of industry begin to turn. Valves are opened so that water, that lifeblood so necessary for heating, cooling, generating electrical power, formulating chemicals, and so many other things, can course through its miles of pipes.
Without water the wheels of industry would grind to a halt as surely as if the electric plug was pulled. For example, the production of the 2,000 pounds of steel in your car required the recycling of over 60,000 gallons of water, and 4 gallons of water were needed in processing every gallon of fuel in its tank.* Cafés and restaurants prepare for another busy day, during which the hands of their water meters will spin swiftly. In the more arid regions, miles of pipes and myriads of sprinkler heads discharge millions of cubic feet of precious water to irrigate the farms from which comes so much food for the cities.
Water, water everywhere. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of it. Because this thinking permeates the minds of most people, it is abused, misused, wasted, and taken for granted, with little thought given to its source. Because of easy access to it, even some of the cities’ less affluent ones can, in this respect, live better than did ancient kings in all their splendor. With the turn of a knob in their kitchen or bathroom, they can have hot or cold running water (in the United States, for example, an average of 87 gallons a day per person).
Water is essential for every living thing. Next to air, it is most necessary for sustaining man’s life. Without food, man can live for more than a month. Without water, or water-containing food or drinks, he will die in about a week. If his body loses more than 20 percent of its normal water content, he will die a painful death.
Throughout man’s history, there has been a violent quest for water. Wars have been fought for control of it. Men have killed one another over a muddy oasis in a desert. Towns, cities, and empires have risen where water was plentiful. Some were abandoned when water supplies failed. Men have made idols to water and worshiped them as gods. They have been prayed to by means of great rituals and sacrifices when water was scarce and given the credit when water was found.
The Water Crisis—Coming or Here?
As the human population has exploded upon the earth, the demand for water has reached new heights. Endless columns of newsprint from around the world are being devoted to the need for more water. Some experts refer to “the coming water crisis” and “the next resource shortage.” Others, however, add a more ominous note. “Our nation is in a water crisis right now,” said one United States senator. “People say it is a crisis waiting to happen. It is a crisis right now,” wrote the chairman of the House Water Resources Subcommittee. “America’s most precious resource is in peril,” wrote U.S.News & World Report of March 1985. “The crisis of the 1990s on the domestic side will be lack of water for domestic use,” said the then U.S. secretary of the interior. “All efforts to promote growth and employment, to increase agricultural prosperity, to protect the environment and to revive our cities will mean nothing, unless we can meet society’s need for water,” he warned.
Unfortunately, the water crisis is not an American problem alone but one that affects the whole world. “The world’s water crisis is far more serious than the oil crisis,” said one writer. “More than thirty countries will face a severe shortage in the next twenty years. As populations grow and water becomes scarcer, one cannot rule out the possibility of countries going to war for it,” he added. By all indications it is the unanimous view of world experts and planners that the water future for the world is indeed frightfully critical.
Why the world concern over water? The earth has an enormous amount of it. Over 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with it. To appreciate this tremendous volume of liquid is to exercise the mind. Imagine, for example, a pit one mile long, one mile wide, and one mile deep—one cubic mile. To fill this cube with water would require over a million million (1,000,000,000,000) gallons. Now multiply this volume by 326 million such cubic miles, and you approximate the amount of water on the earth. It cycles endlessly from oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams into the atmosphere, drawn by the sun’s heat, and then falls back in the form of rain or snow.—Ecclesiastes 1:7.
The facts indicate that there is enough water on the earth to more than fill the desire of every living thing, from man’s creation and throughout eternity. (Psalm 145:16) Why, then, the water crisis?
1 lb = 0.5 kg.
1 gal = 3.8 L.