“Do what you can, do it with others, and do it with passion.” – Guy Ryder, Chair of UN-Water
(for the TL;DR head to sources)
Hello and welcome, or welcome back, friends. Today is World Water Day 2017, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the global water crisis we are facing. About 663 million people in the world right now are without water. If you think that is a problem that “doesn’t affect us”, or can only picture it affecting countries in rural Africa, Asia, and Latin America, you may be surprised to know that 13 million of those without water are actually in developed countries, including the United States.
“It’s ironic when you live in The Great Lake state and don’t have access to clean water” – Karen Weaver, Mayor of Flint, Michigan
A statistic that I find completely unsettling is that an estimated 5,000 children under the age of 5 will die every day from diarrhea, which can be caused by drinking contaminated water, and made worse by the dehydration that follows and lack of water to mitigate the problem. If the average 5-year-old child in my town were to get a stomach bug, their parent would run to the store and get them a Gatorade or Pedialyte and they would be back in business in a day or two, no big deal. For a child that doesn’t have this option and doesn’t have immediate access to water, this is a terrifying and deadly illness.
While huge progress has been made in the last 5, 10, 15 years, there is still much progress to be made, and worry about increasing obstacles to that progress.
One of these obstacles I am particularly passionate about: Animal Agriculture is one of the biggest threats to water availability that humans face today. Consider for a moment how you use water in your home in an average day: washing your face, doing the dishes, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, doing your laundry, flushing the toilet, washing your hands, cooking, drinking water, etc. You might be picturing that consumption and thinking “yikes, I could probably slow down on the amount of time I have faucets running”. While that may be true, private home water consumption only amounts for about 5% of the US water consumption on average, while a staggering 55% is used for Animal Agriculture. Worldwide, cows drink somewhere around 45 billion gallons of water a day. A DAY. Yes, for sure, cows need to drink water too, but the good majority of water going to animal agriculture isn’t even for the animals to drink. Here are a couple interesting stats to shed some light on the water that goes into animal products throughout the entire production process:
660 Gallons of water= one single 1/3 pound burger
477 Gallons of water = 1 pound of eggs
900 Gallons of water = 1 pound of cheese
1,000 Gallons of water = 1 Gallon of milk
Everyone knows that arable farming (plant crops) uses up water, and we need that, right? Every single day humans survive off of common crops such as corn, wheat, sugar cane, rice, etc. First off, compared to that 900 gallons of water it takes to produce a pound of cheese, one pound of wheat only requires 132 gallons of water. (This is where huge wastefulness comes into play): What we often don’t think about is how much of that yield is going directly to feed the livestock that humans are, in turn, going to consume.
Scientists at Cornell University estimate that The United States alone could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock consume. And the demand for meat is set to DOUBLE by 2050. (but I will save my cattle farming rant for another post).
I hope these statistics have you at least interested in the water problem we, as a global population, are facing today.
“This is not a partisan debate; it is a human one. Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation.” -Leonardo DiCaprio
How You Can Help:
- Donate- visit any of the following: water.org ; wateraid.org ; unicefusa.org/wateris-beautiful ; wateraidamerica.org ; water4.org
- Get Educated- read on using any of the previous links, or links I will include under sources, do your own research–google is your friend, watch the maaaany documentaries (two of my favorites are Cowspiracy and Before The Flood).
- Go Meatless- I know, I know. Just try it, one day a week.
- Share- just share any information you have learned, help spread awareness.
(for TL;DR people: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/animalwelfare/arjen_hoekstra_the_water_footprint_of_humanity.pdf)
- John Green on a trip to Ethiopia with Water.org: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNJmg4pwLBQ