Blog Action Day 2010 = Water

Last Friday, October 15th was official Blog Action Day, as recognized by All over the world, thousands of bloggers typed away about this year’s designated topic: water.

Why water, you may ask? Well, here’s what I think is the interesting thing about this topic. When it comes to writing an action-oriented blog about the topic of water, there are so many angles one could take. Greenpeace wrote about the threat that nuclear power poses to clean water sources. John Sauer of the Huffington Post wrote about the severe lack of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene for students attending school in developing countries. Melanie Nayer wrote on the Gadling blog about how crucial clean water has been to rebuilding an earthquake-ravaged Haiti. If you Google “blog action day,” you can find thousands of blogs that  were written last Friday, all about water. The fascinating thing to me is that, from what I can tell, these blogs really lack redundancy. There are so many avenues one can choose when writing about water, because it is of course, quite simply, our life force.

The sad thing about the topic of water is that it is one that is largely related to crisis. In some areas of the world, clean water is in terrifyingly short supply. As Nayer discusses in her article, about one-third of all children in Haiti die before they reach the age of five, and 60% of these deaths are directly related to diarrheal disease and malnutrition. There’s currently an area in the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is filled with 100 million tons of plastic litter. There is so much plastic in the water that it outnumbers zooplankton six to one. Millions of sea mammals, birds, and fish die every year because of ingestion of or entanglement in plastic.

Unfortunately, the problems that we as a planet face with our water supply are numerous. It may be easy for people like me, in my cozy home in Virginia, to not realize the enormity of the global water problem. It really is quite closely related to the global food crisis. Because we can shop at a fully stocked grocery store, we assume there is no food crisis. Because we can turn on the tap, we assume there is no water crisis. But indeed both of these problems are factual and not tall tales. The misconceptions surrounding the planet’s water crisis are many.

Here are my top five misconceptions about water:

(1) Bottled water is healthier and cleaner than tap water. In reality, tap water is about as nutritious as water gets. You may think that bottled water smells or tastes better, but unless you have a well with contaminated water, there is nothing wrong with your tap water. For a detailed list of myths about bottled water, check out this list on WebMD. Bottled water is a HUGE industry here in America, but my opinion is that those precious bottles should only be sent to where they are really needed. It’s not really water scarcity that is a problem in many areas of the world, but access to clean water. In fact, the ancient Romans had better access to clean water than half the people alive in the world today. Here we are sipping water from plastic bottles, then tossing the bottle to let it sit for eternity in a landfill, when thousands of people are dying every day after falling ill from water-borne contaminants. Shame on us.

(2) Everyone should drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. This is a general rule of thumb for the TOTAL amount of fluids you should consume in a day, and this includes the water you get from food. This quiz calculates the amount of water you should drink per day based on your weight, whether you exercise and for how long, whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, whether you live at a high altitude or in a dry climate, whether the climate has extreme temperatures, whether you consume alcoholic beverages, or have a fever or diarrhea. So obviously, there are really many factors to take into account.

(3) Drinking extra water every day will help you lose weight and give you healthier skin. Unfortunately, neither one of these is true. Water is not magical. Just because you drink it does not mean you will lose weight. Now if you keep your mouth busy by drinking water rather than consuming caloric food or beverages, perhaps this will help. But water in does not equal weight off. As far as your skin is concerned, there is very little evidence that extra water every day is good for your skin. If you drink water instead of sugar-laden soda, then yes, this is better for your skin, as well as your overall health. But drinking extra water every day to clear or moisturize your skin is likely to be ineffective.

(4) Because water is a renewable resource, it is in no short supply. About one out of every six people in the world today lack access to safe drinking water. As the global population grows, it is reasonable for us to expect this problem to worsen. It is quite similar to the impending food crisis; as the population continues to boom, there will just not be enough clean water on earth for all those people. The amount of waste water we generate and disperse will exceed the amount of clean water we can produce.

(5) The water crisis is a problem to worry about tomorrow. If you read my blog, then you know my mantra by now: Don’t panic, be prepared. I am forever writing about the reality of the food crisis, and the fact of the matter is that food would not exist without water. These two are so closely intertwined that they are practically inseparable. Today, as much as 70% of the world’s clean water supply goes to agriculture. So what do you think will happen when that clean water supply starts to run dry?


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