Sunday, March 22, 2009

is water the new oil?

This was reported by Reuters:

If water is the new oil, is blue the new green?

Translation: if water is now the kind of precious commodity that oil became in the 20th century, should delivery of clean water be the same sort of powerful political force as the environmental movement in an age of climate change?

And, in another sense of green, is there money to be made in a time of water scarcity?

The answer to both questions, according to environmental activists watching a global forum on water, is yes.

The week-long meeting in Istanbul ends Sunday, which is International World Water Day, an annual United Nations event that began in 1993 to focus attention on sustainable management of fresh water resources.

The yearly observance recognizes water as an absolute human need: people can live as much as 30 days without food but only seven without water. How long can a person live without oil?

More than a billion people lack access to clean water, and 2.5 billion are without water for sanitation, with 80 percent of all disease borne by dirty water.

This may seem ironic, since Earth is literally a blue planet when seen from space -- most of it is covered in water. But what humans need is water that is fresh and clean, and most of Earth's water is salty or dirty.

What was clear at this year's World Water Forum in Turkey was the notion that clean, fresh water supplies are waning due to a warming world.

"As climate change accelerates and we see a changing hydrological cycle, diminishing access to resources, there are direct human impacts that are water-related," said Jonathan Greenblatt, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles who advised the Obama transition team on civic engagement and national service.

If sea levels rise as scientists predict, coastal regions may see increased salination of aquifers -- natural underground reservoirs -- which will affect access to fresh water in those areas, Greenblatt said.

You can read the rest of the report at this link: Water

Here is more information about Water:

World water forum pledges action

ISTANBUL (AFP) — A seven-day focus on the world's water crunch wound up Sunday with a pledge by more than 100 countries to strive for clean water and sanitation for billions in need and fight drought and flood.

But some countries criticised the cornerstone outcome of the fifth World Water Forum as flawed while activists dismissed the event itself as a "trade show."

The declaration, coinciding with World Water Day, was issued at the end of a three-day ministerial meeting, climaxing the biggest-ever conference on the planet's freshwater crisis.

"The world is facing rapid and unprecedented global changes, including population growth, migration, urbanisation, climate change, desertification, drought, degradation and land use, economic and diet changes," the statement said.

It set out a roster of non-binding recommendations, including greater cooperation to ease disputes over water, measures to address floods and water scarcity, better management of resources and curbing pollution of rivers, lakes and aquifers.

The world's supply of fresh water is running out. Already one person in five has no access to safe drinking water. Click on the link to read about some of the world's water flashpoints: Map

These are the hard facts about the global water crisis:

•884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.

•Each year, 3.575 million people die from water-related disease.

•2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people who have no facilities at all.

•Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.

•Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.

•At any given time, half of the world's hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.

Source: Water

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