Blog Action Day 2010: Water

Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event that aims to unite bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day in order to ignite discussion and action. This year’s topic is water, an issue that is growing more and more prevelant in any conversation on sustainability. By now most of us have heard that “blue is the new green”. Well, what does that mean? In my mind, water is a perfect example of an issue that has dramatic consequences on all three aspects of the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. For example:

People:

Water issues have a dramatic impact on social sustainability, just take a look at these horrifying facts:

  • 40 Billion Hours: African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 40 pounds to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink (source: Charity: Water)
  • 38,000 Children a Week: Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions. (source: Charity: Water)
  • Wars Over Water: Many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water. A report commissioned by the UN found that in the 21st century, water scarcity will become one of the leading causes of conflict in Africa. (source: The Final Call)

Planet:

  • Waste Overflow: Every day, 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in water sources. This not only negatively impacts the environment but also harms the health of surrounding communities. (source: UN-water)
  • Uninhabitable Rivers: Today, 40% of America’s rivers and 46% of America’s lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life. (source: DoSomething.org)

Profit:

  • Polluted Oceans: Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy $12.8 billion a year. (source: SavetheSea.org)
  • Poverty: Lack of clean water directly contributes to poverty by making people unable to grow their own food, build adequate housing and maintain health resulting in eventual inability to go to school or work. (source: The Water Project)

Access to clean water and sanitation has been declared by the UN to be a human right. If this is the case, how can we possibly tolerate the fact that over a billion people on this planet do not have reliable access to clean water? How can any process or building possibly be considered sustainable if it does nothing to address this global water crisis? That is what “blue is the new green” means to me. The good news is that all of the issues surrounding water are solvable by conserving water, protecting our waterbodies and exercising a little bit of social responsibility in providing water solutions to those who do not have access to water. For more information on Blog Action Day or more information on this global water crisis and how you can help. please visit blogactionday.change.org.

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