Thursday, March 22, 2012

Water, Water Everywhere: Happy World Water Day!

Living in Del Norte County, it can indeed feel like there is water everywhere. We are surrounded by the ocean, our wonderful rivers, and the water that falls so abundantly from our skies. Water plays a huge role in our lives here whether we are surfers, swimmers, fishers, or floaters: Del Norte folks work, play, and live with water.

In addition to all the visible and tangible ways we are connected to water, water plays a huge hidden role in our every day lives. This year, the slogan for World Water Day -- today! -- is "The World Is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry". Activities and promotional materials are highlighting the vast quantities of water used in food production, quantities that are expected to rise dramatically as the human population continues to grow and more people are opting into a Western, meat-heavy diet.

Here's the explanation of the theme from the UN's advocacy guide for World Water Day:

"UN-Water is dedicating World Water Day in 2012 to the theme of ‘Water and Food Security’.

The objective of WWD 2012 is to raise awareness on the relationship between water and food production and promote more sustainable food production and consumption patterns. It seeks both to alert the world of the adverse global situation in water and food security, and to encourage decision-makers to seize opportunities to address global challenges. Through showcasing success, it seeks to encourage decision-makers to initiate and sustain reforms and forward-looking approaches."

Many partners are involved in this work. One Drop has created a game and a water footprint calculator based on the amount of water required to produce particular foods. Their visual representations of what they call "virtual water" are stunning: a block of cheese spraying out water droplets as it's grated, an apple pouring off water as it's peeled.

WaterAid is highlighting the absence of safe drinking water for one in ten people living on Earth today. Water-sandal maker Teva is urging people to do a day without water. At the federal government level, the Centers for Disease Control and the State Department both promote World Water Day.

Teva's "One Song Shower" graphic is part of their Day Without Water Challenge

It's worth noting that the United Nations has been tying food security into many different messages this year. As you may recall if you read our post on International Women's Day, the theme was about ending hunger through women's empowerment. It is no coincidence that food security is a recurring theme. Food security is a real and pressing issue for many people both here and abroad, especially those who are living in poverty. With about 70% of fresh water consumption being used in food production, we cannot ignore the direct links between water security and food security.

You might not want to get too close to me today. Although I will continue to wash my hands as a health and safety concern, I am giving up my shower and tooth-brushing (apologies to my new dentist!) for the day.

[Update: I wrote this in advance with the full intention of not showering. However, an encounter of the dental kind yesterday had me feeling all fear/nervous sweaty, which is not a good feeling. I instead embraced the one-song shower challenge and had the water running for less than three minutes. I figure if I do that for the next week, I'll have made up for showering at all this morning. To make up for inadvertently deceiving our readers, I'm offering up another view of World Water Day.]

Here in Del Norte, we may be blessed with abundant water, but for many people around the world, obtaining sufficient fresh, clean water is an every day challenge. World Water Day is an opportunity to think about our water resources with a fresh perspective. How will you celebrate, acknowledge, or learn from World Water Day 2012?


Auntie Best said...

to produce 1 pound of beef takes more than five THOUSAND gallons of water. Eating a vegetable diet uses 95% less natural resources. And all the grain those meat and dairy cows don't eat can be fed to starving people!

Growing Tables Admin said...

It's true, Auntie Best. Raising animals for slaughter is very water-intensive and makes meat a very expensive food in terms of water.