The Global Drinking Water Shortage

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" We never know the worth of water till the well is dry." -- Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia #5451 (1732) While it is the single most important substance on earth, we usually don’t think about water other than when we’re thirsty. Most homes have at least two indoor faucets. Almost every public building has water fountains conveniently placed for easy, instant refreshment. Water is simple; it’s always there. Yet despite all this convenience, simplicity, and lack of excitement, water is the most essential part of life. Water is part of every step of the life cycle, every food chain and every organism. Perhaps the effort associated with getting a drink of water is too little to bring to our realization the magnitude of water’s significance. After enough contemplation, it begins to seem too good to be true. Perhaps it is. In Ethiopia, famine due to drought claimed 1 million lives in 1984 (Thurow A8). While Ethiopia has the right temperatures for good agriculture, it lacks consistent rainfall, and crops can only be grown through the wettest season. All of this adds up to a lot of starving, thirsty people (A1). When I say “Nile”, you think “Egypt”. When I say “Ethiopia”, you think “famine.” The Nile River, which brings life into the hot dessert of Egypt, starts in Ethiopia. In fact, 85% of the water in the Nile River comes from tributaries in Ethiopia (Thurow A1). Ethiopia has a wealth of water running through it; why not use that water to grow food for one of the most impoverished parts of the world? Politics. For years, Egypt has str... ... middle of paper ... ...ntal Psychology. 24 (2004): 91-103. Thurow, Roger. “Ravaged by Famine, Ethiopia Finally Gets Help From the Nile.” Wall Street Journal. 26 November 2003, eastern ed.: A1,A8. United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Water-Efficient Landscaping. Washington, D.C.: GPO, September 2002. ---. ---. National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Pollution from Agriculture. Washington, D.C.: GPO, July 2003. ---. General Accounting Office. Water quality [microform] : key EPA and state decisions limited by inconsistent and incomplete data : report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives / United States General Accounting Office. Washington, D.C.: GPO, March 2000. Weiss, Rick. “Threats Posed by Water Scarcity Detailed.” The Washington Post. 5 March 2003: A3.

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