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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gifting your child a thirsty future?

As the famous English saying goes – “3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food”, water without a doubt is the fuel that drives life. From the beginning of time, water has been accorded a very special status by mankind and is considered holy in almost every religion on the face of this earth. But man has changed, so has his attitude. At a time when governments are spending millions searching for water on outer space (thus accepting the fact that water is a giver of life!), we humans along with our governments are simply destroying quality water on earth.

We all learnt in school that water covers most of the surface of the earth, but only a mere 2% of which is potable. Out of this nearly 60% is locked up as ice in mountain glaciers and polar icecaps. The ever increasing global temperatures are forcing these icecaps to fast melt and thus converting even this scarce source of fresh water into salt water. So where are we headed? Is the future going to be thirsty? And who is to blame?
Most of us live in cities and have access to potable water – good quality or not. Most of us are ignorant about the need to intake quality water. Lack of water purification facilities and rampant pollution of underground water (mainly due to poor sewage systems) is adding to these woos. And then there is the problem of unplanned, unethical, selfish and mindless drilling of bore wells. In Bangalore (India’s IT Capital), the depth of the bore wells have increased by nearly 500 feet in the past 5 years alone! The question is how deep can we go? And is there enough water down there?

Did you know that out of the 7 billion people inhabiting the earth, 783 million do not have access of good quality water? Did you know that about 3.4 million people die every year of water related diseases? Did you know that every 21 seconds a child dies due to lack of access of water?

So how is climate change going to worsen the situation? Well for starters, global warming induced sea level rise will reduce the availability of fresh water along the coasts by as much as 50%! (PS: 40% of the world’s population lives along the coasts). Changes in precipitation patterns will further aggravate the situation. Fast receding glaciers and ever decreasing mountain snow-pack would reduce the annual feed of perennial rivers. Failure of monsoons would lead to drought like situations even in areas considered water-rich. Scientists estimate that by 2050 nearly a third of the world’s population would be deprived of quality drinking water. Will I be on that list? Will our children be on that list?

Where are we headed folks? It’s a selfish world we live in and it is high time we wake up do something about it. 
The first question that you need to ask yourself – “Am I gifting my child a thirsty future?” No? Then please join hands and together we can ensure that our kids drink good water. Change begins at home. Be conscious about the use of water and encourage your neighbours to follow suit. But this is not enough. In developing countries like India, the poor sewage systems and lack of water recycling plants are fast reducing the quality of available ground water by mixing of sewage in it. Therefore the need of the hour is to pressurize the government servants and elected representatives into ensuring the purity of the already scarce ground water. Every parent must come together and ensure that the water bodies in their localities are devoid of pollution. Elected representatives must be put to task and questioned when they come begging for votes during the elections. What we need is a revolution like the Arab spring to secure the quality drinking water.
It’s a selfish world we live in, but if we truly love our children, then we cannot afford to be selfish. Change begins at home. Wake up!