March 2, 2021
71% of our planet’s surface is covered in water. At first glance, this seems like an endless supply of a life-giving substance. So, you might be asking yourself, “why do we need to conserve and protect water when we seem to be surrounded by it?”. Let’s peel back the numbers for a deeper look.
That 71% equates to roughly 326 million cubic miles of water on the planet. That’s a lot of water! The concern starts with the fact that 97% of the earth's water is found in its oceans. This water is too salty for drinking, growing crops, and most industrial uses. So now we’re down to 3%. That was fast! Now, let’s dive into that 3%. 2.5% of the earth's freshwater is unavailable; it is either locked up in glaciers, polar ice caps, atmosphere, and/or soil, highly polluted, or lies too far under the earth's surface to be extracted at an affordable cost.
So that leaves us with 0.5% left available for fresh drinking water. That was a quick drop to the bottom! To further illustrate how small this amount is, consider that if this water supply were equal to 26 gallons, our usable water supply of freshwater would be only about 0.003 of one liter (or one-half of a teaspoon).
Knowing this, we can’t help but think how important it is for all of us to protect this rare resource. For example, it takes 1,232 gallons of water to produce a single 8-ounce steak. In contrast to this, by recycling just one cell phone you can protect up to 20,408 gallons of water. By recycling 100 cell phones you can protect up to 2,040,800 gallons of water. So, balance will play a key part in the protection of our freshwater supply.
As major cities begin to run out of fresh water (The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water) the need to protect this resource at every opportunity will increase.
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