We Are Not Immune
Understanding Our Global Village
Prof. Ian Matthews
March 26, 2012
Water is the basis of all life form on the planet, a fact that is undeniably truth. From wildlife to human life, to nature, to machinery, nothing is, was or ever will be without water. It essentially fuels all things created on our planet, and the planet itself. This is no secret; it comes as common knowledge to every form of life on the planet, even those in the poorest and uneducated countries. Yet, even knowing this, we as human beings are destroying the planet’s bloodline, draining it of its life giving liquid, and shortening our time here on Earth.
Human beings are taking this water supply for granted. Every morning we wake up and brush our teeth, take a shower, use our toilets, boil water for our coffee and other such second nature activities without ever so much as thinking where this water comes from. It’s always just been there, so why worry about it? Is there a need for those of us living comfortable First World lives to ever have to worry about it? The truth is that there is, and this paper will cover some of the underlying facts of water crises around the world, from a Third World perspective such as Pakistan’s, a First World point of view such as Australia’s, and on a global level. While nearly 70 percent of Earth is covered in water, almost 98 percent of this water is in our oceans, therefore making two percent of our planets water drinkable. Of this two percent, 1.6 percent of the planet’s water is locked away in the polar ice caps and glaciers. Another 0.36 percent is found underground in aquifers and wells, leaving a scant 0.036 percent of the planet’s total freshwater supply in lakes and rivers (Discovery Communications, LLC., 2011). Our ignorance as to how precious our freshwater supply is leading us to believe that we have no reason to worry about any sort of water crisis, especially in First World countries. This false sense of security is quickly leading us down a path that we may soon never be able to repair. While many Third World countries are experiencing a water crisis, some of these are more extreme than others. Ten countries in the world are currently experiencing extreme water crises. One of these countries, Pakistan, is globally known for its current and long-running water crisis. Pakistan is unquestionably on the dry end of the water stress spectrum. Easily a third of Pakistanis have no access to safe drinking water, while an even greater 46 percent lack access to suitable sanitation. What makes this matter even worse is how uneven the proportioning of the lack of sanitation and safe drinking water actually is. The majority of Pakistanis, approximately two-thirds, populate around the Indus River, which covers barely one quarter of Pakistan’s area (Haider Warraich, 2011). UNICEF reports that an average of 30 percent of hospitalized patients in Pakistan suffer from infections due to impure water (World Water Assessment Program, 2003). The quality of life for those in Pakistan in the year 2010 was ranked 178th out of 196 countries in the world, and the lack of access to clean drinking water drastically adds to the country’s already grave public health concerns. Water availability has plummeted from about 5,000 cubic meters per capita in the early 1950s to less than 1,500 cubic meters per capita today (Kugelman, 2009). But, to the majority of the world, a lot of these facts come as no surprise from the country that ranks dead last in total water availability per capita in all of Asia. It is only natural for us as human beings to feel sympathy for the people of Pakistan. We as a species can only live for an average of 3-5 days without water, depending on weather and certain other conditions. To live in a country such as Canada, to have access at the turn of a tap to clean freshwater, we simply cannot even begin to fathom the thought of living in a...