70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. 97.5% is salt water. The fresh water that humans need to live is far scarcer (not to mention all of the planet’s other plants and animals that cannot survive without fresh water.)
Only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh water. And of that 2.5%, most of the world’s fresh water is not easily accessible or available. A minuscule 0.4% exists in surface lakes and rivers and as humidity in the air. A whopping 69.5% is frozen in glaciers, snow, and permafrost. And another 30.1% is in underground aquifers.
As burning fossil fuels heats up the atmosphere, local climates are changing, often for the worse. In some areas, rainfall is disappearing, raising the specter of drought and crop failures; and in other areas, abnormally heavy rainfall has produced catastrophic flooding. Water Footprint has become an essential indicator of direct and indirect water use around the globe. This tool gives us a better understanding of how consumption of goods and services and production chains relate to water use and impacts on fresh-water systems. Visit http://www.waterfootprint.org
HYDRO-FRACKING FOR GAS
At the very time when we should be reducing the burning of fossil fuels to slow down global warming, the world’s oil producers are rapidly expanding fracking. In order to produce more natural gas and oil, drillers are forcing millions of gallons of toxic-chemical-laden water down wells into rock formations at high pressure. There are virtually no regulations addressing fracking, but EPA scientists have already found contamination of underground water supplies.
The United Nations has long recognized that access to fresh water is brutally unequal. Almost one billion people, roughly one person out of every 8, do not have access to clean water. In December, 2003, the General Assembly proclaimed 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Life.” On July 28, 2010, the General Assembly passed UN Resolution 64/292, The Right to Water and Sanitation, declaring that the United Nations: “Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” In the text of the resolution, the UN estimated that 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and that more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. The United Nation’s figures show that unsafe water kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. In September 2015, the General Assembly agreed on a stand-alone water goal (number 6), “Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”