Are you one of my intellectual readers? One of those people who wonders why they keep coming back to a blog that talks about Lady Gaga more than USAID?
If so, I implore you to hit the back button. Pretend this post never happened. It’s okay because you already know everything I’m going to talk about. You know that over a billion people go without clean water. You know how essential water is to human life. You know that as water becomes scarcer, the idea of an international water war becomes likelier. Come back in a few days, I’ll have something new, astute, and worthy of our shared intelligence.
The rest of you—we need to talk.
Okay. Are they gone?
Today is Change.org’s Blog Action Day 2010. Thus, today a lot of blogs are talking about water. Why? “It’s an environmental issue, an animal welfare issue, a sustainability issue. Water is a global issue, deserving a global conversation,” says Change.org.
So let’s talk water. But let’s talk water and celebrities. Let’s talk nearly naked celebrities covered in water.
(Consider none of this safe for work.)
I want you to learn something, though. I can’t just go handing out pictures of half-naked celebrities all willy-nilly. You click on the correct answer to my questions, I’ll reward you. I need to have some semblance of substance. Water is a serious issue, after all.
1. You’re wearing a shirt. Ryan Reynolds is not. That t-shirt you’re wearing took liters and liters of clean water to produce. You monster. Take off your shirt! How many liters of water is Ryan saving by not wearing a shirt?
a. 938 liters b. 1,514 liters c. 2,200 liters d. 6,386 liters
2. I am a vegetarian. Angelina Jolie is not. This clearly makes me an infinitely better humanitarian than Angelina. You may call me a carrot killer, but my vegetarianism is also conserving water. How many liters of clean water does it take to produce one hamburger?
a. 6 liters b. 12 liters c. 18 liters d. 24 liters
3. On television, Shemar Moore profiles serial killers. Unsafe water isn’t a serial killer, it’s a mass murderer. How many children under the age of five die every week because their water is unsanitary?
a. 25,000 b. 38,000 c. 56,000 d. 120,000
4. Everybody poops. Even Megan Fox. Where does all of our excrement go? Some of it ends up in the ocean. Where people swim. In bikinis. I’m just saying. How many tons of human waste are dumped into water sources every day?
a. 700,000 tons b. 1.5 million tons c. 2 million tons d. 3 million tons
5. Proper sanitation is important. That’s why Alexander Skarsgard enjoys a nice, long soak in the bathtub. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the same gothic facilities (and adorable waitresses) as our vampiric friend. How many people worldwide lack access to toilets?
a. 435 million b. 950 million c. 1.3 billion d. 2.5 billion
6. In the future, San Francisco will be better known as the capitol of the United Federation of Planets than for the Haight-Ashbury. There will still be hippies. Bottled water, at least, will be a thing of the past. Today, though, how many bottles of water does the average person—like, say, Zoe Saldana—drink per year?
a. 130 bottles b. 200 bottles c. 365 bottles d. 400 bottles
Pretty and pretty disturbing, right? Something as vital to sustaining life as water, something many of us take for granted, is a rare commodity for over a billion people. Without it, bodies suffer, livelihoods suffer, and the environment suffers. Clean water isn’t just an element that our body needs, it’s an element the earth needs.
When other countries and other people have elements we need but don’t have, there’s usually only one way we humans solve that problem. Over at UN Dispatch, Alanna Shaikh says, “So far, we haven’t seen a international water war. We’ve been able to solve water conflicts through economic and diplomatic solutions.”
That doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. Shaikh continues:
Water for hydropower is one of the drivers of the Kashmir conflict, and it’s not the only water conflict dividing India and Pakistan. Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are in constant, fraught negotiation over the Mekong River. Water scarcity exacerbated the violence in Darfur and the Rwandan genocide. Egypt and Sudan could break into a shooting war any time now over the waters of the Nile.
Water is a major factor in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and it’s driving Middle East tension in other countries. Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine fight over the Jordan River, while Turkey, Syria, and Iraq contend for the Tigris and the Euphrates.
International water disputes start between communities. Providing clean water to individuals and families will defuse the potential for conflict and competition over scarce water resources.
I’m not talking about shipping in bottles of water. Organizations like Oxfam America specialize in providing communities with sustainable water and sanitation solutions. Others, like Greenpeace, advocate for cleaner oceans and safer water sources. Check out Change.org’s partner organizations to see what other organizations are doing.
Think of Megan Fox. Think of her swimming in a sea of filth because we couldn’t take a moment of time to think about water. To think about its significance. Don’t let tragedy strike. Don’t take our celebrities’ bikinis away.