The big question when a planet is discovered is: is there water? If there isn’t water, there can’t be life. We depend on water as much as we depend on air. We also need a big amount of it to live; not only to drink, wash ourselves or cook. We need the biggest amount of it to produce food. If we pick a person randomly from any country and we calculate the amount of water that has been used to produce what he or she eats, we would come up with this figure: 4000 liters of water per day are required to produce the food necessary for that person to live a healthy life. 20 full bathtubs per day.
But water is a renewable natural resource. The number of H20 molecules that there are on earth and in the atmosphere is constant, but it does not stop flowing. When we use water, we usually pollute it. And when we use it again we would want it to be as pure as possible because our health, the lands we irrigate and industries require clean water. That is why we have to purify it, even if that costs Money. It is an investment that benefits us directly because a healthy environment allows us to live better and have a healthier life.
There is no life without water. Nature depends on its state and conservation. If we waste it extracting it irresponsibly from surface or underwater natural resources, it won’t be available for other people, uses or the living beings that depend on it.
Climate change is altering the water cycle: where it is scarce it will be even more so, where there is a surplus there will be higher risks of floods. It is highly likely that the extreme weather events will increase. That means we need to maximize the resource conservation, reduce the unnecessary consumption to a minimum and stop polluting it irresponsibly. We are all responsible.
Water is present but hidden in everything we buy, consume and need. There is nothing that can be produced without water; from an apple to a mobile phone. There is much more water we don’t see than the water that comes out of our taps at home or the water that comes out when we flush.
That is why; we have the moral obligation to preserve it for current use in our everyday life and for tomorrow, for future generations.
We can do a lot. The consumption of meat and dairy products in general requires a lot of water in relation with the energy and nutrients they give us. There is no need to stop consuming them as there is enough water for everyone, but it is essential to never waste them, throwing them away without thinking. This happens with any good in general but it is with food that the waste has more severe consequences. We must never throw waste in the toilet or use it for any other thing that is not its main function.
That is why, education influences significantly the way in which people uses resources, specially water. Through education and awareness, people become more aware of its importance and use methods to make a more efficient and sustainable use.
It has been proven that educated farmers in areas where there is a scarcity of water use more efficient water management techniques than those farmers who have not received an education. Moreover, in households like the ones in the urban and rural areas of India, it will be more likely for parents to use water purification techniques if one of the parents has completed his or her primary education and the odds will increase if they have completed their secondary education. Furthermore, in high income countries, people with high levels of education tend to save more water.
When we see a river filled with clean water, a fountain, we should feel a special and intimate emotion like the one we feel when we see a noble animal in its natural environment. But it is also an appeal to our conscience; we have to acknowledge how lucky we are to live on earth and the obligation we have to preserve it.
Alberto Garrido Profesor of Agricultural and Resource Economics from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain.