Why Do We Get Just One Day?

That was the title of an e-mail I received two days ago from an organization called packH2O in the “Clean Water / Sanitation / Food” category of my website. They continued by saying: “Why is it called World Water Day when we use water everyday? We depend on water to hydrate ourselves, produce food, and manufacture goods. It’s the most important resource we have, which is why it shouldn’t be forgotten.”

World Water Day was on Sunday, March 22. I plead guilty by saying that I forgot it. No one else with whom I was in personal contact then mentioned it either. Perhaps these words I am putting together now might help compensate for my omission.

As is our normal custom, my wife and I went to church. Then instead of going back home to eat, we ate at a restaurant. The server brought us glasses of clean water, and there was no extra charge for it. Although I ordered a salad, it seemed that the most popular dish was large hamburgers, especially with cheese. The same is true in many other restaurants.

While writing this blog, I did an internet search about the amount of water required to make a quarter-pound hamburger (which you can easily do by entering the words “water needed to make hamburger” on Google. The result was astounding: 600 gallons. One pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons. A pound of pork, chicken, and goat requires 576, 486, and 127 gallons respectively. A gallon of milk requires 887 gallons, a pound of cheese requires 600 gallons, and a pound of coffee (making about 42 six ounce cups) requires a staggering 2,500 gallons. Tea comes in at only 8 gallons per standard cup.

Without question, people in the more affluent countries use far more water per capita than those in the developing world. Moreover, whenever I need water, I simply turn on a faucet or push a button, and it comes out automatically and safe to drink.

Contrast the situation that I and virtually everyone else in the U.S. and other parts of the more fortunate world have regarding water with what is a daily challenge for more than one billion people. Yes, it is certainly true that California and some other states in the American west are going through severe droughts (which I believe are strongly related to climate change), as well as the depletion of underground reserves in many places. Yet I have yet to hear of any contemporary American women and girls having to carry water on their heads or backs for several hours and miles each day — and then frequently having no assurance that the water is safe to drink.

The Bible refers to water 727 times, and it seems to be the subject of a news story nearly every week. It has been called the new gold or the new oil because of its value. We should also think of it more often. Yes, it does deserve more than just one day.

Postscript: after writing the above, my TIME Magazine (April 6, 2015) came with this dire prediction: “40% of the world’s water needs will not be met in 2030 if current trends continue, according to a U.N. report warning of economic upheaval and new conflicts unless global policies on water change.”

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