While there is much discussion about the dwindling supply of oil, and the degree of price rise that will occur in the next 20 years, a more critical problem is present in the world today, the limited supply of fresh drinking water, a situation with dire consequences.
Exploring the Issue
The topic of fresh water came up recently during a discussion with a close friend, and the following day he sent me his copy of Blue Plane Run: the Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World.
It’s an amazing book, one that I couldn’t put down. Stunning photographs accompany stories of how water issues are affecting people’s lives on a daily basis. As tragic as some of the stories were, what struck me most was the difficulty of comprehending the overall statistics.
- 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water.
- 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
- Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffereing from water related illnesses.
- Some 6,000 children die every day from disease associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene – equal to 20 jumbo jets crashing each day.
- The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is six kilometers.
Two thousand years ago there were 300 million people on the plant. Within the next 50 years demographers expect that number to grow to at least 8 billion – the majority of whom will live in developing countries – yet the amount of water we all share and depend upon remains a constant.
Water Usage Rates
Much has been written about the discrepancy between per capita energy consumption in developed countries vs. developing nations, and that same paradigm exists when it comes to water usage.
- The average person in the developing world uses 2.64 gallons of water a day.
- The average person in the United Kingdom uses 35.66 gallons of water per day.
- The average person in the United States uses 132.50 gallons per day.
Not only do we use 50 times the amount of water per person per day compared to the developing world, but our answer to continued economic growth at home is to encourage those same countries to expand their economies, which further increases overall usage.
But beyond the pages of this unique book exists a unique organization. In 2002 industrialist and philanthropist Jin Zidell created the Blue Planet Run Foundation. His vision was to provide safe drinking water to 200 million people for the rest of their lives by 2027. Ambitious for any one individual, this is a project that no country has ever undertaken.
Since 2004 the foundation has funded 18 non-governmental organizations worldwide which have in turn implemented 142 sustainable water projects in 14 countries impacting 137 thousand lives. The Foundation’s signature awareness and fundraising event, the Blue Planet Run 2007, was the first-ever around-the-world relay run.
The Blue Planet Run 2007
On June 1, 2007, on the steps of the United Nations in New York City, the Blue Planet Run 2007 team of 20 elite runners from 13 nations set off on a non-stop relay around the world through the U.S., Ireland, the U.K., France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan and Canada. Over the next 95 days these runners covered 15,200 miles through 16 countries. The Baton was passed and their message was read at more than 1,500 exchange points along the way.
The video below is an edited version of the film by Polly Green documenting Blue Planet Run 2007.Running For Water. A film by Polly Green. Water crisis and project footage by George and Beth Gage. Music by Mark Steele.
The Blue Plane Run book can be ordered online. One hundred percent of the royalties from this book will be used to provide clean drinking water to people around the world who desperately need it. You can also join their Facebook group.
The topic of fresh water constitutes one of our most significant and complex global challenges, and Global Patriot will be devoting more time and energy in the months ahead highlighting the issues, as well as the individuals, organizations and governments around the globe who are working on solutions.