Reflections from a newsroom powered by water
Staff Editorial, Powering a Nation 2012
It’s essential. It’s life.
We don’t always see it, but water is everywhere. It’s in the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the electricity we use. Our ancestors evolved from it, and our bodies develop within it. We float on top of it and explore its depths. We wield it to propel our goods and power our civilizations. Water is life, and, without it, we simply would not exist.
Moment to moment, water finds a place in our memories and in our lives. We celebrate it in our fountains and amusement parks, and admire on its shores, banks and falls.
Water fills our spirit, but it also carries away our waste. It helps grow our food but it can also make us sick. We swim in its oceans, yet we cover it with miles of trash.
As far as we know, we’re the only living creatures in the universe, buoyed into existence by liquid water.
This year, the Powering a Nation team chose to explore how our most critical resource goes far beyond traditional power. More than fossil fuels, commerce or industry, water powers life.
When we started researching for this project, we had all heard that water was in trouble. A not-so-distant war was brewing over water; it was going to be the next oil; it was blue gold. But when we started asking questions, we realized how little we actually knew.
There is no countdown to the last gallon of water. All the water we have on this planet has been here for almost as long as the planet itself. While it cycles through phases and locations, there is a set amount on the planet. Scientists don’t know exactly what that number is, but they know it’s not changing.
We are the ones who are changing. The global population recently surpassed 7 billion, and humans have charted almost every square mile of this planet. Our cities have subsumed rivers, our farms have sucked up aquifers, our industry has turned streams into dams, and our lifestyle has altered our climate. We’re changing, and we’re changing our planet.
Our project is not meant to scare or guilt people into changing their behavior, but rather to encourage people to appreciate water and to better understand the issues surrounding it. The time has come for us to start thinking about water as a precious resource. More and more, issues of water scarcity and water quality affect people across the country.
“100 Gallons” is not meant to be critical of our consumption, but rather to engender critical thinking about it. Consider every moment you spend using water each day, then imagine your day without it.
We need water. All the water on our planet won’t do us any good if we can’t drink it, bathe in it or play in it. We need water to be accessible and clean. We need water for life.