World Water Day: Earth’s Dwindling Drinking Water Supplies

You might have missed it. I know I did. I just found out today from Goodshit, but March the 22nd was World Water Day.

I remember being told at school, which was a long long time ago now, that every hour three people on the planet die by suffocating eating their food. Either choking on a fish or chicken bone, or getting a mouthful of food caught, or on berries or fruit seeds. That would have been some 45 years ago. At the time this impressed me so much that I can clearly remember the teacher holding up one of those huge volumes from Encyclopaedia Britannica with her finger pointing to the item—not that a single one of us had any chance of reading anything on that page from where we sat.

I did a couple of Google searches to try and find the latest data. While I did find out that, apparently, 100 people die from choking on ballpoint pens every year (here), I was unable to find new numbers on how many people die from choking while eating food.

I also found out that the top three foods related to choking deaths are nuts and dried fruits (which is sort of pretty obvious), fruit and vegetable chunks (a bit less obvious), and bones or bone fragments in birds and fish (which I thought would probably have been at the top of the list). Also in the Top 10 were cereals, un-chewed meat, and alcoholic spirits (although I am not sure this last one should really be included as a food).

About a third of food related choking deaths are attributed to talking or taking a breath through your mouth while eating. This is probably where the age old adage of “keep your mouth shut while you are eating” comes from. It is basically a safety tip.

But anyway, this post is not about choking while eating. It is about how the drinking water supply on the planet needs some attention.

Seven people die every minute from either a lack of drinking water or from drinking bad water. So that is 420 per hour which is about 10,000 per day!

So, to sum that up, 10,000 people die every day because of the lack of suitable drinking water.

In 1965 it was estimated that about one percent of the water on the surface of the planet was suitable for human consumption.

In 2010 the estimate was 0.85 percent. So between 1965 and 2010 we somehow destroyed or used up 15 percent of the world’s above-ground fresh drinking water; and due to climatic changes or the way it was ‘destroyed’ (poisoned) it either cannot be replenished or de-contaminated using current or foreseeable technologies—it is gone.


A key factor here is that there is no replacement for water. Without sufficient fresh water just about all land-based plant and animal life will die.

The problem is not so much how much water we are using. The big problem is the amount of surface water we are polluting to the point it is no longer able to be considered safe for humans to drink or cook with, or for stock, or to grow crops.


So . . . albeit a day or two late, I have done my bit in raising water awareness for World Water Day. If you would like to read more you can check out:

  • The World Water Day feature at The Atlantic (here).
  • World Water Day at UnWater (here).
  • World Water Day on Wikipedia (here).
  • The UK Guardian’s World Water Day in pictures feature (here) from which the two images I have included above were ‘borrowed’.
  • The United Nation’s World Water Day page (here).
  • Finally, the item in Goodshit that alerted me to World Water Day called “Here Comes the Water Wars” here.

As a young adult I recall someone famous being quoted as saying something like “the next world war won’t be fought over oil or food, it will be fought over water”. I’m not too sure about this. At this stage I think my money would be on oil, or possibly on religion.

On that note I think I will go and get my first cup of coffee for the day using the beautiful filtered water from our gravity filter water thingy (I don’t know what to call it).