The Double H2O Face of Climate Change

Published 18th November 2010 - 0 comments - 4205 views -


The most precious commodity on the planet.
It is the very substance we humans evolved from and it is something we simply can’t do without.
Our bodies are build up out of water for about 57% (Textbook of Medical Physiology/Guyton) and without a regular intake of water our bodies will experience dehydration. As we all know, severe dehydration can lead to death.

Our blue planet is for roughly 72% covered in this vital liquid. But there is a problem: 97% of all water on planet Earth is salt water and since we evolved from jelly fish into walking mammals, we also ‘forgot’ how to use salt water to stay alive.

David Gallo from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) made an interesting image that puts the planet’s water situation in perspective:


But it is not so much the fresh- vs. saltwater quantities that are the problem, it is how these quantities move under the influence of climate change. (Let alone what we do pollution- wise to those few drops of fresh water!). Some fertile regions get swamped, other fertile regions dry out, all with the same results. Less crops, less fresh water and an enormous impact on the local populations

Wet feet

Salt water levels are, under influence of melting polar ice, rising. For a rich country like my own, the cost-benefit analyses of dikes is, although expensive to execute, something it can afford. But not all states have a vault full of cash. Take Bangladesh.
Already one of the poorest nations in the world, it can hardly afford what the Dutch can. Not only is there a severe shortage of money, also the technical skill to turn the rising tide is minimal.
The good thing about being human and not a jelly fish is that we have learned to think. Watch this video about an ingenious local initiative in Bangladesh. (Source: LinkTV from ViewChange.org)

The floating school initiative is great. Whether initiatives like this will prevent more water-harm to an already poverty stricken nation has to be seen.  At least it is a good start.

Dry throats

Are some countries getting their feet wet, there are others that wished they had more water instead of less. The eastern part of Africa, especially from Kenya northwards, has been experiencing less and less rainfall over the last century. Crops fail, cattle die and the lifestyle  of the pastoralists in the region is under serious threat.
To live in Ethiopia in 2010 means that many have to walk up to six hours to fetch fresh water.
Like in Bangladesh, a new initiative brings some relief in Ethiopia. The ‘data-collecting initiative’ enables people to act and prepare themselves before being thrown into another spell of drought. (Source: LinkTV from ViewChange.org)

It doesn’t matter what the water is doing. Whether it floods your land with sea-salt or that it leaves your fresh-water wells dry, the impact is almost identical.

With the polar regions melting at an increasing speed and fresh water turning more salty and sea-levels rising, let’s hope that the smallest dot in the first image will still be there in the future. If not, I would rather be a jelly fish.


  • Remember my personal information

    Notify me of follow-up comments?

    --- Let's see if you are human ---

    What is missing: North, South, West? Add a questionmark to your answer. (5 character(s) required)