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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: The global costs of a lack of clean water

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  • I have often marveled at the advancements that have been made just in my lifetime alone. I remember being in high school and the teacher asked how many students had a microwave oven in their home; about three raised their hand. She then said that within 15 years almost all Americans would own a microwave oven. I remember thinking - “No way!”
    It was about 1992, I was working for the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Forestry Division goal was within five years every forester would have a computer on their desk. At that time we were all sharing one computer for the whole office!
    Now, not only do most office workers have a computer at their desk, many households have at least one computer, many schools have computers in every classroom. Most colleges have computers for every student, and use tablets instead of textbooks.
    After knowing all of this - I find it astounding that nearly one billion people do not have access to clean water! How can we even fathom what this number really means? According to the website, www.thirsttees.com, it looks like this:
    • More people have access to a cell phone than a toilet • One in eight people drink water that will make them sick (count all of your family members, or group of friends, figure out how many of them would get sick) • Every 19 seconds a child dies from a water-related illness; this is the equivalent to a jumbo jet full of children crashing every four hours. • Ninety percent of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are children under the age of 5. • Women and children have to walk three hours every day to collect water in a jar weighing 40 pounds - this is equivalent to carrying two car tires for three hours. • Time spent collecting water is time NOT spent in school, earning an income, or taking care of family. • In Africa alone, the overall economic loss due to lack of safe water and sanitation is $28 billion; the huge American conglomerate Wal-Mart, has an annual profit of $11 billion. • Africa alone could save 40 billion hours of work with access to clean water; that is the entire annual workforce of France! Maybe with that list, which could have been longer, you can see the costs that affect Africa, India, and South America. Is it amazing to you that the ancient Romans had cleaner water than half of the people alive today?
    What can you do about this problem living in America? You can purchase Thirsttees - a T-shirt that gives a percentage of the purchase price to an organization, Thirst Relief International, that builds wells and biosand filters which provide enough clean water for one person for 25 years. Go to http://www.thirsttees.com/collections/tees
    Page 2 of 2 - Imagine that - buy one T-shirt, and that purchase will provide enough clean water for one person for 25 years! That, my friend, is how you can “Think Globally and Act Locally!”
    Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net  .

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