How so? According to my research since 2002, the single biggest source of human squandering of our water supply is how we have chosen to eat in the western world. And there is no doubt in my mind that the single most powerful action that we humans could take to alleviate our water shortage and pollution problems around the world would be a deliberate move in the direction of a plant-based diet.
Most readers of VegSource probably already know that, but the vast majority of highly educated people in the western world don't. Like 95% of the people in this country, they believe that we humans truly "need" to eat animal protein in order to be healthy.
As such, there are prominent, well-meaning organizations out there whose mission is to save the world's water resources, yet they don't even know where to start. One of those organizations is right here in southeastern Connecticut: Mystic Aquarium (founded in 1973), it is now a part of Sea Research Foundation, Inc, a non-profit charitable organization whose primary mission is essentially saving the oceans of the world. From their website:
Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit institution. The Foundation's mission is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.
Recently I met with a representative of their board of directors to discuss ways in which they could raise more funds to support their mission. Of course, being a "big picture" guy, I wanted to talk about the "education" portion of their mission and how much of that education included identifying the single largest source of damage, waste and pollution to our water supply.
I then told him about the movie 2009 HOME -- a powerful movie that illustrates the staggering damage that the human race has inflicted on the fragile harmony of planet Earth in just the last fifty years. And much of that disruption has involved our water supply -- which has been finite for billions of years.
I recommended that he and his board schedule a special meeting to view that movie together -- and I offered to lead a discussion following the movie. That 93-minute movie can be viewed online for free on the video page of my website. Just click here and scroll to the bottom of that page.
While watching that movie for the first time in February, I heard a fact that I'd never heard before; that is, the volume of water on our planet has been constant for billions of years. All generations of humans and creatures have drunk the same water. The volume never changes, but how it is used changes all the time. The key to life on Earth is a fragile harmony that nature constantly seeks to maintain.
Looking at our planet from outer space, water takes up most of the view prompting us to think that we'd never run out of water. But in the last century, humankind has seriously disrupted that fragile harmony and now, we're experiencing water shortages and pollution all around the world. Consider these alarming facts:
1. More people using more water per person. There were less than one billion on the planet just 300 years ago; now there are seven billion.
2. It takes 100 liters of water to produce one kilo of potatoes...it takes 13,000 liters of water to produce one kilo of beef.
3. More meat consumption. The world is now raising 60 billion animals per year for our dinner tables. That number is going up rapidly as the developing world mimics the unhealthy, destructive, water-guzzling and unsustainable western diet.
4. Mountains of MANURE. In just the U.S., the solid waste produced by animals we eat each year is 1.37 billion tons -- a staggering amount, much of which pollutes our rivers, streams and oceans.
5. Even with no population growth, we would need to raise 300 billion animals per year if the entire world shifted to our incredibly wasteful diet-style.
6. More and more fertilizer and pesticides used in the meat production process add to the ever worsening water pollution problem.
7. The world population is still growing rapidly...adding another 197,000 people every single day -- equal to the population of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
8. The amount of water required to produce ten pounds of beef is enough fresh water to provide for ALL of the household needs of a family of four for a full year.
At what point do the intelligent and responsible citizens of the planet recognize the "blinding flash of the obvious" here and realize that the bizarre picture described above simply cannot continue much longer? When do we stop to consider what we are leaving for our own great-grandchildren and all future generations?
Born in mid-century, most of the mess in which we find ourselves was generated on my watch. As the movie HOME reported, humankind in just the last 50 years has disrupted the fragile of harmony more on this planet than all of the previous generations of humans since our species emerged some 200,000 years ago.
That is sobering, sad, and scary -- and it makes me embarrassed to be a part of the human race that has run roughshod across our beautiful planet for my entire life. And I have been a part of that problem. Now, I have dedicated the rest of my life to being part of the solution. How about you?
From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day…
—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at hpjmh.com