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May 19, 2016. Life / A Gift of Nature

Fresh Water : The Essence of Life

In the coming decades, what we understand about freshwater ecosystems will determine the future security of humanity’s drinking resources, but more importantly, will also provide a blueprint for conserving one of the least known and most important ecosystems on the planet, freshwater

Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D, Nigel J.Collar, Dr. Tracy Farrel, Bárbara Goettsch, Vance Martin, Roderic Mast, Jeffrey A. McNeely, Cristina Goetsch Mittermeier, Russell A. Mittermeier, Fabian Oberfeld, Trevor Sandwith, Dr. Jane Smart, Dr. Richard Sneider, Gregory S. Stone & Michael P. Totten

A mere 0.3% of all the fresh water on the planet, or 0.0075% of all water (fresh and salt), is available to us and all species on Earth, including us, depend on a steady, clean, predictable supply of fresh water.

Humanity uses about twenty-eight cubic kilometers (km3) of water every day. Most dramatically, we appropriate vast quantities of water for agriculture and for uses in our homes and industries—an estimated 10,400 km3 per year, or approximately ten percent of the surface freshwater on Earth—.  This intensive water use impacts access and availability of clean water, which has serious consequences for people and for nature.

Society must be awakened to the fragility of our relationship to our precious and scarce water resources.

The value of ecosystem services is, of course, a factor in the real-world management of our natural resources.  Additionally, provisioning services, like water for drinking or water to grow food, are easy to recognize and assign value to.

Water management needs—in the face of global economic and climate change—to become a global priority.  A change in societal perceptions (especially as projected increases in human population range to more than nine billion people by 2050) is mandatory.

Our “life-support system” must be attended to, in every way, to ensure the ongoing biodiversity of our planet, the equitable use of our natural resources, the well being of future generations and the future health of freshwater ecosystems.


This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Conservation Series Book A Gift of Nature (2012).


A Gift of Nature

Twenty Years of Conservation & Photography

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