Have you ever heard of Martin Strel? Beginning on March 22nd, 2016, Strel plans to swim around the world from Long Beach, California and back again- this will also be known as the Strel World Swim. It seems a pretty lofty goal, but Strel isn?t doing this just for exercise or to perfect his back stroke; the effort will be done to raise awareness about global water pollution while spanning 107 countries over 450 days. If a man is willing to swim that far for the sake of reducing water pollution we can safely assume this is a notable problem. But how far does it reach and just how many people does water pollution affect?
1. A Global Problem
As many of us learn in our beginner science classes, water covers as much as 70% of our planet and is an essential part of life. Unfortunately, over 147 million people on this very same Earth have no access to clean water, only the most basic of survival needs alongside food, shelter and clothing. In January 2015, this water crisis has been deemed the number one global risk based on societal impact by the World Economic Forum. Global water pollution is a problem that affects us all and should be regarded as such.
2. A Lack of Resources
The things that many of us take for granted in developed countries are impossible to find in other places in the world; running hot and cold tap water, a flushable toilet, sanitary plumbing and so on. As many as 1 in 10 people in the world lack access to clean water while 1 in 3 lack access to a toilet. Clean water and good plumbing make all the difference between a safe, sanitary environment and one that can only be a breeding ground for deadly diseases.
3. A Cause of Disease
Clean water is essential for more than just bathing and drinking. In countries with efficient plumbing and clean tap water, water-borne diseases are rare as are those that come about from lack of proper sanitation. In developing countries lacking this access, however, 80% of illnesses are linked to dirty water and poor sanitation. What?s worse, 1 out of 5 deaths of children under 5 years old is linked to water-related illness.
The importance of clean water access mustn?t be trivialized, as Strel?s around-the-world swimming goal would suggest. Clean water is essential to all healthy life on earth and must be considered an inalienable right, not a luxury.