Crosscut: Local angles on the global water crisis

Seattle’s online magazine Crosscut has two articles today that take a local look at the global water crisis.


By Collin Tong  How Seattle helps with the world water challenge

Woman collecting water, Nigeria

Water is something most people in the Puget Sound region take for granted.  Yet in many developing nations, access to clean water and effective sanitation can spell the difference between life and death.

Unbeknownst to many, the Seattle-Puget Sound area is home to a cadre of nongovernmental organizations and government agencies engaged in projects abroad to assist the more than 783 million people who live without access to clean water in some of the poorest regions in the world. The local support for water and sanitation ranges from intensive nonprofit efforts in remote villages to major international undertakings and occasional consultations by government officials with colleagues in other nations.

Access to water is critical to good nutrition, a reality recognized by the World Water Day events here and elsewhere last month organized around the theme of water and food security. More than 70 percent of the water used globally goes towards agriculture.

One seventh of the world’s population, nearly one billion people, suffers from chronic hunger.  Over 3,000 children die everyday from lack of clean water.  Food production is dependent upon sufficient available water, which in turn requires reducing water pollution and promoting effective sanitation systems. Read more at Crosscut.


By Marsha Baskin  A Thirsty World has lessons for Puget Sound

Water runs our world yet we take it completely for granted. In his mind-opening new narrative, The Big Thirst, journalist Charles Fishman takes readers on a fascinating journey from the moons of Saturn to the hotels of  Las Vegas.

The golden age of abundant, free and safe water is over, says Fishman. The problem is most people in the developed world don’t know it. While he was in Seattle earlier this month, Fishman took time for an interview. An excerpt:

Baskin: Much has been written about the global water crisis. In The Big Thirst you prefer to talk about thousands of water crises happening all over the world. Some are from drought, others from climate turmoil, still others from insufficient water systems. Why did you take this approach?

Fishman: I think talking about the global water crisis actually has the opposite impact of what water people hope it will do. I think people have too many global crises. There’s a global economic crisis and a global climate crisis, a global health crisis. If you add another crisis people will throw up their hands and say I’m already waking up at 4:30 in the morning to deal with the crises I’ve got, I can’t handle another one. But also it’s not really true…. Read more at Crosscut


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.