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Wet and Wonderful: World Water Day
Four unexpected ways you can be a better steward of the planet's most vital natural resource.   Photograph courtesy Blue Planet Run

Photo: Water

Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water. Even so, clean, accessible water is an increasingly scarce commodity for many living creatures. Today, March 22, we salute the 13th annual United Nations-sponsored World Water Day (this year's theme is "Coping With Water Scarcity"). Here are four ways to celebrate the liquid that gives us life.

—The Editors (Email us)


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A year ago, our own Dr. Extreme columnist, expedition doc Ken Kamler, wrote about the purifying potential of the Lifestrawa light-blue water filtration device that is only slightly bigger than a normal straw and could save billions of lives. For only $2-$3, the Lifestraw works like any normal straw, but filters out the pathogens that cause waterborne illnesses such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea—illnesses that account for roughly 6,000 deaths, mainly children, every day. Designed by the Dutch firm Vestergaard Frandsen, one Lifestraw can filter up to 700 liters (185 gallons), which is enough water to hydrate one thirsty human for one whole year. The best part? Donating a Lifestaw costs less than a latte. 

New Yorkers have a lot to brag about: food, art, sports ... and amazing tasting tap water. Now, for one day (not coincidentally, World Water Day) The Tap Project asks that diners pay $1 for a glass of tap water at hundreds of participating New York City restaurants. The money goes to UNICEF and helps fund projects to bring safe drinking water to children all over the world. Everyone else gets a certain satisfaction while New Yorkers put money where their (loud) mouths are.


Jacques Yves Cousteau said: "We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one." Taking his wisdom of the Earth's interconnectedness, industrialist Jin Zidell started the Blue Planet Runa round-the-world relay to raise awareness for the need for improved access to safe drinking water. Twenty runners, from all over the world, will cross 14,000-miles around the globe in 93 days, starting in New York City on June 1, 2007.

"More has changed on the planet over the past fifty years than in all of history—and we are largely the agent of that change," said legendary oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle (aka "Her Deepness") last week at the National Geographic Explorers Symposium in Washington D.C. The former chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Astmospheric Association explained that the world's water sources have reached a boiling point. The seas are warming and rising. Marine ecosystems are shifting. Over-fishing is emptying the oceans' bounty. What can you do? Plenty, but for starters: "Wild fish are bush meat," noted Earle. "Buy farm-raised fish instead."

Cover: Adventure magazine

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