Water shortages are a growing concern in many regions of the world. Some parts of the United States are experiencing rapid population growth that outstrips the ability of local systems to provide adequate water to all. Many proposals are being discussed to relieve these shortages, including longdistance transfers; conservation; the recycling of some water, such as the water in office-building air conditioners; and the sale of water by regions with large supplies to areas with less available water.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.1 billion people do not have safe drinking water and 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation. Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water about 0.007% of all the water on Earth is readily accessible for direct human use.
Groundwater pumping and the diversion of water from lakes and rivers for irrigation are further reducing the amount of water available to local communities. In some
Plastic water bottles are a huge source of pollution. The most environmentally friendly way to quench your thirst is by drinking filtered tap water from a reusable, washable bottle. If you buy bottled water, be sure to recycle the bottles.
A good way to cut your home’s energy use, lower your energy bills, and reduce your environmental footprint is by using energy-efficient lightbulbs, commonly called compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs).
According to the EPA, CFLs are cost-efficient because they use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent lightbulbs. Although CFLs initially cost more than regular lightbulbs, over the long term they save money for the user. This is because they use less energy by requiring less electricity to produce light. For example, a 15-watt CFL is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent lightbulb. CFLs also last up to 10 times longer than conventional lightbulbs. The EPA says that if every American home replaced one incandescent bulb with a CFL, enough energy would be saved in one year to light 3 million homes. It would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to the output of 800,000 cars.
In some countries, consumer reluctance to switch to CFLs has resulted in government action. Australia and Canada have instituted bans on incandescent bulbs. Many other countries are contemplating similar measures, and various organizations are lobbying for the use of CFLs.
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In spite of their positive attributes, compact fluorescent bulbs have a downside: They contain a gas that includes low-pressure mercury and argon. Mercury vapor from broken bulbs can harm babies, children, and pregnant women, and the bulbs can pollute the environment if dumped in the trash. If all the CFLs currently in use were disposed of in landfills, they could generate about 30,000 pounds of mercury that could eventually leech into the groundwater system. For this reason, it is best to take your burned-out CFLs (and all fluorescent bulbs) to a recycling center for proper disposal instead of tossing them in the trash.
Even though the amount of mercury in a single CFL is very small, you should take extra precautions when cleaning up a broken bulb. If a CFL breaks, shut off the central heating/air conditioning system, open a window, and clear all people and animals out of the room for at least 15 minutes. Put on rubber or latex gloves, and carefully pick up the large pieces of glass. Put the pieces in a glass jar that can be closed with a lid or in a heavy-duty plastic bag that can be sealed. Gently sweep up the small pieces and dust using a broom and dustpan. You can use duct tape to pick up fine particles. Seal everything up (including your gloves) in the jar or bag, and take it to a recycling center for disposal. areas, groundwater is being removed at twice the rate at which it is replaced. Due to agricultural diversions, the Yellow River ran dry for the first time in China’s 3000-year history in 1972, failing to reach the sea for 15 days that year; now, the dry period extends for more than half of each year. In the United States, the Colorado River is now diverted to the extent that it no longer flows into the ocean.