The Last Drop – Michael Specter

From The New Yorker:

China has less than Canada”and forty times as many people. With wells draining aquifers far faster than they can be replenished by rain, the water table beneath Beijing has fallen nearly two hundred feet in the past twenty years.

…… Not even the miraculous scientific achievements of the twentieth century have affected human health and development a profoundly as has the ready availability of clean water. In modern countries, diseases that were responsible for tens of millions of death throughout history”cholera, typhoid, malaria”have essentially vanished. Their disappearance is due at least as much to the us of sewers as to any medical advance. Clean water has not only healed humanity but nourished it. Irrigation for agriculture account for more than two-thirds of all water use, an sophisticated water-distribution projects have helped increase crop yields to feed the earth’ surging population.

Despite those accomplishments, nearly half the people in the world don’t have the kind of clean water and sanitation services that were available two thousand years ago to the citizens of ancient Rome. [Full Text]

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