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Introduction

 

Finding fresh water is getting harder.  For one thing, there are more people on the planet, and that requires more water for washing, growing food, and sustaining life.  All those people create a lot of waste, some of which ends up polluting rivers, lakes, and streams.  And companies that dump hazardous substances into the water make the problem even worse.


The water in your home is probably pumped from rivers and reservoirs.  The more water you use, the more likely it is that some beautiful valley will be flooded as a reservoir, or that some river will begin to run dry, killing the wildlife in and around it.  And the more dirty water you send down the drain, the more difficult it is for the sewage system to cope.  Accidental overflows of sewage can seriously pollute land and water.
 

 

What Pollutes the Water?

 

There are many, many sources of water pollution, some of which may surprise you.  We usually think of huge pipes dumping industrial waste into rivers, but only 10 percent of water pollution comes from industrial dumping.


To fully understand what pollutes water, it is first important to understand where your drinking water comes from.  Nearly half of all Americans and three-fourths of those who live in cities get their water from underground sources.  Underground water picks up whatever it passes through.  Rainwater and melted snow--running off parking lots, rooftops, streets, and farms--carry with them deadly substances.  During a storm, the pollutants are washed into rivers and streams.  And once they get into the water cycle, they never seem to leave.

 

One big source of pollution  is farmers.  Farming uses about two-thirds of all water in the United States.  Every year, millions of pounds of pesticides and fertilizers run off of farmland and contaminate the water supply.
 

How Much Do You Use?

 

It is difficult to imagine how much water is used in your home every day.  Here is a rough guide.

 
       
  1 flush of the toilet 3.5-7 gallons  
  1 bath 25-30 gallons  
  1 10-minute shower 50-70 gallons  
  1 washing machine load 25-40 gallons  
  1 dishwasher load 9.5-12 gallons  
 
  Try to figure out approximately how many gallons of water you use in your home.  If your home is typical, each member of your household uses about 80 gallons of water a day.  That's a lot of water, and the less we use, the better it will be for the environment.

What Can You Do?

 

There are two things you can do:  don't waste water and don't be a polluter.  Be sure to check out the Going Green in the Home section of this site to learn how to save water in your household.

 

Introduction

 

Because humans are the smartest creatures on Earth, we do pretty much what we want.  If we decide to kill other animals for their fur and skin, there is a little that can stop us.  If we want to cut down a forest to create a farm or a city, the decision is pretty much up to us.

 

We are beginning to that what we want to do isn't necessarily good for the Earth--and its citizens.  For example:

 
We cut down millions of acres of rainforests each year, mostly to create farmland for raising beef.  Some of the wood is turned into lumber, but most is simply burned.  Because trees are natural storehouses of carbon dioxide, cutting down and burning trees releases CO2 into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.
 
We cut down millions of acres of rainforests each year, mostly to create farmland for raising beef.  Some of the wood is turned into lumber, but most is simply burned.  Because trees are natural storehouses of carbon dioxide, cutting down and burning trees releases CO2 into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.
 
Many other species around the world are endangered, mostly due to human activity, such as building roads and cities.  Some are threatened because we consider them valuable or attractive.  Elephants are killed for their tusks; whales are hunted for the oils in their flesh.  Some plants are threatened when they are taken from the wild and sold to plant lovers.  If these species are not protected, they can become extinct.  Extinction is natural--since the beginning of time, millions of species have disappeared.  But since humans appeared on earth (we are relative latecomers), the rate of extinction has speeded up.
 

What Can You Do?

 

First, you can encourage your parents not to buy furs, ivory, corals, and other products made from endangered species.  You can also avoid certain pets that were bred in captivity.  Investigate the rest of this site to learn how to adopt an endangered animal and other ways to get involved.

   

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