Posted by: COSI | August 5, 2008

Water, Water, Everywhere?

COSI Ocean Exhibit

COSI Ocean Exhibit

One of the favorite guest areas at COSI is our Ocean exhibition, and the overarching theme is water (you can see it from the wet children that come out of there at times! 😉

Yet our planet’s limited freshwater resources are not something I hear much talk of locally. Maybe it’s because we have not been hit as hard with drought in the Central Ohio area as in other regions like the Southwest. The scarce water resources hit home when I was visiting my sister in Las Vegas recently and she took me on my first trip to Hoover Dam—impressive from not only the extreme scale of the engineering effort, but from the “bathtub ring” high up on the walls of the canyon where the old water line used to be.

So I was intrigued by a recent article in Discover magazine regarding water use.

In the Better Planet column of Discover, they bring forth the concept of “virtual water” – essentially meaning how much total water is represented in a food, drink, or product that you enjoy. Fascinating revelations—did you know that meat requires 5 to 10 times more water to produce it than vegetables? So if you want to reduce your demand on the world’s water, you’d switch to eating more vegetables and less meat.

Throw out left over coffee or food and you’re not only wasting it directly, you’re wasting all the water that went into its production—I never thought of it that way.

Doesn’t sound like maybe such a big deal until the article brings out that today agriculture amounts to 70 percent of all water use in the world and up to 95 percent of water use in some developed countries.

The article also touches on some of the geopolitical aspects of all of this as fresh water becomes one more limited resource that we’re putting pressure on with our growing world population and shifts in lifestyles.

P.S. One of COSI’s new projects is to develop a watershed lab that will help our guests and those taking our programs to understand the connection between our local watersheds (including those that feed the Scioto right alongside of us) and our oceans. The lab will logically be located adjacent to our Oceans gallery. I’ll let you know when we launch its programs next year.

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