Saturday, June 9, 2012

Think Before you Drink, by Sharon Powell

The most precious resources in the world are those many of us fail to appreciate, or consider when washing our hands, brushing our teeth, or simply watering the flower garden.  Think for a moment how our lives would change if our fresh water and lakes were threatened by disease causing a shortage in order to maintain our needs.  Where would we go?  Alternately, since every living organism requires water for survival, and outer space is not an option, all life forms would become extinct over time. 
     There are hundreds of bodies of water across the United States, but only fifty-seven major lakes and rivers exist within American soil.  Although there are more than seven hundred forty bodies of water on earth, many are of lesser value for sustaining human life when compared to fresh water.  Therefore, it is important for man to understand we are merely a visitor on earth when compared to nature and the environment.  It is crucial for us to preserve its natural beauty as much as possible.

Nature depends heavily upon rain and floods in order to decrease harmful bacteria and to wash away unnecessary elements posing a threat to plant and animal life.   When chemicals, or garbage such as plastic bottle or cans pollute our freshwater supply, we unconsciously threaten several life forms.  You might ask how harmful is a bottle or plastic bag to the environment?  Consider this!  When plastic bags or nets are left behind, fish and other life forms may become trapped inside and die.  When chemicals are dumped on land, they soak into groundwater supplies, where most all of our drinking water is conserved.  Chemicals cannot only affect our drinking water, but plant life is also damaged, creating difficulty for animals who feed off trees and forest life.  Environmentalists and government officials stress the importance of following the law when dumping refuse.  Strict regulations have been passed in order to maintain control of what could become a potentially dangerous situation for everyone. 

     Many forms of pollution occur from accidents, or disasters such as the Exxon Valdez Ocean liner, which struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska on March 24, 1989.  Eleven million gallons of crude oil leaked into the sea covering 1200 square miles of shoreline.  Before the oil could be contained with floating booms, thousands of fish and sea-life perished while 11,000 people were hired to clean and remove the oil from off the land and animals affected by the spill.

Scientist were unable to determine how many birds and mammals died in the spill, but it is estimated that approximately twenty whales died from eating fish containing crude oil, five thousand sea otters, half a million seabirds, and three-hundred harbor seals died before relief efforts were completed.  Many seabirds were coated with the thick oil, and required they be cleansed with soap and water before releasing them back into the wild.  This process sounds simple enough, but it can take more than two hours to clean oil from the feathers of one seabird or otter.

Protecting the environment and water supplies is everyone’s responsibility.  Doing your part to assure proper disposal of garbage is maintained is a sure way to say you care about life and the beauty found within it. 

1.) Donnelly, Andrew; Water Pollution, The Child’s World, Inc., 1999
2.) Bramwell, Martyn, Whitefield, Philip Dr., Ocean Watch, Protecting our Plant, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., 2001