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Shocking USGS Image Shows How Much Potable Water We Actually Have Available

(c) USGS

The USGS (United States Geological Survey) has published a post on their water-related website that shows an amazing 3D rendering of actually how much water exists on Earth and how much of that water is potable.

You can see the results on the left – they shocked me. The blue sphere floating above the Earth contains¬†332.5 million cubic miles (mi3). If you look at it as a number only, the figure is huge, but compared to our dried planet’s volume, it’s just a drop in the “ocean.”

The diameter of the water ball imaged by USGS is 860 miles, which is equal to the distance from Los Angeles to somewhere in mid Texas. Huge.

However, taking the potable water from this ball only results in a much smaller “drop” of water just over 34 miles in diameter, since 96% of the entire water is contained in seas and oceans, hence salty.

We’ve been taking water for granted in most parts of the world, although some are thirsty and some even die because of the lack of it in other parts. Our consumption only reduces the amount of water available for drinking, and polluting it reduces that amount even more.

Not only the air needs to be clean for life to thrive, but also water. Imagine that every drop of water you drink reaches your blood in a few seconds and then enters every cell of your organism within another few seconds. That only means that every drop of water you pollute with toxic substances can enter your child’s body or even your own at a later time, even if you purchase it in a bottled form. We’re all responsible, so let’s act like we know that.

If you can be directly responsible for your family’s life while driving on a busy road, you should think of all the other ways that you should be responsible indirectly. And the act of preserving water as clean as possible, even if it’s not visible by anyone, is a sign of a highly moral attitude.

[via usgs/gizmodo]

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  1. For those that are wondering what size sphere would be required to hold the fresh water accessible to humans, I updated the USGA image and posted it here: http://8020vision.com/2012/05/15/how-much-water-is-on-earth/

    The image you link to doesn’t look right. The sphere is too small. Perhaps they are not including ground water. They link to their definition of freshwater, but it is a dead link. So hard to know what their assumptions are.

    The USGS says that about .75% of the earths water is freshwater. That yields a sphere with about 20% of the diameter of an “All Water” sphere.

    Jay Kimball
    8020 Vision


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