Water is one of the most precious commodities on Earth — we need lots of it and we have very little of it. With population expected to climb to over 9 billion people by 2050 and countries like China industrializing at a rapid pace, demand for clean, usable water will only increase.
Since water is such an important, hot button topic, we’ve gathered together 5 beautiful, educational, and at times unsettling infographics about water and how we use it.
1. Where the Water Is
This great infographic from the United Nations Environment Programme, unearthed by blogger Scott Hacker, clearly shows where our water comes from. Earth may be called the “Blue Planet,” but just 2.5% of our water is fresh and only a small part of that amount is accessible to humans for drinking and other purposes.
2. Who is Using the Water?
Which countries consume the most water? This great infographic from the Virtual Water project smartly illustrates which countries are the thirstiest (the size of the circle equals total water consumption, while water drops represent virtual water used for imported and exported goods). A companion graphic shows which products take the most water to make. Be sure to check out the Virtual Water site to pan through a larger (readable) version of the graphic.
3. What We’re Putting in the Water
A huge proportion of the trash we throw out ends up in the sea — and not just what we throw directly into the water. Much of what we toss on land finds its way into streams, rivers, and other runoff points that eventually make their way back to our oceans. This poster from the Catalan Water Department cleverly depicts the types of trash that can be found polluting the Mediterranean, where the garbage comes from, and how long it lasts in the water before breaking down.
4. Where that Trash Ends Up
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a swirling vortex of trash and plastic in the Pacific Ocean that some estimates say is larger than the state of Texas and contains millions of tons of plastic. It’s only the most famous of many such garbage collecting ocean gyres around the world. The infographic below explains what it is, how works, and why it’s there in clear detail.
5. Why There Are No More Fish
With all that plastic in the ocean becoming fish food, it is no wonder fish populations are on the decline. But overfishing is actually the more pressing issue. This beautiful infographic from Good magazine illustrates the population fluctuations among some of the most popular (for food consumtion) types of fish.
Have you seen any other great infographics about water? Share them in the comments below.