Water is a chemical substance (H20) composed of hydrogen and oxygen that is considered essential for the survival of all known forms of life. Water refers to the liquid form of the element but it can be solid as ice or gaseous as in steam and water vapour. Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, found mostly in oceans, lakes and other bodies. The saltwater oceans hold 97% of surface water, glaciers and polar ice caps around 2.4% (now decreasing) and other land surface water such as rivers, lakes and ponds 0.6%.

Clean, fresh drinking water is essential to life; however some experts estimate that by 2025 more than half of the global population will face water shortages. As water plays a vital role in the world economy with agriculture consuming around 70% of our freshwater, we should not take it for granted but use it very efficiently.

It’s been well-known in the western world for a long time that in countries like some of those in Africa people struggle to find sanitary drinking water. Sometimes they have to walk miles each day to a well or stream; sometimes charity drives build wells in villages for families. All too often, though, children die because the water is not safe for them to drink. Meanwhile in the west people complain during a hot, dry spell because of the hosepipe ban or the rising cost of water.

Water is a global necessity, but it is also a global problem. A reconnection to nature, and specifically the power of water, is necessary if humanity is going to ride out the next few decades. Take the watermill, for example. This large wooden structure used to be built over a river, letting the power of the flowing water turn it, which would in turn cause a set of millstones to rotate, grinding wheat into flour. It was, like the windmill, an essential aspect of the agricultural process.

Today, after decades and decades of coal power and electricity, there is a demand to return to using natural resources like water to power many of humanity’s needs. It’s easy to picture the terrifying power of an angry sea; imagine if we could harness that energy. And the best thing is, it’s an infinite resource: the sea will always rage and waves will always crash.

Water is life-giving, but it can also be a dangerous element. Recently, as part of the process of global warming, we have experienced more extreme changes in weather conditions. Flash floods have become more common, and not only do they take lives, but the destruction they leave in their wake costs millions to clean up and repair. For centuries man has wanted to tame the seas, but this arrogance has been rebutted time and again; and below the surface of the sea, it is estimated, there is still so much to be discovered if only we have the suitable equipment.

Water is also a beautiful, fascinating element. Waterfalls around the world – Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe), Angel Falls (Venezuela) and Niagara Falls (Canada/United States) to name just a few – draw hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, and it’s easy to see why. The noise and the power is enough to take your breath away.

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