In recent weeks, the Northeastern United States faced frigid temperatures and below zero wind chills. Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the state of New Hampshire, recorded ear-numbing cold and wind that felt like 89 degrees fahrenheit below zero. Water, and its interaction with moving air, forced tens of millions of people to change their daily routines.
At the outset of the cold and snow, municipalities spent a large amount of public funds to lay down road salt and deicing liquid across miles of highways and neighborhood roads. The measures are an expensive battle against time and traffic with the objective of making roads safer for citizens. As I write, my region of the country is coming out of its deep freeze and returning to standard winter weather. Roads are bleached white by tons of dissolved and crystallized salt that will eventually make its way back into the environment.
Americans spend a lot of money to both insulate itself from the effects of water in some forms and deluge itself in others. We are awash in the rich quality of life offered to us by great reservoirs of this life-giving material, and are at the mercy of air masses and powerful storms. On the whole, we are the great benefactor of excellent geography in certain areas and excellent engineering in others that make distance and chemical imbalances no obstacle to our voracious appetite for fresh water. We are blessed.
It is this blessing that imposes a mandate upon us. We are in a position to assist those that do not have access to such a system of fresh water as the Great Lakes. We have the technology to make whatever meager source they may have good enough to support life without endangering health. We have these tools, and we must use them. If we do not act, we label ourselves as complacent.
Water Aid is an internationally respected non-profit with the objective of making clean water and good hygiene the global norm. Find more info and donate at https://www.wateraid.org/donate.
The Pure Water Access Project is an accredited non-profit founded by Ohio State alums and staffed by current fellows at Ohio State. We aim to do good humanitarian work in the context of sound research. Find more info and donate at http://www.purewateraccessproject.com/donate/.
Fellow Nicholas Gawry contributed writing.