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Airdate: Jan 25, 2000 Scientist: Melanie Stiassny
If the earth's water was evenly distributed, we could probably support ten times the world's current population.
ambience: Running stream
We humans, like most other species, require water. But how much water and where it's found can mean the difference between drought, flood and survival I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.
"Now if that water was evenly distributed on the planet, basically we'd have no problem. We could probably support ten times the world's current population. "
Melanie Stiassny is curator of fishes at the American Museum of Natural History.
"But that water isn't evenly distributed at all. Some parts of the world have too much water. Look at the terrible flooding that we see so often. Other parts of the world have hardly any water. Africa is one of the driest continents on our planet and it's also one of the poorest continents on our planet and that is no coincidence. There's a direct correlation between water and human well being and life and economy. Currently, about six hundred million people live in the driest most arid parts of the world. So some of the highest population densities are found in some of the most hostile environments and that's a great tragedy for our species.
But it's also a call to action to use the limited supplies of water that we have more responsibly.
"One of the reasons that I have some hope for the future with regard to humans and water has to do with the fact that we use water so poorly now. We can do a lot to make the water that we have go a long way."
We're happy to say that you can now hear Pulse of the Planet online in streaming audio at nationalgeographic.com Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.