LET ME SAY OUTRIGHT: I don’t believe there’s a global water shortage. Science tells us that every drop of water on earth is part of a closed loop (remember the hydrology cycle?) that’s been around for millions of years. The exact same amount of water that was here those millions of year ago is still here today.

The horrible drought in California is counterbalanced by abundance in other parts of the world (like we’ve had in the US South this winter).

The key then is to begin thinking about water not on a world scale but in terms of availability and (especially) consumption at the local level. Start with something as relevant as how you consume water each day, such as illustrated in the video above. The problem with water isn’t shortages, but how “invisible” most of our consumption is. Notice how much water is hidden in the energy it takes to “work” just sitting in front of these computers.

And note especially how much water is used to provide you with that hamburger whether it’s from Whole Foods, Cost-Co, or the local market.

Everywhere on earth experiences cycles of drier and wetter years. That will never change. The problem comes when we don’t understand our own “address” within our local watersheds, and don’t take responsibility beginning there. Those who know this better than anyone are the ranchers and business operator in the US West, a naturally arid region where fights over water rights have gone back to the days of original settlement claims.

These fights continue to present day and as population grows, they become more important than ever. Take for example H.R. 3189 or the Water Rights Protection Act, a bill introduced in the House in 2013. The bill’s author, Representative Scott Tipton of Colorado, designed it around the argument that the federal government should be prohibited from “taking” privately held water rights, such as those owned by Ski Resorts across the country. But if the bill were passed, the government’s ability to monitor and control the amount of water left in rivers and basins for both recreation and environmental purposes, would be eroded.

So as with everything it comes down to being informed and understanding how laws at every level affect you. Do you have a vested interest in the success of the ski industry? Or do you side with less private water consumption for recreational purposes? Do you eat meat? If you do, where does it come from? How much does it cost to produce?

And as always, the more you can make your food security, water security, economic security independent from anything beyond local systems, the more your own life is a direct “answer” to these “global problems.” Thoughts?

Feature image by crowt59.