National Geographic's April 2010 issue is devoted to a single topic -- fresh water. "Water: Our Thirsty World," available on newsstands beginning Tuesday, March 30, is a far-reaching exploration of and essential primer on the state of the world's fresh water and the global implications as supplies of this finite resource are threatened. An interactive version of this special issue is also available as a free download from March 22- April 2 at www.natgeofreshwater.com.
Consider these stark realities:
- A mere 3 percent of Earth's water is fresh -- 2 percent is locked up in snow and ice, while just 1 percent is liquid surface water and ground water, available for consumption.
- Nearly a billion people have no access to clean water, and 3.3 million people die from water-related health problems each year.
- Freshwater animal species are disappearing in general four to six times faster than land or sea animals -- in the United States, nearly half the 573 animals on the threatened and endangered list are freshwater species.
National Geographic's April issue not only celebrates the role of water in our lives and landscapes but also identifies the key challenges affecting global supplies and examines novel solutions to address water scarcity.
Providing insight into the key freshwater issues facing us today is a team of renowned National Geographic contributors who offer unique perspectives to such topics as the spiritual meaning of water; the effect of melting glaciers on Asia's greatest rivers; how access to a faucet could transform the lives of millions of African women; the California water crisis; the tense face-off over water in the Middle East; and a rescue plan for freshwater fish. The roster includes authors Barbara Kingsolver, Tina Rosenberg, Brook Larmer, Elizabeth Royte, Don Belt, Joel K. Bourne Jr., Douglas H. Chadwick and Cathy Newman, and photographers Edward Burtynsky, Joel Sartore, John Stanmeyer, Lynn Johnson, Jonas Bendiksen and Paolo Pellegrin.
Complementing six feature stories and two essays are shorter pieces that cover such topics as water and ice in outer space; using the sun's rays to disinfect water; collecting water from fog in Peru and rainfall off rooftops in Colorado; new desalination techniques; the rapidly evaporating Aral Sea; pharmaceuticals in drinking water; a turfgrass that thrives on brackish water; and the world's largest swimming pool. National Geographic's trademark maps and award-winning graphics are featured throughout the issue. Also included in the issue is a two-sided supplement, with a map showing all the river systems in the world plus a look at how much water it takes to produce common items that we eat and wear.
A special Web site at www.nationalgeographic.com/freshwater launches March 15 and will offer a portal to more information, interactives and success stories.
In conjunction with the single-topic April issue, the National Geographic Society has named Sandra Postel its first Freshwater Fellow. Postel, director and founder of the Global Water Policy Project, has worked in the field of sound water management for 25 years. She will head a National Geographic-led, multiyear project to motivate people across the globe to care about and conserve fresh water and the extraordinary diversity of life it sustains.
"We'll raise awareness through films, books and presentations. And we'll point to solutions that will meet human needs while protecting freshwater ecosystems. Our hope is to implement the most far-reaching effort in dealing with the challenges posed by this precious and finite resource," said National Geographic magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Johns.
A photography exhibit based on the April issue runs March 26-June 13, 2010, at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. On World Water Day, March 22, National Geographic will co-host an event examining water sanitation and health around the world at National Geographic's headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Photographic coverage and reporting for the Water issue were supported by grants from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Honorable Marilyn Ware.
National Geographic magazine has a long tradition of combining on-the-ground reporting with award-winning photography to inform people about life on our planet. In 2009 it won a National Magazine Award for Photojournalism and was nominated as a finalist in four other categories, including General Excellence for a magazine with a circulation over 2 million. The magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world's largest nonprofit educational and scientific organizations. Published in English and 32 local-language editions, the magazine has a global circulation of around 8 million. It is sent each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $5.99 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call for membership in the Society.