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Fact: We hear all the time that “only” 2% of the water on Earth  is fresh and available for human use—only 1% if you exclude glaciers  and polar ice caps. It’s true, it’s just not very meaningful, and it’s misleading.
About 97% of the water on the surface of the Earth is in the oceans.  But the oceans aren’t a static pool of unusable water—they are a vast  desalination system, making water for human use every second of every  day.
The ocean and the atmosphere, with the help of the sun, are  moving around volumes of water that are truly stupendous—measured in a  standard unit rarely heard outside the world of geology and atmospheric  science: the cubic kilometer.
That “only 1%” figure is designed to galvanize us. But if it ever struck  people as dramatic, it’s lost it’s power. As well it should.

Charles Fishman continues to unpack staggering water facts in his Fast Company series, The Big Thirst based on his upcoming book of the same name.

Fact: We hear all the time that “only” 2% of the water on Earth is fresh and available for human use—only 1% if you exclude glaciers and polar ice caps. It’s true, it’s just not very meaningful, and it’s misleading.

About 97% of the water on the surface of the Earth is in the oceans. But the oceans aren’t a static pool of unusable water—they are a vast desalination system, making water for human use every second of every day.

The ocean and the atmosphere, with the help of the sun, are moving around volumes of water that are truly stupendous—measured in a standard unit rarely heard outside the world of geology and atmospheric science: the cubic kilometer.

That “only 1%” figure is designed to galvanize us. But if it ever struck people as dramatic, it’s lost it’s power. As well it should.

Charles Fishman continues to unpack staggering water facts in his Fast Company series, The Big Thirst based on his upcoming book of the same name.

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