National Geographic : 2010 Apr
EDITOR'S NOTE PHOTO: LYNN JOHNSON As a chemical compound, nothing could be simpler than water: two atoms of hydrogen joined to one of oxygen. From a human point of view, simplicity fades. Though water covers our world, more than 97 percent is salty. Two percent is fresh water locked in snow and ice, leaving less than one percent for us. This "precarious molecular edge on which we survive," as Barbara Kingsolver says in this month's special issue, will only grow more precarious. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live where water is scarce. In the pages to come, we bring to life the drama behind that statistic. And this is only the start of a larger commitment, at the magazine and throughout the National Geographic Society, to explore the world of water. To that end, the Society recently named Sandra Postel its first National Geographic Freshwater Fellow. As a researcher, lecturer, and writer, Sandra has worked in the field of sound water management for 25 years. The initiative she heads will not only educate; it will "reshape how people and communities think about, use, and manage fresh water. It will provide the tools to enable individuals, corporations, and communities to become part of the solution," Sandra says. Through the National Geographic website we'll provide information, interactive tools, and success stories. We'll raise awareness through films, books, and presentations. Our goal is to lead a far-reaching effort to meet the challenges posed by this precious and finite resource. In Shakana, Ethiopia, Halike Berisha must fill her water jug from a contaminated reservoir.