It has almost become a cliché to call water ‘our most precious resource’. Yet how much do we truly value it? Much can never be expressed in monetary terms: what price a sunset over the Caribbean? But when we do look at monetary values, it’s difficult to sustain the case that water is indeed our most precious resource: where I live, one penny will buy me 4.5 litres (about 1 gallon) of tap water; currently, I’d have to pay 630 times as much for the same amount of gasoline. Even if I were to buy bottled water, that would still only cost me about a fifth of the cost of gasoline. (This, I must add, assumes I’m not daft enough to pay £ 135.00 for 4.5 litres of the ‘designer’ bottled water Berg, as sold at Claridge’s in London.)
So on sheer price terms, we value gasoline up to 630 times more than water – which is why water engineers can only dream about using the fancy well-drilling techniques which are used routinely in the oil industry. And beer is valued even more highly: about 1,900 times the cost of water! So much for water being our ‘most precious resource’!
For all that, there is never any shortage of folk who will argue that, given water tumbles gratuitously from the sky, it should come to them free of charge. My answer to them is: ‘Fine: stand out in the rain with your mouth open, and you can have it for free; but the moment you expect someone else to gather and deliver it, expect to pay, at least in a country that has abolished slavery.’
Already we have acknowledged that water has multiple, parallel, even disputed, values. To study water comprehensively, we must engage with many disciplines. For sure, we need to understand the science of water, and how we go about using it. But we also need to cherish its ecological centrality, and deliberate on its social importance. Accordingly, this book sets out to explore all aspects of water, in its myriad manifestations and prodigious paradoxes. The level of coverage is introductory, but the ‘100 Ideas’ at the end of the book should orient anyone wishing to explore specific topics in greater detail.
H2O – the molecular marvel
An extraordinary, everyday molecule
For decades, H2O was the only chemical symbol enjoying instant recognition by most people. Since the rise of concerns about climate change CO2 has become almost as familiar – although many journalists still don’t seem to realize that, in both cases, the ‘2’ should be a subscript! But what does H2O really stand for? Well, ‘H’ is the chemical symbol for the element hydrogen, and ‘O’ is the symbol for oxygen, so in every water molecule, two hydrogen atoms are bound to one oxygen atom by the sharing of their electrons: hence ‘H2O’.
Now, that you know the molecular theory behind this precious life resource, don’t forget to save this precious gift for your future generations. Feel free to call your water supplier at Thames Water Contact Number and they will guide you with some of the most pocket-friendly and easy deals on how to save water in your daily routine lives by following simple acts.