We humans are complex organisms. We can survive up to two months without food, but when it comes to water, it is just up to three days before we are done. Amazing!
Let’s start with food, because everyone loves good and tasty food. But what if you don’t have any?
First, your body starts to use up the stored sugars. These primary reserves are in your muscles and liver. Once they run out, your body starts to convert fat into ketone to produce secondary energy. Once these secondary reserves run out, the body needs to utilise the tertiary choice; the protein. This comes from your muscle mass.
So yes, we can manage quite a while before all these reserves are used up. But it is not such a case with water. Because our bodies are made 60-70% of water and we keep losing it through urination, sweating, pooping, and even breathing, the process is much faster.
After 2% of our body weight is lost, the thirst kicks in. This is to remind us to drink, but at this stage the body starts to conserve the remaining water – like the flood gates are closed. Less water gets into urine. Less perspiration and your body temperature rise. This rise of the inner temperature can cause overheating in time.
As the outside temperature rises, and we are required to continue our daily lives, especially the physical aspects of it; we can start to lose up to 3 litres of water per hour.
We have the tendency to faint due to the lack of water, which makes the blood pressure drop. If the situation continues, our organs begin to suffer and eventually shut down.
But if you live in developed countries, getting water to drink is not even a chore; just turn on the tap and voilà! Water. It is such an automation that we waste perfectly good water in huge quantities to flush the toilets, brush our teeth, do the dishes… and at the same time there are roughly 1.1 billion people who don’t even have an access to clean drinking water, and another 1.6 billion people who have difficulties to finding water for at least one month a year.
If the human body reacts this way to the lack of water and food, what about the world? Recently, I read a news article from EuroNews as part of my research for this blog. I didn’t know that Europe had been in drought since 2018. And the situation is, sadly, expected to continue. To make the situation worse, the meteorologists are expecting this coming summer to be hotter and drier than the last one, especially in the Mediterranean countries, such as Spain, Italy, and Southern France.
It is a vicious cycle that we are facing, and I think there isn’t a simple solution for this. But, as with everything else, we should all be doing our part in conserving the natural resources.
The dry summers don’t just make it more difficult to plant and cultivate crops, but also increase the possibilities of bush and forest fires. The above photo is from last year when a fire was started on the Mijas mountains near Benalmadena, Spain, at about 10 am. By noon, the fire had crept over the mountain, and this could be seen from Alhaurin el Grande, where the photo is from. To make matters worse, the photo was taken by my Wifey, who was due to fly back to Finland the very same day. When the fire spread over the mountain, the local municipalities closed the main road between Alhaurin El Grande and Malaga as the fire crept down towards it.
In the end, it took the firefighters almost a week to get the fire put out. This spring, there was already one fire on the same mountains. Luckily, the fire services and locals acted fast, and the fire didn’t manage to spread. But what about the next one?
Back in school, I learned that bush and forest fires are good for the soil and plant growth. But if these fires happen more and more frequently, combined with droughts, can nature benefit from them anymore? And what about us humans? If the crops suffer first from dry spells and then there is a bushfire that decimates the crops, what then?
We need to act now. Everyone of us.