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If You Read One Article About Water on Earth, Read this One

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Written by John Campbell |

How much water is really on earth? When you look at one of the many photos of earth, it’s obvious that most of the planet is covered by the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. A quick Google search told me that 71% of the surface of the planet is water. No big surprise there. Just like you’ve heard before, a picture is worth a thousand words.

But, what does that really mean? We often hear and always stress the need to conserve this limited resource. But, when you see so much water, it can be difficult to grasp the magnitude and seriousness of that "call to be frugal," even though nearly everyone realizes that fresh water accounts for a small fraction of the total water on earth.

I ran across a graphic representation that the U.S. Geological Survey published on their educational resources website. It is - in a word - incredible. Here it is:

water on earth graphic
© U.S. Geological Survey


That big bubble does not represent all of the water in North America, it represents all of the water on earth. All of it. The small bubble next to it represents all of the fresh water on earth, and the tiniest bubble to the right of that contains all of the fresh surface water (lakes, rivers, etc.).

This powerful graphic emphasizes just how little water there really is, and how important it is to use it wisely and sparingly.

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