The Ethics of Water | Christopher Meehan | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
Some 13 percent of the world’s population does not have access to improved water (about 910 million people).
For most Americans, few things are more easily taken for granted than the water tap. The ability to turn on any tap, anywhere, and receive clean, clear, potable water is a privilege to which we have grown numb. As one author states it: “For at the heart of the matter is society’s disconnection from water’s life-giving qualities. For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this immediate point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect…” 1 And although the author is alluding to our loss of respect for water, I would posit that we have also lost our respect for each other when it comes to water and its fair distribution, for although most of the developed world has access to clean water, approximately 87 percent, according to one source, 2; by contrast, then, some 13 percent of the world’s population, does not have access to improved water. Applying this percentage to the currently estimated world population figure of seven billion people means some 910 million people are without safe drinking water. This fact raises many ethical issues regarding water usage and distribution. Is everyone entitled to be given water no matter where they live? How much water is one entitled to use? Answering these kinds of questions requires a water ethic. This article hopes to raise an issue most of us take for granted, but one that is important, ethically and globally, and one which could be preached about and thought about from a more theological view.