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The importance of water

Water is the most important liquid on earth. In the ground, but also in the air that we breathe. All animals, plants and humans need water to survive. Water prevents the earth from becoming too hot or too cold. Without water there would be no life on earth.

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Water has always been important in the daily lives for people. They use water in their houses for cooking, bathing and washing the dishes. Water is used to grow food. In dry areas farmers must bring water to the fields through canals and irrigation systems. Also industries and factories use water.

Water is used to produce energy. Power stations burn coal which turns water into steam. Countries with many mountains and rivers use the power of water to produce electricity.

Three-quarter of the human body is water

Up to 75% of our human body is water. Water helps us digest food. Our body also needs water to help carry away the substances that we don’t need any more. Water regulates our body temperature so that it always stays the same. Although we can live without food for a few weeks without water we would die within a few days. A normal human needs about 2 to 3 litres of water a day to survive.

Only 3% is fresh water

About 97% of the world’s water is in the oceans. 1.4 billion cubic kilometres is salt water. Only 3% is the freshwater in lakes, rivers and glaciers.

Much of the world has enough fresh water but there are regions that are too dry and don’t get enough rain. Develoing countries often don't have enough water for their growing populations. Other areas do not have enough water because people waste it. 

The Water cycle

When the sun heats up water it becomes a gas and evaporates. As it rises it cools down and form clouds in which are many very small droplets of water. When they get too heavy they fall down to the ground as rain or snow.

Although some of this precipitation rises directly into the atmosphere again most of it gets into the ground and remains in aquifers. Snow and ice remain on glaciers and ice caps until it gets warmer. When it starts melting the liquid flows into rivers and lakes.

Water has shaped the surface of the earth for many years. It causes erosion, makes mountains smoother, rivers carve themselves into valleys and makes them wider.

                                                           

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