Why Water Is Important to Life
We know how important water is to human life and also, because of agriculture, how important it is to plant life. But what about the earth in general? How important is water to the ecological balance of the earth? What role does it play and what would happen if we were to lose it or it didn't exist?
There are already parts of the world where we can see how life would change, if there were no water. We can also see it somewhat from satellite photos of Mars, the moon, and other "dead" space bodies. And we can extrapolate from the properties of water, itself, and what we know of its effect on life.
Water is a constant reminder that life repeats. It's the only element that has a visible cycle.
Earth Without Water
Imagine earth without water. The soil, with no water in it and nothing growing on it, would be lifeless, dead, collapsed into dust, sand, clay or rock. In California's Central Valley where agriculture predominates and pulls water from the ground, this process is already beginning to happen. The earth used to be like a sponge, but where the groundwater has been sucked almost dry, like the Central Valley, the earth has collapsed and hardened. This is the process we call "subsidence."
Earth Would Look Like This:
Now imagine the air without water. Clouds provide a buffer from the heating power of the sun. Without them it would pour down with no mercy. Dry air would suck out whatever moisture it could find, wherever it could find it, and the noses and soft tissues of any being that lived would shrivel. There would be no sweet scents, since moisture is what conveys smells.
The composition of the air would change too. All the methane currently stored in ice, bogs, and the ocean, would be released, thereby increasing the heating effect of the sun. The dust in the air would be blown hither and yon, with nothing to wash it down. Temperatures would swing from extreme to extreme, getting hotter as time went on.
The ground, because it would be rock, sand, or dry earth would have nothing in or on it to blunt the heat. The sun, pouring down without mitigation, would beat on the earth and heat it up. Any carbon-based thing would burn up during the day. At night it would freeze.
There would be nothing to soften the effect of volcanoes or to put out fires. There would be no cushioning effect against earthquakes. Any rubbing of tectonic plates against each other would be magnified far beyond what it is now - the trembling would create massive rock slides and crumbling both at the site and in remote areas affected. The surface of the earth would burn and grind itself into dust. Am I exaggerating? Most likely not. The article below talks about earthquakes and the softening effect of water underground.
The Hydrologic Cycle
Water is a life giver - even a life creator. It lies at the basis of our understanding of how life works. It also lies at the basis of how we understand our own personal lives. Of the four (or five) basic building blocks of life, water is the only one with a visible cycle, which we call the hydrologic cycle. Fire has no cycle that we can see, neither do earth or air. And we don't understand spirit (the ether) enough to know if it does or not. Water is a constant reminder that life repeats.
The hydrologic cycle works as follows: From it's most usable state, water evaporates and joins the air as water vapor. When the air cools, the vapor condenses and creates clouds, which help block heat from the sun. Colonies of the ice-nucleating bacterium, P. syringae, blown into the clouds by wind, help them to precipitate and fall as rain, snow, or hail. Much of the precipitation is stored on land as groundwater and lakes, snow and ice. From there water flows to the sea, where it joins the "primordial soup" again as ocean, ready to start the cycle anew.
Here are many of the roles that water provides, both for the earth and for humans—that help produce the abundance of life we see around us every day. Without even one of these our lives would be far different.
Water Stabilizes Temperature
Water helps keep the temperature of the earth even—cooling it when it heats up and warming it when it cools down. When the temperature drops low enough, water freezes, releasing its own heat and warming the frigid air. When the temperature rises high enough, water evaporates, taking some of the heat with it and cooling the hot air. It also cools the heat of volcanoes and wildfires, via moisture released from burning vegetation, which forms clouds that cool the air and then release rain. And water in the ground cools the surface of the earth during the day and warms it at night.
Without water the air and earth would vacillate between extreme hot and extreme cold every day, everywhere, with a gradual increase in temperature as time goes on. Part of the problem with global warming could be that we are using up too much land water and throwing rain away into the sea.
Water Cushions & Softens
Just as water in a waterbed has a cushioning effect with any movement, so it also has when buried in the earth. This cushioning is good protection during an earthquake, proven in seismic studies, when the groundwater slows down seismic waves and dampens their effects.
Water also softens the soil, making it easier for rain to percolate through to refill the aquifer—the earth's underground storage space. When stored groundwater is sucked up and not replaced, the soil gradually condenses and becomes hard. Then water slides off the top, instead of being absorbed, and the earth loses its storage place and its shock protector.
The softening effect of water is also evident in the way it prepares seeds to grow. Many seeds have hard covers that keep them from growing until water is present. Water softens the seed cover enough for the little shoots to break out, then the soft soil, mixed with organic matter, provides a perfect medium for the shoots to grow into full-fledged plants.
Without water most seeds would be too hard to grow, and the ground would be too hard or sandy to absorb and hold rain. Without water storage, droughts would kill, and earthquakes would be severe.
Water Enables Transportation
Throughout the earth and the bodies of living things, water is used to transport both nutrients and wastes. On land, water transports nutrients and rich soils from the mountains to lower altitudes on the way to the sea. In the ocean, water currents disperse nutrients throughout the world.
Humans use waterways to transport goods via boats and barges. Water in plant sap and blood transports nutrients and wastes to and from cells. In the human and animal brain water transports electrical charges, which allow us to think clearly.
Without water there would be no dispersal of nutrients, electrical messages, or mass transit of goods and services that help life prosper.
Water Cleans and Breaks Down Wastes
Rain cleans whatever it passes through (air, the earth's surface, soil), which is why everything smells fresh after a rain. It carries down dirt, debris, minerals, and toxins, washing all into the sea. Once in the ocean, algae and other microbes break the debris down (except plastic) into basic food components that can be used to support life. The ocean thereby becomes a primordial soup, filled with nutrients of all kinds. From the ocean life was born.
Water also plays a cleansing role in our own bodies, as it passes through the cells of our body and transports wastes to the kidneys. The kidneys send some of the water back into our blood vessels, and the rest carries toxins to our bladder, where it collects until there's enough to let go.
Without water the earth and our bodies would be unable to break down wastes.
Water Enables Reproduction
Water is a key component of birth—the reproductive cycle of all animals mimicking the life-spawning ocean. In mammals, sperm are carried by water to impregnate the egg. Once impregnated, all nutrients in a female's body that a baby will need are carried by water (amniotic fluid) to the womb, before leftovers are distributed to the mother. Babies are born with a gush of water and are immediately fed with water that is nutrient rich. Birds produce eggs that are mostly water mixed with nutrients for the growing life inside.
Without water there would be no reproduction, hence continuation of life as we know it.
Water Provides a Home
In addition to being the soup from which life emerged, the ocean and other water bodies act as home for more life than what lives on land. Mammals, fish, birds, insects, trees, plants, algae, krill, and many other forms of life either live directly in water or are wholly dependent upon it for survival. This includes the tiny iceworms, copepods, and diatoms that inhabit trillions of minuscule tunnels in icebergs and their undersides, providing food for whales and fish that migrate to the poles to eat.
Without water life would lose its primary food source.
Water Helps Make Things
Water and carbon dioxide are the two key components of plant photosynthesis, which is how plants make their food. Bees use water to make honey, flowers use water to make nectar, trees use water to make pitch, spiders and snakes use water to make venom, and termites mix saliva with mud to make their homes.
Humans use water to make paint, dyes, inks, all kinds of drinks, and we bottle it straight. We use it for paper, fabrics, food processing, chemical compounds, and the manufacture of hundreds of other products essential to modern living.
Without water, plants and many insects and arthropods could not survive, nor would humans have developed the foods and industries we have.
Caring About Water
To humans, as creators of our own lives, water is our servant. We use it to grow crops and livestock, to cleanse and keep ourselves healthy, to stimulate ideas for products, and to transport those products. We use its cycles to remind us that our own lives also work in cycles.
But if we abuse water, like masters have a tendency to do with servants, if we don't care for it and preserve it, we will end up destroying ourselves. We need the rain forests, the swamplands, the open rivers and lakes, the estuaries, icebergs, snow tops—water in all its natural forms we need. And so does the rest of life.
If, instead of commanding it, we could conceive of ourselves as a partner or an intelligent component of water's own rain and storage cycle, it might encourage us to be more respectful of what water can do and more careful of the way we utilize it.
With water, we thrive. Without water, there is no life. We must learn to value, conserve, and take care of the water we have.
Questions & Answers
I need to start a project on the importance of water. Where should I start?
Start by reading the articles referenced in other answers I've given. Then do some brainstorming. Get a paper and pen and write in the center "importance of water." Circle it. Now close your eyes and breathe deeply for a second to get centered.
What does that phrase remind you of? Draw lines out from your center circle and write single words or short phrases that come up when you think of the term "importance of water." You might write at the end of one line, "drinking." At the end of another, "keeping plants alive" and so on.
If drinking reminds you of other things, like health or blood flow or something else, draw a circle around "drinking" and add more lines out from it, putting the new words at the end of each line.
Then go back to the very center again and do the same with the next word that "importance of water" reminds you of. You'll end up with something that looks like a big spider web.
Now, look at the entire web. Do you like the way it's organized? The web helps you organize your paper. You can use it for an outline that flows naturally from the way you think. Each main word can be the title of a section, and all the words are radiating out from it can be the information that goes into that section.Helpful 29
I need to write an essay on the essence of water, sanitation, and hygiene to human life. What are some practical examples?
Children in third world countries who are skinny and dehydrated, often with flies hovering around their eyes, are good examples of kids without access to water. You see photos of them in the news all the time. Also look up what's happening to the folks living in Flint, Michigan, who've been dealing with lead in their water for several years. There was an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease there recently, for which government officials are now being sued. Try this article, for starters: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dr...Helpful 25
What should I say in a paragraph that explains why water is important to the Earth?
This article you just read has several parts to it. One of the first parts talks about the effect that water has on the earth, and what the Earth would be like without it. All you have to do is summarize what you read here in one paragraph. As you summarize, you may think of a few other examples. If you do, add them, so your paragraph is original. If you're not sure about one of the examples you thought of, do a little search and see what you find. Then add that bit to your paragraph. Be sure to include links to this article and the other one (if you find one you like).Helpful 18
What is the importance of the hydrosphere?
Hydro means water. Sphere refers to the environment. So the hydrosphere is the oceans, rivers, lakes, groundwater, clouds, rain, everything to do with the earth's supply of water. That should answer your question. Without it we wouldn't have life.Helpful 15
Why do we need water in our everyday life and how long can we go without it?
Why we need water is answered in the article and subsequent questions people have asked. How long can we go without it? Anywhere from two days to a week. In hot weather, shorter. If you exercise a lot or work a physically strenuous job, shorter. If you're sedentary, longer. If you eat a lot of food with lots of liquid in it, like watermelon or grapes, longer (since they provide some of the water we need). There are lots of factors involved, including size, diet, climate, and more.Helpful 10