What answer does mankind have for plants starving without water?

I presented this speech for the first round in the competition 'Talk Your Way to Japan'.

Good morning/afternoon. I am Vishvak Kannan here to present the topic, “What answer does mankind have for plants starving without water?”I would like to start by quoting Mahatma Gandhi, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed".

All of us know how important water is. But do we ever stop and think about how we get the water in our homes? Do we wonder if our water consumption practices are hampering the growth and sustenance of plants? For a very long time, man has been at the pinnacle of many technological innovations and advancements. But in his hurry, he seems to have forgotten the other pristine forms of life that share the earth with mankind. We forget that we, being a part of nature ourselves, must work towards a mutually beneficial arrangement between nature and mankind. It is therefore imperative for us, as responsible citizens of a global community, to make sure that the water we use doesn’t deprive plants of the water they require. Water management practices are the need of the hour to ensure that we don’t end up depriving the flora their water. In addition to this, certain changes in people’s style of living are also necessary.
Water resource management is a key point of study for many conservationists and environmentalists. The urgent need is to either dedicate a fraction of the water available, to plants, or to look for alternate solutions to the serious problem of water scarcity. One such method is sewage water treatment. The sewage disposed from homes and commercial establishments can be treated to remove impurities and harmful materials and reused. Primary and secondary treatment of water can be carried out in waste water treatment facilities. This water will be suitable for plants and hence, this is a viable solution for irrigation problems.
Speaking of irrigation, a lot of water is wasted when plants are watered excessively. Conventional methods of watering plants include pouring water into the fields for a few hours till the water stagnates at a particular level. This is supposed to allow the water to seep into the soil. However, a lot of it is lost due to evaporation. A better method of irrigation would be drip water irrigation. In this technique, water is allowed to slowly drip at a constant rate at the roots of the plants using a properly channelled distribution system. It should have openings at appropriate intervals. This way, there is better uptake of minerals and lesser loss of water due to evaporation.
Eco-san, or ecological sanitation, is a novel method of water conservation in which human refuse is disposed of without the use of water. It involves diversion of urine to treatment plants and recycling of the water and nutrients contained in human waste back to the local environment. When properly designed, it is a viable, hygienically safe and economic alternative to conventional sanitation solutions. The wastes can also be used as fertilizer for plants after some processing. This has been tried and proved successful in many countries like China and Germany and is under pilot stage testing in some parts of India. If implemented, eco-san toilets can go a long way in preventing the wastage of many million litres of water a year, water that can be otherwise used by plants. Such changes in our way of living may also prove necessary in the long run.
Our lifestyles are very lavish, maybe even flamboyant, when it comes to utilizing the limited resources at our disposal. Deforestation is increasing at alarming rates and we fail to give back to nature what we take from it. This has to stop. (insert stats) To curb such practices, water-storing plants and plants that help sustain its environment by holding the soil and preventing soil erosion should be allowed to grow. A very good example of such a plant is the mangrove. As such, the planting and conserving of mangrove forests must be made a priority. Mangrove forests are known for its various advantages in water and soil conservation. In addition to these, they are known to prevent loss of property and life due to natural calamities such as floods and tsunamis.
Water conservation seems to be a much-spoken about topic that still fails to captivate most audience because many a times, people cannot relate to the problem at hand. I have seen people waste water in places where they aren’t “paying for that water”. The common man cannot see the big picture where all resources are global property and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to help protect it. On the bright side however, the current generation is aware of the importance of these pressing issues and works towards it.We must make sure that water is made available for plants. Water scarcity may also arise in a situation where there is plenty of water available but very little of it is usable. So we must strive towards protecting our resources and using them effectively and judiciously so that our successors, and theirs, can have a greener and healthier environment.

Thank You

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