I began to write this post to tell you about a theory I had thought of a few years back, that bottled water might be having an effect on our global climate. The basic Idea was that if you think about how much water is bottled for individual sale it must add up to an incredible amount. And while that amount of water does eventually find its way back out to the water cycle, we are constantly bottling more to sell, and so there is a whole chunk of water that is perpetually out of the water cycle and in its own bottling cycle. I was convinced that, while not the primary cause, this ‘bottled ocean’ as I came to think of it must be having some effect on the environment.
But then I did some research, I wanted to have some comparisons for you so that you could the potential problems this absence of water might be having. Here are some of the results.
There is approximately 1.5×1018 short tons of water on the planet earth, which is a lot, it covers about ⅔ of the earth’s surface, so yeah pretty huge. As a comparison the entire human race weighs about 9.3×1011 lb, which is roughly 1/9 the weight of the “hydrosphere” as some are apt to call it. So how does this measure up to the world bottled water? Well I gathered some rough statistics of the estimated amount of water sold each year, and assuming that the bottling companies are gathering water at least as fast as they are selling the water, than that is roughly the amount that stays bottled on an annual basis. So I took that amount multiplied in the number of bottles per case, and the amount of water per bottle and got and pretty rough estimate for the worlds “bottlesphere”. Ready? …4.68×107 metric tons…
Now at a glance this seems to be a pretty large amount of water, but let’s gain some perspective shall we? Well the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake is 78,200,000,000,000 m3 and the worlds ‘bottlesphere’, when converted to similar units is … not so big. Okay so maybe not, the Biggest lake it the world, but surely bigger than some lakes. One of the worlds smaller lakes, number thirty-five by volume is Lake Nicaragua which is 108,000,000,000 m3, still about two-thousand times bigger.
So maybe this massive amount of bottled water will fare better in the realm of ponds, surely it can hold its own there. Well to begin with the world’s largest pond is in main, and is aptly named Great Pond, which weighs in at around 240,651,000 m3 or five times the 46,800,000 m3 that the world’s supply of bottled water comes in at. Now I am sure that there are ponds a great deal smaller than the world’s largest and that the ’bottlesphere’ probably does outranks a good number of them, but find statistics on them is tedious and time consuming and most would not leave much of an impression. So in an attempt to create so amount of sensationalism around my now clearly not so significant gleaming. I when a peg lower and looked up the world largest swimming pool. Ready? The world record holding swimming pool is located at the San Alfonso del Mar is a private resort in Algarrobo, Chile, about 100 km west of the capital Santiago, ranks at 250,000 m3 which is 180 times smaller than the amount of Bottled Water in the world! Ta-dah! Hooray!….
Well I guess its not so impressive really, and I have to be honest, this was a pet theory of mine for many years and I was actually very shocked to find out he sadly underwhelming facts behind in. I almost didn’t write this post after finding out, and was so dejected over it that it has taken about three weeks for me to get around to it. But you know this is the power of science, while the theory was cool sounding, and many of my friend s agreed “there was something to it”, in the end it was just a clever story the only sounded right. I had no facts, just a sense that there must be a lot of water out there in the store across the globe. Now, I know, I know that while there certainly is a lot of water in bottles sitting outside the water cycle, that it not even enough to fill a decent sized pond. While it does dwarf our other uses for water, like swimming pools, that is about what I’d expect, since we actually needs to drink water to survive and don’t really need to swim in it.
Anyways the point I am trying to make here is that, before you go hanging you hopes or expectations on some pet theory of your own creation, maybe you ought to do some research on the subject first, I was able to gather all of this information, including crunching the numbers and making the appropriate conversions over the course of just a few hours, and now not only do I know I was way off track, but I learned quite a bit about the worlds masses of water.
And that’s my take on the bottled “ocean”.