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Water is indispensible to planetary life and human civilization. Only 2.5% of Earth's water is fresh, with two-thirds of that locked away from man's use in ice caps and glaciers, and most of the remaining one-third inaccessible in underground aquifers.
"When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water." - Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac
Our planet Earth is unique amongst the solar system in that it is 70 percent water – it contains abundant surface water in all three of its natural states – solid ice, gaseous vapor, and most important, flowing liquid. Its pervasiveness and unique molecular qualities have shaped the history of all life on Earth and make it one of Earth's most potent agents of change.
Water has always been man's most indispensible natural resource and stands out as the Earth's only self-renewing vital resource through the Earth's desalinating water cycle of evaporation and precipitation in the atmosphere. However, the constant total volume of accessible, self-renewing freshwater is tiny in comparison to the planet's total water. Despite that, the overall supply of freshwater has been sufficient to provide all of the water needed to support mankind throughout the entirety of human history – until today.
Today, freshwater scarcity is one of the 21st century's most critical and threatening challenges and is driving new political, economic, and environmental realities across the globe. Far more than any other natural resource, the control and management of water resources throughout history has been pivotal to the rise and fall of great powers, economic prosperity, the transformation of vital habitats, and the quality of human life.
Water's variability in terms of its presence and absence is deeply and inseparably interrelated to the global crises of energy, food, and climate change. This present and looming freshwater crisis is an early warning sign of the ultimate challenge of learning how to better manage the Earth's resources in both an economically viable and environmentally sustainable manner.
The NCSD is dedicated to identifying and implementing the most innovative, practical and sustainable solutions for improving water resource management so as to address the global water challenges of today so as to mitigate the growing risks that water scarcity poses for the future.
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