On an illuminated wall in the American Museum of Natural History, three clear plastic tubes about 5-feet long and a couple inches in diameter automatically fill with water. In the first tube, a small amount shoots up, barely visible at the tube's bottom, representing the meager 3 gallons of water that the average Ethiopian subsists on daily. The middle tube fills about one quarter full, showing the more bountiful 30 gallons of water the average Briton uses in a day.
Both amounts pale in comparison when water fills to the top of the third tube and shows the astounding 150 gallons of water that the average American uses in a day.
This waste of one of Earth's most precious resources is a central theme of the AMNH's new exhibition, Water: H2O=Life. In the exhibition, visitors can explore the many facets of water: its astounding physical properties, its ability to shape ecosystems, landscapes and societies, the importance of conserving water and ultimately the fact that water is essential to life.
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