A: It's not just drinking or bathing, says IEEE Spectrum magazine. Without water, we'd have practically no energy; and without energy, there would be no cars, planes, lighting, laptops or smart phones. Water cools the steam of thermal plants and allows hydroelectric turbines to churn. It brings biofuel crops from the ground and geothermal energy from the depths of the Earth. Plug your flashy smart phone into the wall, and about a half-liter of water must flow through kilometers of pipes, pumps and the heat exchangers of a power plant. That's a lot of money and machinery for a 6 watt-hour charge. In the U.S. alone on just an average day, more than 500 billion liters of freshwater move through the country's power plants. Or as water blogger Robert Osborne calculates it, a single Google search takes about half a milliliter of water, meaning the 300 million daily searches take 150,000 liters to power the data centers handling the world's idle curiosities.
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