Fifty years ago, when there were fewer than half the current number of people on the planet, the common perception was that water was an infinite resource. People were not as wealthy then as they are today, consumed fewer calories and ate less meat, so less water was needed to produce their food. They required a third of the volume of water we presently take from rivers. Today, the competition for water resources is much more intense. This is because there are now over seven billion people on the planet, their consumption of water-thirsty meat and vegetables is rising, and there is increasing competition for water from industry, urbanisation and biofuel crops.
The total amount of available freshwater supply is also decreasing because of climate change, which has caused receding glaciers, reduced stream and river flow, and shrinking lakes. Many aquifers have been over-pumped and are not recharging quickly. Although the total fresh water supply is not used up, much has become polluted, salted, unsuitable or otherwise unavailable for drinking, industry and agriculture. To avoid a global water crisis, farmers will have to strive to increase productivity to meet growing demands for food, while industry and cities find ways to use water more efficiently.
When then there is not enough potable water for given necessity, the threat of a water crisis is realized. The United Nations and other world organizations consider a variety of regions to have water crises such that it is a global concern.Other organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, argue that there is no water crises in such places, but that steps must still be taken to avoid one.
There are several principal manifestations of the water crisis.
• Inadequate access to safe drinking water for about 884 million people
• Inadequate access to water for sanitation and waste disposal for 2.5 billion people
• Groundwater overdrafting (excessive use) leading to diminished agricultural yields
• Overuse and pollution of water resources harming biodiversity
• Regional conflicts over scarce water resources sometimes resulting in warfare
Waterborne diseases and the absence of sanitary domestic water are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. For children under age five, waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases. According to the World Bank, 88 percent of all waterborne diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
Water is the underlying tenuous balance of safe water supply, but controllable factors such as the management and distribution of the water supply itself contribute to further scarcity.
It has also been claimed, primarily by economists, that the water situation has occurred because of a lack of property rights, government regulations and subsidies in the water sector, causing prices to be too low and consumption too high.
In Europe extensive loss of wetlands has also occurred with resulting loss of biodiversity. For example many bogs in Scotland have been developed or diminished through human population expansion. One example is the Portlethen Moss in Aberdeenshire.
On Madagascar’s highland plateau, a massive transformation occurred that eliminated virtually all the heavily forested vegetation in the period 1970 to 2000. The slash and burn agriculture eliminated about ten percent of the total country’s native biomass and converted it to a barren wasteland. These effects were from overpopulation and the necessity to feed poor indigenous peoples, but the adverse effects included widespread gully erosion that in turn produced heavily silted rivers that “run red” decades after the deforestation. This eliminated a large amount of usable fresh water and also destroyed much of the riverine ecosystems of several large west-flowing rivers. Several fish species have been driven to the edge of extinction and some, such as the disturbed Tokios coral reef formations in the Indian Ocean, are effectively lost.
In October 2008, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman and former chief executive of Nestlé, warned that the production of biofuels will further deplete the world’s water supply.
Water Scarcity – Wikipedia
When I drive around Gauteng, between Johannesburg and Pretoria I am often amazed at all the new development; estates upon estates, more houses, more people, more of everything except…..? Water. You do not need to think too much to do the calculations. PLease save water, use less, it is possible by recycling and harvesting, you don’t even have to change your lifestyle….