Water Scarcity and its Impact on Planet Earth

According to the United Nations, over 700 million people worldwide lack access to safe and clean water. More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.  Over 300,000 children under 5 years old die every year from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. Today, humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste


Water Scarcity and its Impact on Planet Earth

The world is currently running out of precious, clean drinking water. Water is vital for all known forms of life. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

How Much Water Do We Have?

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. 96.5% of all the Earth’s water is contained within the oceans as salt water. If salt water makes up 96.5% of all the water on earth, it means there should be 3.5% which is fresh. Although it’s technically true, close to 69 percent of the freshwater is frozen in glaciers and ice caps.

Where surface water, such as lakes and rivers, are scarce or inaccessible, groundwater supplies many of the hydrologic needs of people around the world. Aquifers are underground layers of rock that are saturated with water that can be brought to the surface through natural springs or by pumping. The groundwater contained in aquifers is one of the most important sources of water on Earth. Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Despite the fact that water makes up almost three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, our planet is lacking sufficient available water resources to meet the needs of all of the planet’s inhabitants.

Our dependence on underground aquifers can have significant environmental and social impacts, such as groundwater quality degradation, damages to infrastructure from land subsidence, and loss of habitat to groundwater dependent streams and wetlands. Added to this, in 2015, NASA revealed that 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers had passed their sustainability tipping points – meaning more water is being removed than replaced from these vital underground reservoirs. Underground aquifers supply 35 percent of the water used by humans worldwide.

Human Activity and Water Crisis

Human activity is responsible for global water scarcity, with animal agriculture being the primary source of water depletion. It is estimated that just one pound of beef requires over 1,000 gallons of water, which includes irrigation of the grains and grasses in feed, plus water for drinking and processing.

A Sustainable Future

Ancient civilisations started trying to improve the quality of their water over 4,000 years ago, and people today are sampling various techniques, such as desalination and rainwater harvesting, with the hope that they can meet the world’s demand for water.

However, in order to address global water shortages and protect planet Earth, a fundamental change will be required, particularly within the industrial and developmental sectors.

Water is essential for promoting inclusive sustainable development, supporting communities, protecting ecosystems, and ensuring economic development.

It is imperative that individuals make increasingly ethical consumer choices, while also encouraging corporations, industries and governments to establish comprehensive institutional frameworks that ensure sustainable development and water management.

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