It probably won’t be the first time you’ll hear that we have a limited supply of water in the world. Sure, more than two thirds of the world’s surface is water, but the majority of that is too salty to be used. Water that can be used for our daily lives and most importantly, for agriculture, is not in an infinite supply. What we are talking about here is the drinking water scarcity in the world. Moreover, in the next 20 years our demand for drinking water is projected to rise by some 40 percent. This poses serious threats of drinking water scarcity in our future.
Water shortages will only increase
About 10 years ago, UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) concluded that water scarcity in the world is one of the two biggest concerns for the century to come. The only other big problem identified by UNEP is global warming. This conclusion was based on the research of 200 scientists from over 50 countries. Over two thirds of our water use currently goes to agriculture. According to the World Water Council, we will require 17 percent more water for this purpose by 2020, which is where most of the water scarcity in the world will come from.
The water crisis is happening for several reasons. The first one is simply the continuously increasing population, which requires more and more safe drinking water. The second one is that as countries are developing, the population begins to desire and strive for better standards of living. The third reason is how inefficiently we use our water, especially for agriculture. The current process of irrigation leads to massive wastages, where the water evaporates or trickles away before it can actually be used.
In search of solutions
Governments of various countries are determined to solve the drinking water scarcity crisis by trying to use the underground water supplies instead of relying on surface water and rainfall. But this is proving useless, as it is similar to taking money out of a bank account, but never actually depositing any back. Eventually in it will run out anyway. Among the other possible solutions are precision sprinklers, which will avoid water wastage. Irrigation systems that apply water straight to plants are another solution that may be implemented in agriculture. Desalination of seawater is another possible option, but this is very expensive and time-consuming.
We have yet see what will really happen with our water supply. Because of climate change, there will probably be more rain in some areas, so they will be able to rely on that. However, other areas are just as likely to suffer from reduced rainfall because of climate change, and its bad news all round for them. With population pressures further eroding our water base, the answer will come through technological innovations and a general shift from an abundance mentality to a scarcity mentality.
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