Let’s make a difference….The Global Water Crisis
Of all the water in the world, only 3% is fresh. Less than a third of 1% of this is available to humans. The rest is frozen in glaciers or polar ice caps, or is deep within the earth, beyond our reach. To put it another way, if 100 litres represents the world’s water, little more than half a tablespoon of it is fresh water available for our use.
Global water consumption has risen almost tenfold since 1900, and many parts of the world are now reaching the limits of their supply. World population is expected to increase by 45% in the next thirty years, while freshwater runoff is expected to increase by 10%. UNESCO has predicted that by 2020 water shortage will be a serious worldwide problem.
One third of the world’s population is already facing problems due to both water shortage and poor drinking water quality. Effects include massive outbreaks of disease, malnourishment and crop failure. Furthermore, excessive use of water has seen the degradation of the environment costing the world billions of dollars.
Some sobering examples of water consumption around the world include:
• So much water is drawn from the Colorado River (which formed the Grand Canyon) that often it never flows to the sea.
• Several U.S. states are already experiencing water shortages and are now tapping into Canada’s water supply.
There is often a high amount of ‘embodied water’ associated with many items we use or consume. For example:
• It takes 41 500 litres to produce a kilo of meat
• It takes 500 litres to produce one orange
• It takes 1 340 000 litres to produce 1 tonne of aluminium
• It takes 50 litres to produce a copy of Saturday’s newspaper
• It takes about 5000 litres of water to create one kilogram of rice.
• It takes 4 litres to produce a bottle of beer
It’s time to be water efficient!
It is obvious that we cannot increase demands for water much more without detrimental effects to the environment, society and the economy. It’s time to become water efficient! This involves reassessing our relationship with water, and learning to use it more sparingly. On the most basic level, it requires a behavioural change, and assigning a value to water that truly reflects its worth.
We can also unlock economic benefits of being water efficient.
Everybody has a responsibility to save water, if we are going to allow future generations to enjoy a similar standard of living that we enjoy now. In fact, many of the impacts associated with water use are likely to have an effect on our own lives!