Water is our past. Water is our future. Without it, we cannot survive, and there are no alternatives. Many people have likened the issue of water scarcity to our current economic struggle over petroleum. Without petroleum, we can’t drive our cars, and maybe we have to walk to school or work. This is not the case for water, as we are not dealing with simple inconveniences, we are dealing with the issue of sustaining life itself.
The global lack of abundance of usable water is an issue that presents a dangerous problem to our future. Ironically, only a small portion of our planet’s water is actually usable. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s water is too salty for consumption or agricultural use. The issue of distribution has been probed from nearly every angle, yet an economically feasible solution has yet to be found. Current technology allows for the desalination of ocean water, however, the technique is only viable for wealthy coastline regions. The cost of converting saltwater into consumable water is often higher than alternate brute force methods: the transportation of clean water in ships. Keeping this in mind, the remaining water becomes a limited and valuable resource that must be properly managed in order to sustain the future of humanity. All of these global issues aggregate to form a large-scale problem with overwhelming future implications. The rate at which we are currently expending water combined with surging populations leaves a future full of questions and a present that demands action. If global water issues are not addressed today, future sustainability will be greatly limited.
Results and Discussions
To analyze the situation of water scarcity, enough data must be present to form a usable model. Since there is not sufficient global data to form a useful model, it was decided to base analysis on a developed nation, ideally the United States. By using data from case studies performed by Bouwer and Gleick, was created a simple model which replicates water supply and usage is the US. The stock used for the main water supply consisted of two of the largest reservoirs of usable fresh water, the Great Lakes and the Ogallala aquifer. Running the simulation into the future, the issue of water scarcity becomes salient.
By comparing the water renewal rate and usage rate, we notice that there is currently a more than ample supply of renewable water to sustain the country. Recreational uses aside, water demands are tied directly to industry, agriculture, and domestic purposes. These three factors increase with population, which is constantly increasing. For our first run, no used water is recycled. This is done to illustrate the limitations of the water supply in the world- in light of increasing populations, there is not enough water to sustain the world. This model clearly stresses the notion that water is a limited resource and measures must be implemented in order to combat the long-term issues with water scarcity.
In order to make any improvements regarding the issue of water scarcity in our world today, more than one solution is necessary. Although water scarcity is not a substantial problem to every country currently, many countries feel the effects of water scarcity and the issue must be addressed. If this issue is not dealt with soon, it will become a problem for many other countries in the near future, some which are already beginning to feel the effects. There are several actions that would be effective in preserving and conserving water.
One possible solution is the use of desalinization technology. This system is described as filtering salty water through membranes and removing the salt. This procedure has worked for about 130 nations in North Africa and the Middle East. With this system, these nations are currently producing six billion gallons of usable water a day (Arrandale, 2002). Also, the United States has a total of about 1,200 desalinating plants, most of which are in modest-sized communities.
Globally implementing recycling and filtration systems would be a relatively easy task that would reap outstanding benefits. Making these global advancements would be a monetarily and environmentally friendly step in the right direction towards the reduction of global water scarcity.
Plainly, more than one solution is necessary in order to reduce or solve the issue of water scarcity that the world faces today. Any action, whether it may be improving insulation of water heating systems within the home, or composing multinational treaties, is important and must be taken into consideration. Our world currently faces a dilemma regarding a limited water supply and if the issue continues to progress without significant alterations, the consequences will be detrimental.
Water scarcity is a problem of the future. There are many concerns in the world today, and water scarcity is currently in the backseat. Our world can only address so many problems at a time, and we tend to put them off until the need to find a solution becomes dire. All the research and projections we have found show that this will indeed. Children are already dying in large numbers in poverty-stricken regions due to preventable waterborne illness, and the destruction of natural ecosystems is greatly reducing fresh water biodiversity. These effects will continue to snowball until a viable global solution is implemented. As the situation stands now, it is impossible to end with an answer, only another question. What will your children drink?