Even though the world consists of 70% water, only 3% of it is freshwater, of which only one third is available for use. The remaining two-thirds are tucked in ice caps. However, the abundance of water in the sea, river, and water bodies beguiles us into thinking that it is an infinite source- we can use it any way we want. Unfortunately, such is not the case as most of the water available in these natural reservoirs is not fit for use.
As the reckoning of a grim future looms large, we look at four effects of water scarcity that future generations have to counter-
Over 1 billion people do not have safe drinking water, whereas 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation. Lack of healthy drinking water causes millions of deaths worldwide, especially in poorer countries. The reason behind this huge amount of death is as much due to water pollution as due to water scarcity.
The natural ecosystem has elaborate mechanisms that purify the water. However, the viability of a healthy ecosystem is under threat because of a serious water shortage.
Consider the severity of the crisis in Central Asia. The Aral Sea, which was once the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world, has lost an area the size of Lake Michigan. The dwindling sea has left an enormous polluted area in its wake. The cataclysmic situation resulted in a dreadful food shortage that is still battering the region.
Developing countries: –
As the above example shows, poorer and developing countries are bearing the brunt of water scarcity. The problem is aggravated because of their limited resources and nascent technology.
The future generations of people in these countries are faced with a precarious future. There are many water scarcity essays that focus on the dire consequences of water scarcity. From food shortage to lack of safe water, what some regions are facing now, might be the future for all of us. A UN report says by 2050, 20% of developing countries will face water shortages. Ample evidence suggests that more than 60% of people will be living in water-stressed countries by 2025.
What are the ways to stop it or at least alleviate the problem? The same report also suggests afforestation, sustainable urban planning as key to recovery. However, until and unless the present generation takes notice of the problems, the future generation will suffer because of our callousness.
Food scarcity: –
The exponential growth of human civilization started with the advent of cultivation. However, in the last few decades, farming practices have witnessed a sea change. Factory farming has taken the driving seat in the agriculture sector. As the global population continues to grow, demand for food will surge about 50 percent by 2050.
However, there is a flip side to this growth story. The way we have exploited the resources in the past few decades has resulted in groundwater depletion in different regions. With dwindling water resources, it will surely be a challenge to meet the expected demand for food in the future.
Furthermore, to add to the owes, food wastage is a major problem, yet, most of us are oblivious to it. Wasting food translates to wasting the vast amount of resources that went behind its production. Needless to say, water is the primary resource for food production. The FAO report shows that depending on the diet, an average person needs 2 000 to 5000 liters of water to harvest the food consumed daily.
We must adopt sustainable cultivation practices to counter the challenge of water scarcity. Agricultural scientists are also batting for native species of crops, which requires less water and yields more produce.
To put all these into perspective, as per World Bank’s estimation, dry regions will lose 6% of their GDP due to water scarcity. We can not undo our past, but we can mend our present ways. This is why we need a gradual overhaul of our accepted practices in many areas.
Vanishing wetlands: –
Conservationists and scientists consider wetlands as unrecognized hotspots. Quite reasonably so, if you consider that an immense variety of species of birds, mammals, fish, microbes, and small plants depend on wetlands for survival. Moreover, wetlands store CO2 inside the plants and soil thereby, keeping the atmospheric level of CO2 in check.
However, there is a serious lack of understanding regarding the key role of wetlands. As a result, wetlands are considered to be wastelands to be reclaimed for development purposes. A WWF report says, in the last hundred years, the area of wetlands has halved. Consequently, the dwindling area of wetlands is aggravating the problem of water scarcity. Climate scientists further predict that the disappearance of wetlands will exacerbate the threat of global warming and climate change.
Wrapping Up –
We hope that this article has helped you get a better picture of the future staring at our faces. As parents, brothers, sisters, none of us would want a bleak future for our future generations. If we cannot safeguard that, we will be failing our children.