#climate change #terminology #Water #Water Scarcity
Water is a precious resource that sustains all life on Earth, yet its availability is limited. While nearly 70% of Earth is covered by water, only 2.5% of our water is freshwater, and merely 1% of our freshwater is easily accessible for human use (National Geographic). This usable water plays a vital role in various aspects of human life, including food production, manufacturing, and sanitation. However, the growing global population has put immense pressure on freshwater resources. As populations continue to grow, so does the competition for clean water, leading to a mounting freshwater crisis with profound implications for humanity and the environment.
Human activities have exacerbated the freshwater crisis. Pollution from raw sewage, industrial discharges, and agricultural run-off contaminate water sources, making them unfit for consumption. Industrial livestock farming, which is the largest cause of river pollution in the UK (The Guardian), stands out as a major factor. Additionally, human interventions like concentrating water use in cities, altering rivers and other waterways with dams, and use of impermeable surfaces have disrupted the natural hydrological cycle. These changes and others have destabilized the natural system, which has caused extreme weather events and will lead to long-term climate shifts if not mitigated (Mongabay).
It’s not just weather, though. Water scarcity has far-reaching consequences for our global community. By 2025, an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population will live in water-stressed regions (National Geographic). This scarcity threatens public health, food security, and political and ecosystem stability, especially for the most vulnerable.
Various government and non-profit initiatives are dedicated to addressing water scarcity, such as the UN Water Conference and a variety of water-focused non-profits. However, addressing this crisis demands a comprehensive approach from all sectors, including reducing water consumption, reforestation efforts, shifts to more sustainable agricultural models, combating soil erosion and pollution, and addressing climate change.
If you’re passionate about addressing water scarcity, a good place to start is tracking your own water usage. After you have a baseline understanding of your usage, you can explore ways to collect and reuse water, to reduce your water footprint. In addition, you can support one of the Water-Focused Organizations listed here.