User:MattieMylonas/Water scarcity

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Water scarcity affects every single continent on Earth with 1/5 of the population living in dangerously insufficient areas. [1] Over a billion of the world’s population live in areas that suffer water scarcity due to economic struggles. Some countries are unable to afford to produce the infrastructure necessary to extract water from other areas. Due to the increasing population, water is being consumed at more rapid rates. This is an issue because although there is massive amounts of water on the Earth, certain regions do not have access. Often, sources of water are polluted or not managed properly. It is estimated that if environmental changes are not made, by 2025 2/3 of the Earth’s population could be without fresh water. [2] This danger could lead to people contracting diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever, due to their relation with contaminated water.

Causes

Human activity is the main cause of water scarcity, especially due to rapid increase in the world’s population over the past century. In order to provide for a growing population, dams and irrigation systems were built to supply fresh water to remote areas. These systems are gradually emptying the sources of water they are built upon including rivers and lakes. [3] Another consequence of a growing human population and increased use of natural resources is [climate change], which also contributes to water scarcity. Climate change is a result of an increase of [greenhouse gases] in the atmosphere. These changes in the atmosphere and concentration of greenhouse gases impact every other geological process including the water cycle. Extreme weather shifts have caused severe droughts and flooding in various parts of the world, while arctic glaciers are simultaneously melting. Sources of fresh water, essential to sustaining humanity and the majority of agriculture are becoming limited. Pollution is a major issue contributing to water scarcity. The main causes of water pollution include pesticides and fertilizers that leak into the water supply from surrounding farms, and human and industrial waste. [4] Agricultural practices have also been observed to used irrigation systems that do not effectively spread water, and often leak wasting much of the resource.

Impacts

Ecosystems that thrive on water are slowly being drained, most notably this is occurring in what are called wetlands. Since the early 90’s about half of the Earth’s wetlands have dried up, putting in danger of extinction the countless organisms that thrive in this type of ecosystem. Humans are dependent on wetlands because they are used for the cultivation of rice, which is the main food source for a vast majority of the population.

Along with environmental threats, water scarcity is also having negative impacts on economies. Water is essential for all types of organizations to function properly, whether it be a family business or a major corporation. Gaining access to a steady supply of fresh water could prove to be very expensive, due the restricted amount still available on Earth. Water scarcity would therefore inflate cost for consumers, as well as threaten an organizations ability to be productive and even hire or keep employees. For many under-developed countries, a lack of fresh water or a poor water management infrastructure makes it difficult for businesses and ultimately the economy at large to improve. [5] Lack of clean water for under-developed countries will increased the already severe spread of disease and will also restrict the development of women and children in society. As the Earth’s population continues to grow, the demand for water will become more strained. This will cause prices of water to rise substantially and put stress on communities who lack access and resources to obtain a steady water supply. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has already given reports that over thirty cities within the country are facing the serious water shortages. [6]


External Links

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency - [1]
  • Department of Health and Human Services – [www.os.dhhs.gov]
  • Natural Resource Defense Council – [2]
  • World Wildlife Fund – [3]
  • United States Climate Action Network – [4]


References