Water scarcity

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Water scarcity is the inadequate supply of fresh water, a resource that is crucial to humans and other living things. Water scarcity affects every single continent on Earth with 1/5 of the global population living in dangerously insufficient areas. [1] Over one billion of the world’s population lives in areas that suffer water scarcity due to economic struggles. Some countries are unable to afford to establish the infrastructure necessary to extract water from other regions. Because of the increasing population, water is being consumed at more rapid rates. This is an issue because although there is a massive volume of water on the Earth, certain regions do not have access. In addition, sources of water may be polluted or not managed properly. It is estimated that if environmental actions to stop climate change, and preserve fresh water sources are not made by 2025, two-thirds of the Earth’s population could be without access to fresh water.[2] This situation could lead to people contracting diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever, due to their interactions with contaminated water.

Causes

Human activity is a major cause of water scarcity due to the use of fossil fuels that alter climate and weather activity, as well as the rapid increase in global population consuming more water.[1] In order to provide for a growing population, dams and irrigation systems are built to supply fresh water to remote areas. These irrigation systems are gradually emptying the sources of water they are built upon including rivers and lakes.[2] In addition to the growing human population and increased use of natural resources, an additional contributing factor to water scarcity is climate change. Climate change is the result of the changes in the average weather in a particular region over long periods of time, typically triggered by an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These changes in the atmosphere and concentration of greenhouse gases impact all 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 water systems from surrounding farms, and human and industrial waste.[1] Agricultural practices, such as irrigation systems, have been observed to not effectively spread water, and often leak wasting much of the resource.[1]

Impacts

Ecosystems that thrive on water are slowly being drained, and most notably this is occurring in wetlands. Since the early 1990’s, approximately half of the Earth’s wetlands have dried up, threatening 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.[1]

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. Water scarcity would therefore inflate cost for consumers, as well as threaten an organization's ability to be productive and hire and/or retain employees. For many developing 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. [3] Lack of clean water for developing countries will increase the already significant spread of disease and will also restrict the development of women and children in society in terms of education and resources. 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 United States are facing the serious water shortages. [4]

References

See also

External Links

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