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NASA scientists have undertaken an analysis of the state of the fresh water sources that supply the planet, and the conclusions are truly ominous. The case of the 37 largest underground aquifers in the world was taken, spread over all the continents, which were observed with space agency satellites; The data showed that 21 of these aquifers have exceeded their sustainability inflection points, that is, they tend to depletion since more water is extracted from them than is replaced. And this is not new, but it comes from the year 2003; the cause? the pace of incessant growth in population, agriculture and industries such as mining.
For NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti, the groundwater situation is critical, and is exacerbated by global warming. Groundwater aquifers supply more than a third of the water used by humans worldwide; the most problematic are in poor and densely populated regions, such as northwestern India, Pakistan, and North Africa.
The fastest depleting aquifer is the Arab Aquifer, a source of water used by more than 60 million people; it is followed by the Indus basin in India and Pakistan, and the Murzuk-Djado basin in Libya and Niger.
What if the water runs out
Our global water supply is becoming a problem with each passing day. Even in developed countries, where an abundant supply of water is sometimes taken for granted, the value of water is increasing among the people and their governments. It has been discovered that you cannot make water, so what happens if we run out of water? It is ironic that on a planet that is 70% water, people do not have enough clean and safe water to drink. However, fresh water on Earth represents only 3% of the water supply. And less than 1% is freely accessible, and the rest is invested in ice, such as icebergs, glaciers and snowdrifts. This means that all rivers, streams, lakes, aquifers and groundwater are expected to serve to sustain the 6,602,224,175 people on Earth, constituting less than 1% of the total water on the planet.
This fact is very important, since the planet is in the middle of what the United Nations calls a “water crisis”. For some people, the problem is not a lack of water, but a lack of clean water: Millions of people die each year from preventable diseases after drinking water from an unhealthy source, according to United Nations sources. In other regions, water is simply scarce.
Water scarcity can affect everyone, no matter where you live in the world. Water is arguably humanity's most important natural resource. It maintains all other activities, it is the essential basis of economies, societies and human life.
Current crisis outcomes are a combination of factors, but one rises above the others: the world's population boom. As the population grows, so do the demands for water. People must be fed, and agriculture must have water for crops and livestock. This puts in demand the natural water available.
To ensure a source of water for its people, a government can build a dam, but dams have drawbacks too. Due to its large surface area, a large amount of water is lost through evaporation. And they also serve as inadvertent collection sites for natural salts found in fresh water. These salts accumulate over time, and farmland irrigated through a dam can be poisoned from the salt concentrations. This can lead to food loss - not just the crops themselves, but also the cows, pigs, and chickens that feed on the affected grains.
Instead of finding new places to grow crops, farmers with ruined fields can move to cities in search of work. Thus arises a growth of strains of urban population and public infrastructure - such as sewers. The poorest inhabitants may find themselves with no choice but to use the water supply directly, without sanitation. Pollution would also increase through the growth of industry, which can grow with a sudden influx of cheap labor. If this were to happen, it would not take long for the tap water supply to become unhealthy under these conditions. The contaminated water supply could kill aquatic life, further reducing the supply of available food. Waterborne illnesses, such as diarrhea, would spread.
Will we run out of water? Maybe not. But people can resort to violence in an attempt to avoid a nightmare scenario like this. Below, you will be able to find out about the conflicts arising from water rights.
The water wars
In 1995, the Vice President of the World Bank, Ismail Serageldin, said: "strong> the wars of the next century will be fought over water." The last war fought over water was 4,500 years ago in Mesopotamia, but other conflicts over water have erupted since then. The bloody conflict in Darfur, Sudan, which began in 2003 and killed 400,000 Africans, began, in part, because of access to a dwindling water supply, according to The Guardian.
The conflict in Darfur started locally and grew to encompass a region. In other regions, water can also strain relations between neighboring countries. Water spreads across geographic boundaries, making ownership difficult to determine. Because nations can share a common water supply, animosity can grow about access to it, especially when it is perceived by one group that another is demanding more of that network.
This phenomenon is not limited to regions where many countries are close to each other, but to regions of the United States as well. In October 2007, a 20-year dispute over water rights - what some call a water war - between the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia broke out. When the availability of water that supplies 4.5 million residents of Atlanta, as well as parts of Alabama and Florida, began to decline due to a severe drought, tensions erupted over rights to the water supply. While the states' National Guards did not clash with each other, the governors engaged in a publicity war exchanged words rather than bullets.
Water is unevenly dispersed globally. While developing countries struggle to provide their populations with water, they generally end up paying more for it, as they must take more steps to get it. Developed countries can afford an infrastructure that can supply water cheaply and efficiently to residents. This makes the water seem cheaper and less valuable to the people who live there. Although about 12 gallons (45 liters) per day is expected to sustain a human being (this figure takes into account all water uses, such as drinking, sanitation, and food production), the average American uses about 600 liters of water (158 gallons), according to the source US News and World Report.
This fact may illuminate a global divide on water. This division could also fuel conflict and animosity between the must-haves of water and those without water in the future. While access to clean water is increasingly being viewed as a human right, water itself is becoming a luxury item. For example, a diet rich in meat is associated with wealth, since meat is more expensive than grain. And in fact, about 1,000 tons of water is invested to produce a ton of grain, so it takes 15 times more than the amount of water to produce a ton of beef. Nations with water grow in value, how have nations with little or no access to water developed?
It is clear that as water becomes more and more valuable, the risk of future conflicts increases over the water supply. But what will happen if we run out of water? Can we overcome our own future? Is it inevitable that consequences such as plague, famine and war, due to lack of water, appear in the history of the 21st century?
Water supply solutions
In the United States, one of the richest nations in the world, a small town has already learned what it means to run out of water. The water supply for Orme, Tennessee, dried up in 2007. It was very difficult for the city's 145 residents, but it was overcome with the help of their neighbors. The nearby city of New Hope, Alabama, allowed Orme to bring trucks to bring water from its source to fill the city's water tank. What's more, a new hope allowed the people of Orme to install a two-kilometer-long pipeline to feed off their water supply.
About 150 kilometers to the south, Atlanta's water war is tackled not through sanctions or conflict, but through diplomacy. In November 2007, the governors of Georgia, Florida and Alabama - three states whose regions depend on a common water supply - met in Washington, DC, to discuss a water use agreement among the three states. In the western US, a similar process took place among the seven states that share a common water supply. Water use agreements are also becoming common in other parts of the world: During the 20th century, 145 water-related treaties were created in places like the Middle East and Asia, where water is scarce.
Technology can also play a key role in ensuring an adequate water supply. Agricultural uses account for 70% of all water consumption by humans. But 42% of all people who use water in agriculture are lost due to inefficient irrigation techniques. Drip irrigation systems are becoming more and more popular, operating at 95% efficiency. Traditionally, drip systems are more expensive than other irrigation methods, but some companies are finding ways to reduce the cost of these systems, making them more affordable for poor countries that lack water resources.
Desalination plants - which remove salt from seawater to produce fresh water - are already in operation around the world. They are expensive to operate, but the costs associated with this technology are expected to decrease in the future.
Another water conservation solution may be to grow crops that require less water to grow and produce. Bioengineers are trying to create genetically modified plants that can grow well without artificial irrigation. Although the idea of eating genetically modified food makes some people apprehensive, the food of the future could be created in a laboratory.
Not all water supply solutions are based on technology. Some suggest that simply increasing the perception of the value of water may be a response to the water crisis. Making water extraction a strictly public utility, that is, which means not being available for sale by for-profit companies, as well as increasing the price of water could reduce bad spending. If water cost more, it would be more valuable to consumers. Logically, this would encourage the public to conserve more. In other words, if the water were more expensive, a person might be less likely to keep the water running while brushing their teeth.
Fundamentally, there are two views of the current water crisis: optimism and pessimism. Regarding the diminishing water supply, conflicts can arise. Illness and death can occur. But while some may struggle, the struggle to maintain or create a viable water supply has encouraged cooperation and innovation among governments. Springs are also expected from the water crisis.EcoPortal.net