Dying Of Thirst: Earth's Water Is Running Out
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Published: April 17, 2015
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Every day the sea level gets a little higher, and every day we have a little bit less water to drink.


According to the World Wildlife Fund, 2.7 billion people are faced with water scarcities during at least one month of the year. As drought conditions prevail in many places around the globe and our limited supply of accessible fresh water continues to dwindle, the problem is getting worse, not better.


A global water crisis — a scenario in which there simply isn’t enough potable water to sustain the world’s needs — is the most significant global risk we face on Earth in terms of its potential impact on the population. Of all potential global crises, a water crisis is the eight most likely to occur in a ten year period, according to an assessment by the World Economic Forum in January.


All this is to say that the world’s water problems need to be solved sooner rather than later. It’s a tragedy in its own right that 2.4 billion people worldwide don’t have steady access to water that is sufficiently sanitary — meaning they are exposed to a host of water-borne illnesses, which often prove deadly. But soon this will be everyone else’s problem too.



In terms of the shortage, desalinating seawater seems, at first, like an attractive option.


We know that converting seawater into fresh water is a viable way to create potable H2O, but that process is hugely expensive in many ways. The amount of electricity needed as well as the potential impact of a desalination plant on the ocean environment it pumps water from both present major flaws in this solution. Given the costliness of the process, places that have used desalination as a stop-gap to produce water during intense droughts, such as in California and Australia, often end up shuttering the plants when normal rain conditions resume.
















For what it’s worth, we know that the effects of global warming and global water shortages are related.


The rising sea levels mean that coastal locations without much land between fresh and saltwater bodies risk cross-contamination, rendering the freshwater saline and thus undrinkable. In addition, many scientists speculate that global warming is causing and will continue to cause extreme weather conditions — that includes harsh droughts.


Prospects seem bleak, and no self-evident solution has presented itself.


But consider this: In the US, California is suffering one of its worst droughts on record right now. As the state continues hemorrhaging fresh water, its supply isn’t being replenished at a sustainable rate. To try and curb the effects of the drought, the governor of California has put significant water restrictions in place. During the coverage of these restrictions, a troubling statistic emerged. In California, “outdoor residential use” accounts for one-third of all Urban water consumption. In other words, lawn and garden sprinklers are using a third of the water in California’s cities. That’s a number that should cause your face to flush red, considering how obscenely simple it would be to simply stop allowing people to water their lawns.



This is especially true in Southern California, where rainfall is so scarce that residential lawns must be planted using turf, because the various species of grass found on lawns do not grow naturally there. Incentive programs exist for homeowners to replace their lawns with water-storing plants that are native to the region.


This problem is more pressing than having a nice-looking lawn whether we choose to acknowledge that fact or not. Right now, most of us think about water scarcity as happening somewhere else, being someone else’s problem. But when you juxtapose a lawn sprinkler in California with the millions of people who lack access to clean water all over the world, this problem becomes illuminated in a global context.


A ban on lawn sprinklers isn’t going to solve the world’s water problems — not even close. The fact that turning sprinklers off could alleviate an entire third of urban water consumption in California makes you wonder what other simple conservation steps we could take with a little bit of creative thinking. Beyond that, there are ways we can help people without access to clean water right now. The impetus take this simple step exists already, and every day it becomes a little more urgent. How much more water could be saved?


















Your Thoughts


  1. Do you incorporate any water-saving techniques in your day-to-day life? If so, we’d love to hear what they are!
  2. In your opinion, which is a more effective strategy for dealing with resource shortages on Earth: creating solutions through conservation and renewal, or exploring other potential homes for our species throughout the universe?
  3. One solution to water woes used in different regions worldwide are so-called “rain taxes” that charges building owners for excess rainwater. What’s the water situation like where you’re at? Are there any special restrictions or preventative steps being taken to regulate usage?












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anonymous's avatar
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rds98's avatar
I live in the New York area. We haven't had rain in weeks, and its taking a toll on the garden. I wonder how long before we start using desalination to get most of our water. I'll tell right now California isn't the only place facing crisis.
armageddongal's avatar
armageddongalHobbyist Traditional Artist
I am happy that someone is posting a concern here about water. Water is vital. And it hard to get some people to change. I for one have reduced my water waste. I take less time I the shower. And when I shampoo I turn of the water. Also we don't need to wash our hair daily. So same water there. Also I think population , poverty and ignorant people are making things worst. Education is vital. And population control. My idea is that our society. And I'm taking about America are supporting (sorry to say this ) useless people who do not care about their planet. Honestly earth is and will always be our home. We need to educate others. Save our home. Be less selfish.
JACAC's avatar
a . B I G . p r o b l e m . f o r . s u r e ...
RSF24's avatar
RSF24Professional Traditional Artist
FYI, Texas drought is pretty much over. Most reservoirs are at 95% capacity.
www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd/?n=drough…
Leonartisan's avatar
LeonartisanStudent General Artist
Its called reverse osmosis. Its a suppressed technology that turn salt water into pure water fit for drinking. Also Bill Gates has successfully invested money in technology that would turn sewage into pure clean drinking water. The water shouldn't be running out. Even with landlocked countries, simple viaducts can be built. This is not about global warming (its cooling now) or pollution, its about rapidly growing 3rd world populations that are being ignored by the societal world elite.
FellFallow's avatar
FellFallowProfessional Digital Artist
As harsh as it sounds there are only so many people the earth can support - as well as animals. Those that die out due to disease or famine are being subject to the natural order of things. Of course we have limited medicine and food available, but the fact is the earth is already overpopulated - without a 'natural control' our numbers will continue to exceed that. If that happens, everyone will suffer. You cannot change nature to your specific liking and still have a balanced ecosystem - and yes, humans are part of that ecosystem and must abide by it's rules like any other animal. 

Having said that I don't know why desalination plants are more popular. The notion that water is 'running out' is completely ignorant and plain ridiculous - water doesn't disappear from the atmosphere, it simply cycles. Water -> into animal -> into ground -> clouds -> rain -> water. I'd be interested to know where you think it's going off to. 
Krateros101's avatar
Listen, even if you pulled out all the stops and actually found the capital to implement your favorite tech solution to the water problem, you would still be faced with the plethora of other scarcities and pending scarcities out there. 

Overpopulation and consumption are the root problems here, and these are the product of the techno-industrial fossil fuel blip in history that the last 150+ years have been.  We are in the twilight part of that chapter of history.

We are projected to add trillions more people to the earth.  And we "hope" to have a larger total percentage in the middle class.  Which means the rate of growth in consumption would increase even faster.

The only real solution is collapse.  Sorry to say that.  We're already in the early stages of it.  The future is going to be very interesting, and VERY different than most people expect.
Dreamingartist101's avatar
Dreamingartist101Student Traditional Artist
Well, of course rainfall is rare in So. Cal! It's a desert for crying out loud! 
SnowblindOtter's avatar
WWF is for wildlife, so, I'm not trusting their estimates on people.

Water problems? No, it's a government problem. Stop funding bank accounts, start funding desalinization research, and suddenly no more water problem!
Krateros101's avatar
Listen, even if you pulled out all the stops and actually found the capital to implement your favorite tech solution to the water problem, you would still be faced with the plethora of other scarcities and pending scarcities out there. 

Overpopulation and consumption are the root problems here, and these are the product of the techno-industrial fossil fuel blip in history that the last 150+ years have been.  We are in the twilight part of that chapter of history.

We are projected to add trillions more people to the earth.  And we "hope" to have a larger total percentage in the middle class.  Which means the rate of growth in consumption would increase even faster.

The only real solution is collapse.  Sorry to say that.  We're already in the early stages of it.  The future is going to be very interesting, and VERY different than most people expect.
SnowblindOtter's avatar
You're right about the collapse, bit.
Krateros101's avatar
Everything else, the various "solutions" everyone talks about, seem more like patches than anything.  Buying a bit more time maybe.  But the longer the current state of things goes, the bigger everything gets, making the collapse even more calamitous than if it happened now, or twenty years ago.
SnowblindOtter's avatar
I completely agree. I mean, Hitler had something going... he just wasn't general enough.
Krateros101's avatar
I definitely think we are in store for a pretty dramatic population collapse as well this century.  Maybe before mid-century.  Maybe some genocides, war in general, increased famine, disease--all will contribute, I bet. 

And the USA will certainly not be immune.  Actually the USA is the epicenter of the problem, especially economically.  This country has a shit storm coming, and no one seems to recognize it, or care, or be prepared.
SnowblindOtter's avatar
Eh, I'm not worried about it. I'm too close to the poverty line to care, honestly
PoochyPaws's avatar
PoochyPawsHobbyist Digital Artist
1. Yes, personally I turn off the water while brushing my teeth. I also
make sure the "leaky" faucet handles are always turned off properly.
I even use old water (unfinished) bottles and pour the remaining water in a few garden plants.
 
2. Create solutions. I kinda see it as "running away" from the issue if you
just try to leave Earth. Why? Because we can still explore Space for the human race AND have the world we originated from also.

3. Yeah, they're some water restrictions locally for me. Why should we be
charged extra money for taking care of our Lawns and Gardens?
After all
California is a big Agriculture state.

This topic is about my home State. I am a bit confused, I thought
some other States were having Floods??? Then why are we (here in CA)
suffering from awful droughts?
Don't forget, us Humans are made up of a % of Water.

:peace:
SnowblindOtter's avatar
We're also a coastal state, who's governor refuses to fund desalinization research, in lieu of lining his pocket and fighting tobacco and firearms.
PoochyPaws's avatar
PoochyPawsHobbyist Digital Artist
Tobacco is the worse #1 killer, so I can't ever disagree with that.
SnowblindOtter's avatar
Pretty sure I've never seen a cigarette jump up on its own volition and shoot somebody. And, frankly, if Tobacco is a killer, then, more power to it. It's called natural selection.
Sorross's avatar
Alcohol is the #1 killer
Frekkle's avatar
FrekkleHobbyist General Artist
If people ate less animal products, then all this water wouldn't be wasted on farm animals. 
armageddongal's avatar
armageddongalHobbyist Traditional Artist
But don't we need the nutrients from animals? I understand eating less cows. Since cow require a lot of energy pull.
What type of meat is best to try to help reduce water waste?
SnowblindOtter's avatar
Well, yeah. The less people you have eating meat, the less water is needed for livestock. On the same token, though, if more people become vegetarian, or vegan, then more water is going toward agriculture, so, it's still diverting a ludicrous amount of water toward farming food for a bunch of idiots.

If you really want to conserve water in terms of food, go Breatharian. It's a great way to conserve water, and help solve the hunger crisis while you're at it.
anonymous's avatar
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