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Scarcity of Water in The World – The Way Forward

Scarcity of water in the world?

To quite some people this may sound trashy, while a few others may consider me a mere alarmist. If you belong to any of these two groups, you are reacting the exact way I did when I first heard this, until I decided to dig deeper. What I found out is rather scary.

A few years back, I told some biology students in Nigeria that for one to contact typhoid, the fellow must have ingested feces and expectedly they were aghast. At that time I thought the disease was peculiar to Nigeria but I later found out that the bacteria are present in many Southeast Asian countries as well as in Africa, Central and South America, and Western Pacific countries.

The disease is not regimented to developing countries alone, as approximately 85% of typhoid fever and 90% of paratyphoid fever cases have been recorded among international travelers in the United States.

The only mode of transmitting the disease is through the fecal-oral route and ingestion of feces-contaminated water and food is the primary mode of transmission.

Don’t you believe that the only reason that will make anybody to consume contaminated water is the lack or scarcity?

Though a few areas with moderate water shortage were recorded around the year 1800, water shortage began in earnest at around 1900, with 2% of the world under scarcity, that rose to 9% by 1960 and 35% in the year2005.

Am I still talking crap?

It may amaze you to know that a whopping two-thirds of the global population, translating to over 4 billion people, live with severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. Apart from India and China who actually have fragile water resources, the Central and Western USA, Australia and even the city of London have also been highlighted.

All the water I see, where did it go? I’m sure that is your question. Don’t fret, the cat will be let out of the bag. But before then, you need to file this information somewhere in your brain.

We require between 500 and 4,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of wheat and it takes 15,415 liters of water to put that 1 kg of beef necessary for your burger, on the table.

In telling the truth, the earth surface contains vast quantities of water. It is on record that about 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. That definitely is a very large amount of water by any standard. What then is the problem?

The problem is that about 96.5% of this water is salty. That is the water found in the oceans. Freshwater which we and a lot of animals including crops can make use of is just a mere 2.5 – 3% of the total water on earth. But the ridiculous aspect of the whole stuff is that two-thirds of this freshwater is not available for us, it is trapped in glaciers and snowfields, only one-third, found in rivers, swamps and lakes are available for consumption.

This, as you will reason, may sound unbelievable, but it is the absolute truth. The situation is bad enough as it seems but we are making it worse by our actions.

Just take a pause to consider our activities; the industrial wastes, the wastes we generate from our different households, those that come from our farms, where do they end up?

The developing countries dump about 70 percent of untreated industrial wastes into freshwater supply

The Mississippi River, which drains over 40 percent of the continental U.S., carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico every year. The pollution from here causes a coastal dead zone that has the same size as Massachusetts on a yearly basis.

Do you realize that a child dies in this world within every 20 seconds as a result of water-related disease and that children who live in this polluted environment often carry about 1,000 parasitic worms in their body at any given time?

A former president of the United States visited Nigeria in 1979 and had to come all the way with water to bathe, drink, wash hands and clothes, and even for cooking. This goes to tell just how bad the situation can get.

The U.N has estimated that based on the way things are going, forty-eight nations having a combined population of 2.8 billion will face water scarcity by 2025.

Shall we fold our hands and watch as things unfold? that will be absolute rubbish. We can always start from the small places.

  • Regulate the amount of water we use
  • Turn off taps when not in use
  • Control waste discharges from our households
  • Adhere to measures put in place by Environmental Protection Agencies

These are small measures but the ultimate solution is to desalinate water from our oceans. That is the only way to make mankind heave a sigh of relief.

Fortunately for us, our scientists and technologists are not relenting. The hitherto very expensive and almost impossible desalination of the salty water from our oceans has begun in earnest.

Sorek and other plants in Israel are blazing the trail. Desalination of seawater is now a mainstay of the Israeli water supply.

Justin Sonett and his SAROS co-creators have also given us fresh water from the oceans with minimal environmental impact.

The joy about mankind is usually the effort incorporated into solving problems, even hydra-headed ones.

The problem of scarcity of water is on its way to being solved.

Photo Credit: UweBKK (α 77 on ) Flickr via Compfight cc

 

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About John Ejiofor

John Ejiofor is a curious life-researcher, whose quest to finding answers to life's pertinent questions has led to founding Nature Torch. This blog aims to debate and explore many questions about our earth -- including those a lot of people are uncomfortable with asking. He has been published on some of the internet's most respected websites, which you can find online.
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2 thoughts on “Scarcity of Water in The World – The Way Forward

  1. The fact that the U.S. has revived the coal sector shows that fact that global warming will continue, and the global temperature will go up, which means that water will slowly vanish.
    Droughts, extreme heat during the summer, warmer or extremely cold winters shows that mankind needs at least three more decades to understand that nature will get rid of us very soon.

    1. It’s such a pity that when all hands should be on deck to fight the scourge, we are compounding the problems. Thanks, Danny for this very insightful observation.

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