WATER SCARCITY: MAIN CAUSES OF WATER SHORTAGE
Great bodies of water surround our countries and continents. With nearly 71% of the Earth’s covered in water, it is easy to think that we will never run out of water. Unfortunately, that is where many of us are wrong.
In reality, many countries around the world today are already feeling the effects of increasing water demand, dwindling water supply, and growing risk of water scarcity.
The Disappearing Act of Drinking Water
Water is a finite resource. Only 3% of the water on Earth is freshwater. Of that percentage, 2.5% is found in the polar ice caps, glaciers, and atmosphere — or it’s highly polluted. That means only 0.5% of that is accessible for us to tap into as a potable or drinkable water resource.
The world is currently facing a water crisis. Around 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water each day. Moreover, 2.7 billion people across the globe experience water scarcity for at least one month each year.
Water scarcity or stress happens when countries or communities have insufficient water supply to fulfill their demand for safe and usable water. Levels of water stress vary from one place to another.
Scientists also paint a worrying picture. One study warned that unless improvements in water consumption are implemented, there will not be enough available water to meet global demands by 2040.
Problems With Water Consumption
The world consumes nearly four trillion cubic meters of freshwater annually. Water usage greatly varies per country. The United Arab Emirates and the United States rank at the top in daily water usage per gallon per person. However, much of the water used does not go towards supplying the populations with drinking water.
Freshwater is used for more than drinking and improving our health. It is also used to produce different consumer goods, such as cars, shirts, plastic bottles, and food. An older study noted that the major water withdrawals were used for thermal power generation and the manufacturing industry.
The growth of the technology and electronics sectors necessitates more water for the continued production of various goods we now use in our everyday lives. This places further strain on our already declining water supply.
The Need For Sustainability and Water Conservation
As climate change disrupts weather patterns, it exacerbates water scarcity. For instance, extreme weather events contaminate the diminishing supply of drinking water.
Taiwan has keenly felt the combined effects of climate change and water stress since 2020.
Although one of the rainiest places in the world, Taiwan did not experience any typhoons last year.
This plunged the country into its worst drought in over 55 years.
Residents in three cities and counties have to live without any water for two days a week. Many farmers are forced to endure dry acres of farmland. However, all these measures are done to reroute the water supply towards the semiconductor industry.
With too little water to meet demand, Taiwan has chosen to prioritize its $100 billion semiconductor industry, which manufactures almost 90% of advanced microchips worldwide.
Unless governments work towards improving water supply sustainability and implementing water conservation strategies, situations similar to Taiwan may become more common around the globe.
The water crisis is not going to improve. Unless we recognize the importance and wide-reaching effects of climate change on our water supply, the world will be living a dystopian reality stemming from water scarcity.
It is important to recognize not only the effects of climate change but also that we all have a role to play in ensuring water sustainability.