Parts of the world are currently experiencing record droughts. New water wells are having to be drilled deeper just to reach groundwater for homes. Many scientists believe that, without water shortage solutions, we could be facing the catastrophic consequences of a world too short on fresh water to provide for the needs of life. Are we running out of water?
Living in these modern times, you've probably heard the idea that man-made climate change is taking place in every corner of the Earth. Whether or not you believe that man is directly responsible for changes in our planet's weather system isn't really what is important. What is important is to understand that the climate on Earth does change over time affecting things like temperature, weather, and even the availability of fresh water for drinking, bathing, crop irrigation, etc. as the result of changes in rainfall levels.
However, climate change is not the only issue affecting the availability of fresh water. Essentially, Earth has the same amount of water as it ever did. The water cycle also continues to take place as it always has. So, why worry about water shortage solutions at all then?
Well, the amount of fresh water that is available for use is a different story, particularly in a given location. As the population continues to grow, more and more fresh water must be consumed, not just for drinking, but for crop growth, food production, and on and on. More importantly, the water cycle of the Earth doesn't redistribute the water everywhere equally. So, even though the water cycle continues to recycle whatever water we as humans use, keeping the total water on Earth basically the same, not every location around the world receives back what water had been used fast enough to keep up with the consumption by the population of that location.
Often, the solution to a water shortage in one place means tapping into the reserves of another to fill that void. More wells are drilled leading to a more rapid loss of fresh water reserves in underground aquifers which take time to replenish under the Earth's natural rain cycle. Rivers are also tapped and water is carried via pipelines to populated areas in order to provide much-needed fresh water leading to lower river water levels and even the complete drying of river beds in some cases. Ecosystems and fishing industries that rely on these rivers may be altered or eradicated entirely.
While the total amount of water on planet Earth remains as it was millions of years ago, the availability of fresh water in our future may very well be cause for serious concern for generations to come. Whether on a societal scale or individually, we'll all need to do our part to discover and implement water shortage solutions in order to ensure that we do not run out our most basic need for life; water.