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Ever Wonder about Water Scarcity?
We all know the importance of water, but not many of us know how scarce it has become. While water may cover 70 percent of our planet, freshwater (what humans need in order to survive) is extremely rare.
How rare? According to the World Wildlife Fund, “only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.”
Freshwater is used for consumption, bathing and crop irrigation, and scarcity of freshwater results in 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to water. Additionally, 2.4 billion people have inadequate water sanitation measures. Inadequate water sanitation leads to cholera, typhoid fever and water-borne illnesses.
This water scarcity phenomenon already affects every continent. 1.2 billion people, — or one-fifth of the world’s population — live in areas of physical scarcity, and an additional 500 million people are approaching this scarcity risk. Another 1.6 billion people, — one quarter of the world’s population — face economic water shortage due to lack of water supplies and infrastructure. Overall, 40 per cent of the entire population of the planet has little or no access to clean water.
Water scarcity is both a natural and human-made phenomenon. While there is enough freshwater on the planet for 7 billion people, freshwater is unevenly distributed, in addition to wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.
Water Scarcity: Just the Facts
Water scarcity affects 1 in 3 people on every continent of the globe, and can occur in areas even where there is plenty of rainfall or freshwater. Water scarcity forces people to rely on unsafe sources of drinking water, and increases the risk(s) of contracting trachoma, plagues and typhus.
Water scarcity also encourages people to store water in homes, which increases the risk of water contamination, and serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes (ie. carriers of dengue fever, malaria and other diseases).
Water Scarcity Awareness
There are some actions that can be taken to remedy the damage. Rainwater harvesting is a prime example, and is a method that enables the accumulation and deposition of rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. Another method is known as “drip irrigation,” and is an irrigation method that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants.
Being mindful of excess water consumption is another step that can be taken, in order to minimize usage. Finally, desalination of salt water is a global action to consider, and serves as the process in which salt water is desalinated to produce fresh water suitable for human consumption and irrigation.
**Water scarcity will remain an ongoing issue unless the root causes of this environmental issue is resolved. If you wish to make a long-term, ecological difference, consider a career in environmental science. You can learn more about the types of environmental degrees available online at http://www.distancelearning.org!**