Friday, December 18, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE: The Consequences of a Global Water Shortage

By Jennifer Carpenter

While the oil crisis is getting lots of press there is another more critical resource shortage that is falling mostly under the radar. I'm talking about the global water shortage which threatens drinking water and crop production around the world.

According to Charity water, a non-profit committed to bringing clean drinking water to people who don't have it, 1.1 billion people around the world don't have access to clean drinking water. As more and more water gets polluted that statistic will rise.

There are many things ruining the state of our drinking water including old pipes and rusting structures running under most American cities, major droughts, and the prevalence of asphalt roads covering the country. Older pipes are falling apart and contaminating the liquid that runs through them. There are many parts of the country where the water coming out of their taps is brown. Other areas are recommended to boil their water from time to time due to contamination.

Some municipalities have treated their water with so much chlorine that it is barely drinkable. Meanwhile asphalt roads prevent water from being absorbed and instead directs it to runoff to the side where is become practically useless. State and local authorities have only a few choices between filtering dirty water and desalinating salt water. Both options are extremely expensive and somewhat inefficient.

The shortage also affects irrigation to crops. Without water for growing food, farmers won't be able to produce enough to stay in business and the price of food will go through the roof. Even now, some farmers in parts of the western United States have to think up alternative ways to irrigate their land since their regular water sources are running dry.

As it becomes more difficult to get, the price of clean and drinkable water will become out of reach for many families both here in American and around the world. The market for water will become more volatile than that of oil. In fact it's likely that the water shortage will put the world's oil shortage to shame.

Only by careful conservation and drastically changing out overly wasteful ways will there be any chance of slowing down or even possibly stopping the global shortage. Government official have to start taking water conservation seriously by passing laws to prevent wasting water and fixing the decrepit structures around our cities. At home every person should be shutting off faucets when washing dishes or brushing teeth; installing water saving shower fixtures, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines; and only running appliances when full.

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