The report took into account data from 37 of the largest sources of fresh water on the planet over a ten-year period (from 2003 to 2013), obtained using the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite system. The conclusions that scientists made from this study are by no means comforting: it turned out that 21 of the 37 main water sources are overexploited, and 8 of them are on the verge of complete depletion.
It is quite obvious that the use of fresh water on the planet is unreasonable, barbaric. This potentially threatens to deplete not only the 8 most problematic sources that are already in critical condition, but also those 21 where the balance of recovery use is already upset.
One of the biggest questions NASA’s study doesn’t answer is exactly how much fresh water is left in these 37 most important springs known to man? The GRACE system can only help predict the possibility of restoration or depletion of some water resource, but it cannot calculate the reserves “by liters”. The scientists admitted that they do not yet have a reliable method that would allow to establish the exact figures for water reserves. Nevertheless, the new report is still valuable – it showed that we are actually moving in the wrong direction, that is, into a resource dead end.
Where does the water go?
Obviously, the water does not “leave” itself. Each of those 21 problematic sources has its own unique history of waste. Most often, this is either mining, or agriculture, or simply the depletion of a resource by a large population of people.
Approximately 2 billion people worldwide receive their water exclusively from underground wells. The depletion of the usual reservoir will mean the worst for them: nothing to drink, nothing to cook food on, nothing to wash with, nothing to wash clothes with, etc.
A satellite study conducted by NASA has shown that the greatest depletion of water resources often occurs where the local population consumes it for domestic needs. It is underground water sources that are the only source of water for many settlements in India, Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula (there is the worst water situation on the planet) and North Africa. In the future, the population of the Earth will, of course, continue to increase, and due to the trend towards urbanization, the situation will certainly worsen.
Sometimes industry is responsible for the barbaric use of water resources. For example, the Canning Basin in Australia is the third most heavily exploited water resource on the planet. The region is home to gold and iron ore mining, as well as natural gas exploration and production.
The extraction of minerals, including fuel sources, depends on the use of such huge volumes of water that nature is not able to restore them naturally.
In addition, often mining sites are not so rich in water sources – and here the exploitation of water resources is especially dramatic. For example, in the US, 36% of oil and gas wells are located in places where fresh water is scarce. When the mining industry develops in such regions, the situation often becomes critical.
On a global scale, it is the extraction of water for irrigation of agricultural plantations that is the biggest source of water problems. One of the most “hot spots” in this problem is the aquifer in the California Valley of the United States, where agriculture is highly developed. The situation is also dire in regions where agriculture is entirely dependent on underground aquifers for irrigation, as is the case in India. Agriculture uses about 70% of all fresh water consumed by humans. Approximately 13 of this amount goes to growing fodder for livestock.
Industrial livestock farms are one of the main consumers of water all over the world – water is needed not only for growing feed, but also for watering animals, washing pens, and other farm needs. For example, in the US, a modern dairy farm consumes an average of 3.4 million gallons (or 898282 liters) of water per day for various purposes! It turns out that for the production of 1 liter of milk, as much water is poured as a person pours in the shower for months. The meat industry is no better than the dairy industry in terms of water consumption: if you calculate, it takes 475.5 liters of water to produce a patty for one burger.
According to scientists, by 2050 the world’s population will increase to nine billion. Considering that many of these people consume livestock meat and dairy products, it is clear that the pressure on drinking water sources will become even greater. Depletion of underwater sources, problems with agriculture and interruptions in the production of sufficient amounts of food for the population (ie hunger), an increase in the number of people living below the poverty line … All these are consequences of the irrational use of water resources.
What can be done?
It is clear that each individual person cannot start a “war” against malicious water users by interfering with gold mining or even simply turning off the irrigation system on the neighbor’s lawn! But everyone can already today begin to be more conscious about the consumption of life-giving moisture. Here are some helpful tips:
· Do not buy bottled drinking water. Many producers of drinking water sin by extracting it in arid regions and then selling it to consumers at an inflated price. Thus, with each bottle, the balance of water on the planet is disturbed even more.
- Pay attention to water consumption in your home: for example, the time you spend in the shower; turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth; Don’t let the water run in the sink while you rub the dishes with detergent.
- Limit the consumption of meat and dairy products – as we have already calculated above, this will reduce the depletion of water resources. The production of 1 liter of soy milk requires only 13 times the amount of water required to produce 1 liter of cow’s milk. A soy burger requires 115 water to make a meatball burger. The choice is yours.