Drinking water: The planet in crisis

Drinking water: The planet in crisis

Drought causes devastating effects in the countries that suffer them. Today many countries have less water than they need. At the beginning of the next century, a third of the nations will be permanently short of water. Spring is getting poorer as a result of forest clearing and climate change. The underground lakes, which date back to prehistoric times, are rapidly depleting.

The human being considers the soil, which he normally calls earth, as something dead, where he can place, accumulate or throw away any solid or liquid product that is no longer useful or that he knows is toxic. Humanity gets the most water from rivers, but almost all of them are unusable due to pollution. Desalinated seawater is a potential source, although the cost of the process is ten times higher.

Political inertia exacerbates the water crisis. The global water crisis will take on unprecedented proportions in the coming years and will increase the growing shortage of water for people living in many underdeveloped countries. Water resources will continually decline due to population growth, pollution and climate change.

Of all the social and natural crises that human beings must face, that of water resources is the one that most affects our own survival and that of the planet. No region of the world will be able to avoid the repercussions of this crisis that affects all aspects of life, from the health of children to the diet of human beings. Water supplies are shrinking, while demand is growing at an astonishing and unsustainable rate. The global average per capita water supply is expected to decline by one third in the next twenty years.

The lack of awareness about the magnitude of the problem, the inertia of the leaders and inappropriate attitudes and behaviors explain the progressive deterioration of the situation and the reason why the necessary measures are not adopted.

By the middle of this century, billions of people will suffer from water scarcity around the world. It is estimated that 20% of the increase in global water scarcity will be due to climate change. In humid areas, rainfall is likely to increase, while in many drought-prone areas, and even in some tropical and subtropical regions, it will decrease and be more irregular. The quality of the water will deteriorate with the elevation of its temperature and the increase of the contamination indices. In recent years there has been a significant decrease in its quality. And the most affected continue to be the poor, since 50% of the population of underdeveloped countries is exposed to the danger posed by contaminated water sources.

Other very important problems that arise are those of the quality and the good administration of the water. In the world there are more than 2.2 million people who die each year due to diseases caused by contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation. A large proportion of those deaths are due to water-borne diseases. Approximately one million people die of malaria each year and more than 200 million are affected by schistosomiasis, a condition also known as bilharziosis. All these terrible misfortunes, as well as the suffering and loss they entail, can be avoided.

Currently the industry uses 22% of the water consumed in the world. In rich countries this percentage rises to 59%, while in poor countries it only reaches 8%. In the year 2,025 this proportion will reach 24%. It is estimated that 1,170 km³ of water per year will be used for industrial uses by then.

There is also the risk of privatizing drinking water production, distribution and pricing. In this situation, it is always the poor who suffer the most, since they have less access to water supply and must pay proportionally more for it. For example, in New Delhi –India-, water is sold to the poor at a rate of 4.89 dollars per cubic meter, while families with running water at home pay only 0.01 dollars for the same amount. In Vientiane - Lao People's Democratic Republic - vendors charge $ 14.68 per cubic meter, while the municipal fee is only $ 0.11.

When infrastructure and services are lacking, urban areas lacking water supply and sanitation facilities constitute one of the most dangerous environments for human life. Very few homes on this earth have drains that go to the sewers. The poor population living in this situation in the cities is the first victim of the conditions caused by the lack of sanitation, floods and even by diseases caused by water such as malaria, which has become one of the main causes of illness and death in many urban areas. On the other hand, as the demand for water increases, rumors also proliferate about the wars that may come due to the lack of water

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Video: Elizabeth Kolbert: RS Interview Special Edition (June 2021).