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Will we run out of water in the future?

Parts of the world are currently experiencing record droughts. New water wells have to be drilled deeper just to get to groundwater for homes. Many scientists believe that without solutions to water scarcity, we could be facing the catastrophic consequences of a world with a shortage of fresh water to meet 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 occurring in every corner of the Earth. Whether or not you believe that man is directly responsible for changes in our planet’s climate system is not really important. What is important is to understand that the climate on Earth changes over time and affects things like temperature, weather, and even the availability of fresh water for drinking, bathing, irrigating crops, etc. as a result of changes in rainfall levels.

However, climate change is not the only problem affecting the availability of fresh water. Essentially, the 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 solutions to water scarcity at all then?

Well, how much fresh water is available for use is a different story, particularly in any given location. As the population continues to grow, more and more fresh water must be consumed, not only for drinking, but also for growing crops, food production, etc. More importantly, Earth’s water cycle does not redistribute water everywhere equally. So even though the water cycle continues to recycle the water we use as humans, keeping the total water on Earth basically the same, not every place in the world receives the water that was used fast enough to keep up with consumption by the population of that place.

Often, the solution to water scarcity in one place means tapping into another’s reserves to fill the void. More wells are being drilled, leading to a more rapid loss of freshwater reserves in groundwater aquifers that are slow to replenish under the Earth’s natural rainfall cycle. Rivers are also tapped and water is transported through pipes to populated areas to provide much-needed fresh water, leading to lower water levels and even complete drying of riverbeds in some cases. The ecosystems and fisheries that depend on these rivers can be disrupted or completely eradicated.

While the total amount of water on planet Earth remains the same as it was millions of years ago, the availability of fresh water in our future may well be of great concern for generations to come. Whether on a societal or individual scale, we all need to do our part to discover and implement solutions to water scarcity to make sure we don’t go without our most basic necessities of life; water.

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