Severe global water shortages predicted

In an article in The Independent, 15th March 2009, “Water scarcity is ‘now a bigger threat than financial crisis'” Geoffrey Lean reported that:

“By 2030, more than half the world’s population will live in high-risk areas.”

“Humanity is facing “water bankruptcy” as a result of a crisis even greater than the financial meltdown now destabilising the global economy, two authoritative new reports show. They add that it is already beginning to take effect, and there will be no way of bailing the earth out of water scarcity.”

“The two reports – one by the world’s foremost international economic forum and the other by 24 United Nations agencies – presage the opening tomorrow of the most important conference on the looming crisis for three years. The World Water Forum, which will be attended by 20,000 people in Istanbul, will hear stark warnings of how half the world’s population will be affected by water shortages in just 20 years’ time, with millions dying and increasing conflicts over dwindling resources. “

What should our response be in Woking? The obvious short term action is to cut out wasteful use of water in the home and at work. Turn off taps when brushing teeth; only wash full laundry and dishwashing loads; take short showers instead of baths; wash the car from a bucket, not a hose; use rainwater collected in butts to water the garden etc etc. The LA21 information resources on water use in the garden and in the house give lots more tips.

But water is used in so many things we buy, use and dispose of – food, clothes, cars, paper etc, that our hidden use of water is very significant and should be considered as well. Lower consumption overall means lower stress on finite water supplies.

For example if we all cut back on our consumption of meat, particularly beef, we would considerably reduce our personal ‘Water Footprint’. Bottled water is another choice that has a hidden impact – it’s estimated that each 1 litre plastic bottle makes use of as much as 6 litres of water in its manufacture. Not to mention the use of energy in processing, bottling and transporting it.