Fresh water is crucial to human society – not just for drinking, but also for farming, washing and many other activities. It is expected to become increasingly scarce in the future, and this is partly due to climate change.
Understanding the problem of fresh water scarcity begins by considering the distribution of water on the planet. Approximately 98% of our water is salty and only 2% is fresh. Of that 2%, almost 70% is snow and ice, 30% is groundwater, less than 0.5% is surface water (lakes, rivers, etc) and less than 0.05% is in the atmosphere. Climate change has several effects on these proportions on a global scale. The main one is that warming causes polar ice to melt into the sea, which turns fresh water into sea water, although this has little direct effect on water supply.The whole world will never be underwater. But our coastlines would be very different. If all the ice covering Antarctica, Greenland, and in mountain glaciers around the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 70 meters (230 feet). Every continent would undergo catastrophic changes but Africa would be the least affected.Compared with other continents, Africa would lose less of its land to the rising seas. Also Africa would retain most of its fresh water and capacity to grow food.Over the past century, the burning of fossil fuels and other human and natural activities has released enormous amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
These emissions have caused the Earth’s surface temperature to rise, and the oceans absorb about 80 percent of this additional heat.When water heats up, it expands. About half of the past century’s rise in sea level is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.The warming of the planet will continue and will accelerate because of methane released in the artic the process became irreversible in 2013 but some nations may wish to keep this from the public to avoid widespread panic and migration. The world we can expect to come will be turned upside down. Most of Europe will be gone in a melted icecap world thus we see a great migration occurring as people move towards the interior and away from costal and Island population centers. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we can expect the oceans to rise between up to 3 feet conservatively by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast. More dire estimates that include the effects methane release would have, predict a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, place sea level rise to 23 feet (7 meters), enough to submerge London.
Looking at Antarctica’s 15 major drainage basins and three glaciers in Greenland, the researchers relied on two ice-loss scenarios–alterations in the Earth’s mass distribution that continue to occur as the crust rebounds after the last ice age, 10,000 years ago; and the fact that as glaciers melt, the Earth’s gravitational pull in the surrounding areas decreases, sending water away from the glaciers and redistributing it to other parts of the world.In the United States, Hawaii and Florida will be hit hard. Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences, reported that at least one-third of the massive ice field atop Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa has disappeared, or melted, in the last dozen years. About 82 percent of the ice field has been lost and the Peru’s Quelccaya ice cap in the Southern Andes Mountains has shrunk by at least 20 percent since 1963.
The retreat of the Kilimanjaro and Quelccaya ice caps are the most dramatic evidence, of how quickly climate change is changing the world For Kilimanjaro, more than four-fifths of the vast ice field that covered the top of the highest mountain in Africa has disappeared in the last 80 years and all will be gone by 2020. An ice cap on Mount Kenya has shrunk by 40 percent since 1963. In the case of Qori Kalis, Quelccaya’s main ice tongue, the rate of retreat has reached 155 meters (509 feet) per year, three times faster than the rate measured during the last measurement period from 1995 to 1998.
The melting ice has formed a large lake at the front of the glacier which did not exist in 1983 but now covers more than 10 acres. Interestingly enough South Africa boast one of the most clean water systems in the world, however access to safe water in sub-Saharan Africa is worse than any other area on the continent, with only 22 percent to 34 percent of populations in at least eight sub-Saharan countries having access. The bulding of water purification plants would be a major boost to health and the economies of the region.Be that as it may the water rights in these areas may be the best investment a person could make when you consider the effects climate change will have on fresh water sources of the future.Expected water shortages will shift public perception of the value of water, prompting governments and companies to view clean water not as a commodity to exploit but as a precious resource. Population growth, urban development, farm production and climate change are increasing competition for fresh water and producing shortages. There is the feeling that one day Africa’s water resources wil be more valuable than its mineral ones.
The question is will Africans be able to retain ownership of their water or will its leaders sell them out fr European wealth as they have so often done before.Typically the Middle East has capitalized on its large energy reserves to build desalination plants. But Saudi Arabia could be fostering a new kind of desalination with its recent announcement to use solar-powered plants.As water scarcity complicates food security and pollution, governments need to redefine their role. The U.S. government was considering expanding the Clean Water Act prior to the Trump presidency to ensure more protections. In Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has approved waste discharges in Lake Baikal, one of the world’s largest bodies of freshwater.
Poor infrastructure is devastating to health and the economy. It wastes resources, adds costs, diminishes the quality of life, and allows preventable water-borne diseases to spread among vulnerable populations, especially children. The problem is not confined to the developing world the poisoned water of Flint Michigan proved that. Africa and parts of India are literally the only parts of the earth with accelerating growth in global population,these parts of the world could see a supply-demand gap of up to 50 percent in water resources by 2030. Currently, more than one billion people don’t have access to clean water.
And with 70 percent of the world’s freshwater used for agriculture, water’s critical role in food production must be considered as climate and resource conditions change. Many are seeing a fast growing European migration to African nations and economic colonialism occurring as newly rich African business entities economically colonize European nations like Portugal.Clean water is a basic necessity for life, but it is not a reality for much of our global population. In response, many social impact organizations work tirelessly to eliminate this threat, save lives, and transform societies for the better. Generosity.org currently brings safe water to Haiti, Ghana, Uganda, and India. Through collaboration, they leverage the knowledge and expertise of their local partners to select the appropriate water solution for each region, which can include different types of wells, rain-water harvesting systems, and spring protection systems.Blood:Water partners with African communities to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises.
In an effort to fit every community’s varying needs, the organization provides a wide range of solutions. From toilets and hand washing stations, to services preventing mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission, local partners are empowered to choose the solutions that would best serve their communities.Planet Water Foundation serves schools, children, and rural communities around the world by installing water filtration systems and launching health education programs. Their filtration systems, called “AquaTowers,” trap bacteria, viruses, and other harmful matter and provide 1,000 people with 10,000 liters of clean water per day. Children can also wash their hands in the soap dishes mounted around the structure.