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We are all aware of the importance of water as an element of life and a common good for the survival of the living beings that inhabit the Earth. Without a doubt, the greatest benefit that water provides us, commonly called "blue gold", is the use we make of it to hydrate ourselves. However, water has many other uses in our day to day; uses in the irrigation of irrigated agriculture crops, in industries, in the water we use for domestic purposes (cooking, washing and cleaning), etc. In this way, water is considered one of the most important public health indicators of any population.
On the other hand, outside of the anthropic ecosystem, water is the Earth's stabilizer, since it controls climates and cleanses the atmosphere of polluting particles. It is also considered the universal solvent par excellence, since it is possible to solubilize almost all substances and, as if that were not enough, also thanks to water, plants are able to absorb their nutrients.
For all this, protecting and conserving water is vitally importantespecially if we take into account the serious conflict of water scarcity. Continue reading this Green Ecologist article to learn more about the water scarcity: what is it, causes and consequences.
What is water scarcity
The great increase in the consumption of fresh water as a natural resource has become in recent decades a serious problem facing humanity, which has led to lack of water to supply the world's population. The demanding demand for "blue gold" among the population has caused that the amount of fresh water available to supply all regions and populations of the planet is not enough.
In 2022, a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warned that water scarcity will affect 5 billion people by 2050. The main reasons? Climate change, increased demand and supply contamination, among many other factors.
Next, let's see better what are the main causes of water scarcity.
Main causes of water scarcity
Both historically and politically, many countries have made proper water management difficult, as many territories only focused on the desire to achieve greater economic and geopolitical development. In this way, water scarcity should not necessarily be associated with poor and underdeveloped countries, as there are also many developed countries that suffer from the causes and consequences of water scarcity.
The main causes that have led to water scarcity are:
- Destruction of natural water sources: these have been carried out through the overexploitation of rivers and groundwater reserves.
- Greater demand: the massive population, industrial and agricultural growth has caused the demand for water to rise dramatically.
- Consumption patterns: since these generate large imbalances by not allowing the available water to be renewed.
- Climate change: the great culprit of the worst times of droughts is climate change, a great problem that we have caused among all of society.
- Bad distribution: one of the main causes of water scarcity is the inequitable distribution of fresh water in the world.
- Contaminated water: It is worth highlighting the contamination of the water of rivers, streams, lakes and lagoons due to the dumping of different toxic wastes. Among these residues we find those that come from industrial and domestic waste and those derived from crop fields in which agrochemicals have been used. If you are interested in knowing more information, do not miss this article on Solutions to water pollution.
- The unsustainable extraction of water from sources, rivers and lakes: said extraction prevents the water from following its cycle as a renewable resource. This is because, generally, the water is extracted much faster than it takes to renew itself.
- Massive urbanization: the last great cause is urbanization, since it is concentrated in populations with increasing demographic indices. We cannot forget either the country-city exodus, as this entails a higher standard of living and, consequently, a greater use of water.
In the next section we will focus on describing the consequences of water scarcity.
Consequences of water scarcity
Water scarcity situations pose serious threats to global security, as both the supply and renewal of water in the world are increasingly challenged. For this reason, access to this fundamental element has become a source of power or, on the contrary, a threat of discord that carries various consequences. These are the main consequences of water scarcity in the world:
- Conflicts between states worldwide.
- Situations of water stress in the population due to the deficit of available resources. If you want to learn more about this serious problem, don't miss this Green Ecologist article on Water stress: water in danger.
- Difficulties in the population to provide water with the quality and in the necessary quantities.
- The low awareness about the problem of water scarcity leads to damage on the maintenance of the quantity and quality of available water, as well as to establish an equitable distribution for its consumption. To remedy this conflict, take a look at this other article on Why it is important to take care of water.
- Health risks when consuming water that has not received proper treatment and that has been subjected to stagnation and proliferation of insects, rodents and other animals carrying infectious diseases.
Here is a video that will help you learn more about the topic of water scarcity.
If you want to read more articles similar to Water scarcity: what is it, causes and consequences, we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment.
- Agudelo, R. M. (2005) Water, a strategic resource of the XXI century. Journal of the National School of Public Health, University of Antioquia. Volume (23): 93-101.
- Drafting Team (03/19/2018) UN: In 2050 about 5 billion people will live in areas with water scarcity. EFE Magazine: Green, World Water Forum.
- Cabrera, E. (2002) How to live with the scarcity of water? The case of the Canary Islands. Geological and Mining Bulletin, Madrid. Volume 113 (3): 243-258.
- Costa, C. et. al, (2005) The water scarcity index: a crisis indicator or an alert to guide the management of water resources ?. Engineering Magazine, Universidad de los Andes. Volume (22): 104-111.