Water Problems Worsten
Water shortages around the world continue to worsen, compounded by growing demand and increasing ecological damage that is lessening supply.
An estimated one billion people lack enough clean water to drink, and at least two billion lack the water to drink, clean and eat. Lack of water is a one cause of the millions of deaths each year from disease and malnutrition, chronic hunger.
So far, many countries have held the problem at bay by overusing fresh water from lakes or aquifers, and by importing virtual water in the form of food imports.
Industrialized countries are also starting to experience tight water supplies. The most dramatic example of this has been Australia where a six year drought has decimated its rice production--once a major source of supply for Asia. Drought has plagued other areas from California to Spain.
Water is becoming a critical issue for industries that once took its availability for granted. Scott Noesen, director of sustainability and business integration at Dow Chemical, claims that, "Everyone shares this water model where it's cheap, cheap, cheap—then unavailable. It's huge because we're trying to grow around the world, and where we want to grow often has issues of fresh water."
In the U.S. power generation is a major consumer of using almost as much water as agriculture which uses almost 40% of the 345 billion gallons of fresh water used per day.
In South Asia, water has become weapon that India has used against Pakistan. With as many as twelve dams either built or projected for the Chenab River, a vital lifeline for Pakistan. Pakistanis charge that India is using water as a strategic weapon against Pakistan, a country already reeling from hyper inflation, critical shortages of basic food and the ever worsening energy crisis.
Water will continue to be a serious health problem for the poor, while at the same time being a geopolitical weapon between countries, and possibly--like oil-- becoming the focal point for future wars