Water, water, everywhere; or not. It requires more water to manufacture a new car (39,090 gallons) than to fill an above ground swimming pool.
Before we begin addressing the problem of water shortage, please consider these facts as reported in a WSJ article on May, 28 of this year:
A surprisingly vast amount of water is required to produce many common goods. It takes more than 10 gallons of water to produce one slice of bread, according to the U.S. EPA. About 713 gallons of water are used to produce one cotton T-shirt.
Water is a huge cost of doing business in many industries, says Scott Torreano, professor of forestry at Sewanee: The University of the South, a private college located in Sewanee, Tennessee. “In the forestry industry, a tremendous amount of the total cost of producing a piece of paper is due to water treatment costs.” As a result, leading companies are embracing a wide range of strategies to tackle an impending water shortage.
According to a U.S. government report, 36 states are already facing water shortages or will be facing water shortages within the next few years.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) review state water regulators and experts and review of water supply literature found that officials in 40 out of 50 states expect water shortages to occur in some parts of their states in the next decade. Many officials are concerned about water shortages in the future, especially in the wake of a severe drought that has hit the west coast.
Lake Mead supplies about 85 percent of the water to Las Vegas, and since 1998 the level of water in Lake Mead has dropped by about 5.6 trillion gallons. It has been estimated that the state of California only has a 20 year supply of fresh water left. It has been estimated that the state of New Mexico only has a 10 year supply of fresh water left. Approximately 40 percent of all rivers in the United States and approximately 46 percent of all lakes in the United States have become so polluted that they are are no longer fit for human use.
The 1,450 mile long Colorado River is a good example of what we have done to our precious water supplies. It is probably the most important body of water in the southwestern United States, and it is rapidly dying.
California’s drought is now in its third year and is expected to worsen, thanks to record high temperatures and a low snowpack in the state’s mountains. Nearly 80 percent of the state is now in what scientists call “extreme or exceptional” drought, which has caused the state water control board to call for mandatory water restrictions in urban areas and for some holders of agricultural water rights.
In the midst of this drought crisis, California’s Department of Food and Agriculture commissioned a report from scientists and economists at the University of California, Davis. Richard Howitt, a UC Davis professor emeritus of agricultural and natural resource economics, said California’s economy is expected to lose a total of $2.2 billion this year as a result of the drought. “What really hurts is we’re losing 17,100 jobs,” said Howitt. Most of those jobs are seasonal and part-time work in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys. “They are mostly from the sector of society that is least able to roll with the punches,” Howitt added. “There are pockets of extreme deprivation where they are out of water and out of jobs… There are going to be more pockets of pain and poverty.”
According to the UC Davis report, the state’s agricultural sector faces a net water shortage of 1.6 million acre-feet this year, which will cause losses of $810 million in crop revenue and $203 million in lost dairy and other livestock value, plus additional groundwater pumping costs of $454 million. These direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion. When the job losses are factored in, the total economic impact to the state economy is estimated to be $2.2 billion.
Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said at the press briefing that the purpose of the report is to “figure out how to survive droughts better.” She said the state government had been surprised by the impact a smaller drought in 2009 had on seasonal farm workers in Fresno County, when food banks were overwhelmed by those seeking assistance. California is currently in the grips of a harsh dry spell — with every part of the state facing “severe,” “extreme,” or “exceptional” drought. That’s a potential problem for the nation’s food supply, since California is responsible for about half of the fruits and vegetables grown in the United States. That includes 99 percent of all the nation’s almonds, 95 percent of its broccoli, 90 percent of its tomatoes, and 74 percent of its lettuce.
So what does all this mean to you? Brace yourself for some painful “agflation”. That is the shorthand for agricultural commodity inflation, otherwise known as rising food prices. They are being driven upwards by the climb in grain and oilseed prices as US crops weather the country’s worst drought since 1936, while the farming belts of Russia and South America suffer through similar water shortages.
What we are seeing represents the third major rally in global grain and oilseed prices in just half a decade. Worse is to come, new research warns. World food prices look set to hit an all-time high in the first quarter of next year – and then keep rising, according to the analysis from Rabobank, a specialist in agricultural commodities. Water scarcity has a huge impact on food production. Without water people do not have a means of watering their crops and, therefore, to provide food for the fast growing population.
The world is rapidly running out of clean water. Some of the largest lakes and rivers on the globe are being depleted at a very frightening pace, and many of the most important underground aquifers that we depend on to irrigate our crops will soon be gone. At this point, approximately 40 percent of the entire population of the planet has little or no access to clean water, and it is being projected that by 2025 two-thirds of humanity will live in “water-stressed” areas. But most Americans are not too concerned about all of this because they assume that North America has more fresh water than anyone else does. And actually they would be right about that, but the truth is that even North America is rapidly running out of water and it is going to change all of our lives. Today, the most important underground water source in America, the Ogallala Aquifer, is rapidly running dry. The most important lake in the western United States, Lake Mead, is rapidly running dry. The most important river in the western United States, the Colorado River, is rapidly running dry. Putting our heads in the sand and pretending that we are not on the verge of an absolutely horrific water crisis is not going to make it go away. Without water, you cannot grow crops, you cannot raise livestock and you cannot support modern cities. As this global water crisis gets worse, it is going to affect every single man, woman and child on the planet.
The U.S. intelligence community understands what is happening. According to one shocking government report that was released last year, the global need for water will exceed the global supply of water by 40 percent by the year 2030.
Right now, the United States uses approximately 148 trillion gallons of fresh water a year, and there is no way that is sustainable in the long run.
Total global water use has quadrupled over the past 100 years, and it is now increasing faster than it ever has been before.
Today, there are 1.6 billion people that live in areas of the globe that are considered to be “water-stressed”, and it is being projected that two-thirds of the entire population of the globe will be experiencing “water-stressed” conditions by the year 2025.
According to USAID, one-third of the people on earth will be facing “severe” or “chronic” water shortages by the year 2025.
What can be done about it?