Home / Dystopia / Water Crisis: Its Horrible Impacts and Terrifying Consequences

Water Crisis: Its Horrible Impacts and Terrifying Consequences

by | Feb 25, 2023 | Dystopia




Earth is the only planet in our solar system that is covered in water. We live on the blue planet. For billions of years, this liquid has always been the essence of the planet. It flowed from the oceans to the air, and then return down to Earth.

Every living thing on earth has and needs cleanwater to survive and thrive. Civilizations are heavily dependent on this liquid to prosper, this is why we have always built communities near water and spent centuries building systems to divert it close to civilization.

However, even if this liquid has helped us thrive, we have always taken the latter for granted. Human activities are disrupting the natural cycle of water to a point that may be irreversible.

We’ve polluted it with toxins from industry and agricultural pesticides and we’ve disrupted the rain pattern by emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. Freshwater is almost always a renewable resource, but its quality and distribution throughout the globe are the subjects of considerable friction and conflict.

Freshwater is becoming one of the most scarce resources on the planet. It may sound weird because scientists are saying that sea levels are rising, we always heard that there is frequent flood and you probably have running water in your house.

And as mentioned at the beginning the world is awash by water or 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with it. So how could we be running out of water and what’s the impact?

Impact of water crisis

Water is one of the world’s most important and abundant resources, but more than 2.7 billion people are affected by water scarcity each year. And even if 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with this liquid, 97% of it is oceanwater.

Earth is mostly covered with seawater, which means that we can’t drink it or grow crops with it. And of the 3% that remains for human consumption, around 2.5% is beyond reach. It is beyond reach because it may be frozen in ice sheets, glaciers, permafrost, and permanent snow.

Only about 0.5% of all the water available on earth is accessible to all creatures on the planet. Almost 8 billion people depend on that water to stay clean and healthy. In addition to drinking and cleaning, it is used for many industrial processes, maintaining infrastructure, and growing crops.

In regions where the amount of human consumption is large, severe water shortages are almost guaranteed. Some regions are flush with freshwater while others face severe scarcity.

Presently, around 2.1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and about 2.7 billion face scarcity for at least one month a year. Climate change, population growth, inequality, and increased pollution all contribute to this calamity.

In many areas, water supply and demand are growing at faster rates than the capacity of freshwater resources. Earth produces enough of this liquid for everyone. Our ecosystem continuously produces and recycles it through the process called the water cycle.

While rainwater is available to us, our global society is misusing and wasting it. The problem is that human activities are disrupting its cycle, supply isn’t distributed evenly and freshwater is being depleted faster than it can be replenished by rain or snowfall.

Around 4.6 billion people live in urban areas which represent more than 55% of the global population. In developing countries, estimation reveals that about around 50% of people living in big cities do not have adequate sanitation, and around 30% lack access to safe sanitation.

This means that around 850 million people do not have proper sanitation and 500 million do not have cleanwater. What’s even worst is that the global population is expected to increase by 25% to reach almost 10 billion by 2050.

Freshwater is not only used for sanitation purposes but is also needed for agriculture, industry, and energy. It is needed to extract and sort raw materials, cool thermal power plants, cultivate fields, and power hydroelectric turbines. About 90% of all electric power generation is water-intensive.

Water has an obligation to support life, and we interfere with its ability to do so by polluting it, damming it, and stopping it from flowing where it should be going. These actions are unjust because they interfere with water’s ability to support life.

Industrial contamination of freshwater has devastating impacts on the natural world and aquatic life. This is the kind of problem that causes other problems for people. It is estimated that an average human needs 5.3 to 13.2 gallons of water for drinking, cooking, and washing.

However, in some parts of the world, women and children have to walk an average of 3.7 miles per day carrying about one gallon of water at a time for the entire family. Usually, these areas tend to have large families.

And sometimes the distance is even longer and the task is made more difficult as the water is heavy, they walk barefooted and the sun tends to be harsh. By the time they return home, it is already noon and they go to sleep thinking about where the next glass of freshwater will come from.

Collectively, women and children spend 200 million – 266 million hours per day finding water. and most of the time the liquid is contaminated. Every day, it is estimated that more than 1200 children die from unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Nearly one million people die each year due to hygiene-related diseases. This lack of basic sanitation represents an economic loss of USD 260 billion per year. The economic benefits of avoiding water-related death would account for USD 18.5 billion.

These harsh environments and conditions of living are mainly due to drought. In the last four decades, drought has devastated more people worldwide than any other natural disaster. It not only impacts freshwater resources, but also the environment, food production, and livestock, and creates mass displacement and health crises.

It is estimated that food loss due to drought could feed more than 80 million people per day. The calamity is also linked to a 10% increase in global migration. All these situations are set to become worst by global warming.

Human activity has changed the water cycle more in the last 150 years than nature usually does in 100,000-year cycles. It is estimated that 90% of all-natural disasters are water related. And this situation will not stop anytime soon.

The water crisis is mostly driven by physical and economic reasons. The ever-changing geographical distribution of population growth, urbanization, increased standard of living, consumerism, and climate change are fundamentally reshaping the economics and politics of water.

Freshwater is the most overused, abused, and underpriced resource in the world. A large portion of it is not renewable or is returned to the watershed but is undrinkable. Governments are also reluctant to intervene. Nobody wants to take action for cost analysis and formulate policies based on it.

Some countries just don’t have enough freshwater to support present and future population levels, while other faces water scarcity due to a lack of infrastructure, mismanagement of resources, or other economic factors.

The obvious damage made to freshwater resources is due to the consequences of global warming. But the main cause of the water crisis isn’t just climate change, it’s rooted in our relationship with this liquid.

The biggest causes of the water crisis are pollution, over-use, untreated human waste, oil spills, pesticides, sewage dumping, and wastewater leakage all leading to climate change. The climate crisis we are experiencing is mostly manmade.

The rapid rise in human populations has led to widespread changes in water ecosystems. The result is a loss of biodiversity, as well as diminished freshwater supplies. On a much larger scale, poor farming practices pose the biggest threat to the future of water.

Agriculture is one of the most important and biggest industries in the world. However, the industry uses 70% of the world’s accessible freshwater, 60% of which is wasted due to leakage and inefficient farming practices.

While climate change is certainly a factor in the global water crisis, there is a more powerful force at work. The meat industry uses an astounding amount of this liquid to irrigate corn that feeds cattle raised in massive feedlots.

It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one bushel of corn and a single beef eats around 50 bushels of corn over its lifetime. This means that 125,000 gallons are needed for every animal. And because these farms get freshwater for free, the cost to the planet for cheap meat is rapidly disappearing groundwater.

Our food consumes a lot of freshwater as one kg of beef needs approximately 15,415 liters and fruit and vegetable need around 962 and 322 liters respectively. From start to finish, everything around us has a bigger water footprint than we might imagine.

For example, it takes 140 liters to grow, process, and transport the beans for one cup of coffee. Globally, coal power plants consume the equivalent of one billion human water needs. It takes 1,700 liters to produce a 100g chocolate bar.

Moreover, it takes around 39,090 gallons of water to manufacture a car and 518 gallons for a single tire. To make a t-shirt cost 2,700 liters and a pair of jeans cost 7,600 liters. And to produce a mobile phone it cost around 13,000 liters.

The average person drinks only two liters of freshwater a day, but that same person consumes an estimated 3,000 liters per day through the food they eat and the products they purchase. The amount we consume every day is astonishing and it’s not without consequences.

Consequences of the water crisis

In 2015, water crises were classified as a top global risk. Currently, approximately 1.2 billion people lack access to safewater for domestic use. The impact of water crisis on the lives of these people is dire.

It affects their health and well-being. And is a growing concern and a major global problem. Water shortage is a real problem that must be tackled to improve the quality of life of people around the world.

Throughout history, major calamities have always occurred in the wake of water shortages. And major refugee crises have erupted as a result of droughts or conflicts over this resource. It is estimated that by 2050 around 5 billion people will live in areas with serious shortages.

This number represents mostly people living in East and South Asia, the Middle East, and fast-growing cities. Climate change is already affecting the natural cycle in unforeseen ways. This situation is also magnifying episodic droughts and floods.

Moreover, industrialization, economic development, and loss of biodiversity have changed ecosystems. In fact, around 41% of the world’s population lives in areas with high water stress. The increasing human population is placing additional strain on freshwater supplies.

In addition to these recurring challenges of water management, global warming poses new threats and will have several immediate effects. Higher temperatures mean increased evaporation, which will divert water that would otherwise fill streams, rivers, and lakes to the benefit of both urban and rural residents.

Furthermore, water stress causes the spread of diseases and also makes agriculture difficult, and threatens food supplies. This situation leads to acute and chronic hunger.

Changes in vegetation will alter rainwater patterns. Warming will make glaciers recede and eventually disappear, thus depriving streams and rivers of their steady flow. Freshwater available for irrigation will become scarcer.

The Aral Sea, once the fourth largest body of inland water in the world, has shrunk to a fraction of its former size due to the diversion of inflowing rivers for agricultural irrigation. In 2018, Cape Town residents faced “Day Zero,” which is when municipal taps would run dry.

Moreover, sporadic heavy rainfall in warmer areas will lead to temporary accumulations that will provide mosquitoes with new breeding areas, posing significant new public health challenges. People without adequate access to cleanwater are prone to diseases and mental health problems.

People living in water-stress regions are more prone to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, which impede their ability to thrive. These people also spend less time learning and working.

People living in these arid regions are forced to drink polluted liquids that come from flowing streams. Most of the liquid in these streams is contaminated, causing water-borne diseases that can be fatal.

In addition, stagnant water systems can become highly polluted, causing health problems for citizens. Even if access to cleanwater is easy for a majority of the population, there are still people who do not have it.

For instance, the Ganges River is sacred to more than one billion Hindus living in India, but it is also one of the world’s most polluted waterways. The Ganges provides sanitation for more than 500 million people, but it is contaminated with viruses and bacteria that cause life-threatening diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, and viral diarrhea.

Moreover, in areas with limited resources, liquid scarcity is most likely to increase. However, climate change will most likely make the situation worse, because it will alter the seasonal distribution of precipitation.

Climate change is a contributing factor to the global water crisis. This crisis can lead to food insecurity and increased human conflicts. Global freshwater resources must be conserved to keep a healthy global ecosystem.

It is estimated that by 2025, half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing scarcity. By 2030, some 700 million people could be displaced by the calamity. By 2040, one in four children will live in water-stress regions. And more than 5 billion people will face severe shortages by 2050.

Climate change has altered rainfall patterns, and human activities are impacting the availability of cleanwater more often and for longer. There is an immediate need to conserve the liquid we have now, otherwise, the consequences will be disastrous.

Final words

This liquid plays a vital role in the development of human societies. When its level is low, conflicts between countries and even among communities often occur. The impacts of the water crisis are not restricted to only one country or continent, it has a far-reaching and devastating effect on the global stage.

As we undergo climate change, the scarcity of our planet’s freshwater will surely be aggravated, intensifying the world water crisis we’re currently experiencing. As the population continues to rise, we cannot help but be concerned about our planet’s future.

Although cleanwater is crucial for all living things, it’s often taken for granted or overlooked in conversations about sustainability. In spite of being the planet’s most vital resource, it has always been undervalued and underpriced.

The crisis surrounding cleanwater is an ongoing concern and one that affects communities around the world. Hence it looks like we need to get back to basics and cut on wastage if we want to have a chance of saving our freshwater resources.