The 21st century could see water turn into an essential commodity along the lines of oil as water use continues to rise faster than the world population.
Water has been essential to human’s survival since the advent of civilization, but the demand for the limited resource has soared as the soon-to-be 7 billion people on Earth continue to urbanize and develop at an unprecedented rate. As of October 28, 2001, the world population was roughly at 699,500,000. 7 Billion is expected November 1, 2011. (yes, 500K people in 2.5 days.)
The situation is only expected to worsen as water use continues to grow at more than twice the rate of the population increase, said Kirsty Jenkinson of the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank.
“Water use is predicted to increase by 50 percent between 2007 and 2025 in developing countries and 18 percent in developed ones, with much of the increased use in the poorest countries with more and more people moving from rural areas to cities,” said Jenkinson.
“Factor in the expected impacts of climate change this century – more severe floods, droughts and shifts from past precipitation patterns – that are likely to hit the poorest people first and worst and we have a severe challenge on our hands,” she added.
Already over a billion people lack access to clean water and over 2 billion live without adequate sanitation, which leads to the deaths of over 5 million people, mostly children, annually from preventable waterborne diseases.
Jenkinson articulated that to head off the crisis, an integrated water resource management must be created that takes into account who needs what kind of water, as well and where and how to use it most efficiently.
“Water is going to quickly become a limiting factor in our lifetimes,” said Ralph Eberts, executive vice president of Black & Veatch, a $2.3 billion engineering business that designs water systems and operates in over 100 countries.
Read more at Reuters.