Monday, May 11, 2009

Water Shortages

We have water everywhere. Water flows off mountains, collects in lakes, and comprises 70% of the Earth's surface. It is hard to imagine our world without water. So when the idea of it running out is mentioned, it seems so funny that we pay little attention. If we listen, then we find the signs of its disappearance are also everywhere.

Places all across the globe are experiencing short-term water shortages (For example, Putrajaya, Malaysia; Hechi, Guangxi, China; San Diego, California, US; Roane County, West Virginia, US; Montgomery County, Maryland, US; Durham, North Carolina, US). Nations such as Australia and Spain are already noticing significant long-term water shortages, who say

The battles of yesterday were fought over land, they warn. Those of the present center on oil. But those of the future -- a future made hotter and drier by climate change in much of the world -- seem likely to focus on water, they say.

Two great examples of works that discuss a future without water are this Spanish poem (also in English and video), and the legacy of John Titor. While John Titor has made several predictions that turned out to be false (for example, he said Y2K would be devastating), he also predicted that water would become more scarce. This seems to be exactly what we are starting to see in many cities today.

Although a total water shortage is still a very far away, water contamination may be a problem sooner. It is already starting to kill off many spicies to the brink of extinction (for example Fish and Frogs). Modern apathy may compel one to dismiss these, since they're just frogs, but ask yourself: What can we learn from frogs? Frogs (and most amphibians) are both land and water-based creatures, so they represent the future health of both fish and mammals. Since humans are mammals, that means we're next! If that wasn't enough, you might also be interested to know that the science of cryogenics (freezing people and bringing them back to life) rests on the study of tree frogs. Any selfish ego-centric person would love to get frozen when they're 80, and wake up in a hundred years when there's a cure waiting just for them. So regardless of your disposition, selfish or selfless, clean water is important.

We find that there is a growing awareness that water will not be as plentiful as it is now. Lessons given by John Titor and Tree Frogs both indicate we should reevaluate our water situation soon. Avoiding to do so would mean its scarcity would surpass that of both land and oil. Just as oil has been called Black Gold it may be inevitable that in our near future, all power struggles will be for Liquid Gold.

Images Copyright (c) 2007 Associated Press.

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