I credit Rashid Faridi, another WordPress blogger for alerting me to the video graphic of All the Water on Earth. The video is only 48 seconds long but it makes quite a statement about Earth’s most precious commodity. In the image below, the larger blue sphere represents the total amount of water on the planet. The smaller sphere to the right is all the freshwater on the planet.
It’s raining in Toronto today and I live about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes that dominate the map of Eastern North America. So it is hard for me as I look out my window to think of freshwater as being scarce. But from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) comes the following:
- The physical lack of water impacts 1.2 billion people, 20% of the people on the planet.
- Another 500 million are approaching the same challenge as the 1.2 billion.
- Another 1.6 billion of us lack the infrastructure to use the water resources around us.
- Water use is growing twice as fast as population growth.
- There is enough freshwater today on the planet to support 7 billion but it is unequally distributed and poorly managed.
So that means 3.3 billion today, representing 47% of the people of Earth suffer from inadequate freshwater access. Now project to 2025. UNDESA projects absolute water scarcity for 1.8 billion on the planet. Add climate change to the equation and by 2030 half the world’s population will live in areas of high water stress and we will see significant migration away from areas on the planet such as Sub-Saharan Africa where water scarcity will become acute.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has released a blueprint for action to cope with water scarcity. Let’s hope countries and populations in greatest need are paying attention to its recommendations.