One can live without oil but one definitely cannot live without water. It is no coincidence that recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argue that water is the new oil of the future. With one eye on the future and the other on current data (from the field), global warming will lead to significant changes in all components of the freshwater exploitation and use system.
Researches and studies conducted from all over the world, in unison, reflect the bitter conclusion: water, in terms of both availability and quality, will represent the main and most serious problem to be faced. The whole of society is experiencing the effect of the problem through sudden climate change and water shortages once, which were once unimaginable. These are some tangible proof that we are wasting water, which has become a greater resource than oil as it’s the driving force for the lives of the entire human race.
Water Cycle: Is There Enough Water?
Some might argue that the Earth is full of water. Almost three-quarters of the earth’s surface are, in fact, covered with water, but most of it is not usable. Water is the new oil, but what is really usable is scarce and precious. 97% of the water on Earth is saline, present in the oceans. Freshwater sources are only 3%. Of that 3%, nearly 69% is locked up in glaciers and 30% is underground leaving ONLY 0.03% of all Earth’s water available as fresh and potable water typically in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams of water. It is one of the very few substances that are renewed.
But one of the most important aspects of this amazing substance is that it doesn’t run out like oil, for example, when the oil is burned, it turns into something else and is no longer available as such, i.e., it loses its nature and characteristics. It’s not the case with water, rather it returns to Earth through a perfect cycle.
Of that 3%, nearly 69% is locked up in glaciers and 30% is underground leaving ONLY 0.03% of all Earth’s water available as fresh and potable water typically in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams of water. It is one of the very few substances that are renewed.
Water is the new oil between wars and conflicts
Global warming has already begun to show how it can affect the world’s available water resources. Water is the resource on which our entire existence relies on. Added to this is the simultaneous growth of the world population which is increasing by 83 million per year. According to the UN report, the current world population, which is made up of 7.7 billion individuals, would reach:
- 8.5 billion in 2030.
- 9.7 billion in 2050.
- 10.9 billion in 2100.
Climate change, pollution along with the increase in population may prove to be enough to impact our freshwater availability as if it were something we owe.
Water and specific cases of countries in difficulty
Furthermore, scarcity of resources in agriculture could seriously compromise the need for all consumers to wash, cook, and drink water. For a nation like Bangladesh, for example, water scarcity could become a serious problem that could seriously affect an entire nation’s economic growth.
In such a case, forced migration is only one of the potential consequences; the others could be as extreme as the onset of wars and conflicts. Asia is already experiencing severe water and as per the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates – Indo – China’s rice production accounting for 13% of the global total – will suffer, leading to the escalation of prices. Cumulatively, it’s detrimental for poor countries as well as for the ones who import the food item.
We are so accustomed to using water that we have exploited it mindlessly. The combination of population growth and excessive-mindless consumption is catastrophic, leading to water scarcity. The scarcity of water reduces the standard of living of those affected by it, and further increases the costs in every sector – production and consumption. If things were to precipitate, even more, it could derail the image and even the economic pillars of the entire world architecture.
Hence, we have to take charge and manifest it individually by reconsidering the way we use water, and make a conscious decision so that we can cumulatively act better.
“Water is life: without it the body ceases to live quietly, passing first by a slow and desperate energy loss.” After oxygen, water is the thing essential element of existence and survival. We maybe experience the anguish of its absence only on the occasion of the interruption ordered by the Municipality for a few hours on a given day. Don’t we get anxious in such a situation?
There are many countries that import food often does so because they don’t have enough water to grow food domestically; either naturally in the form of rain or for irrigation purposes, and/or due to floods because of climate change, etc.
Water is essential for what we do
What would quench our thirst?
It goes without saying that we use water – we have renamed it the new oil – for a wide variety of things without realizing it. Yet we are running out of this extraordinary and precious resource. Without the resource of water can we –
- Fight fire?
- Provide basic sanitation?
- Would we be able to bathe?
- Washing utensils/clothes?
- Creating energy, from hydroelectric to natural gas generators to nuclear power?
- Manage our means of transport?
- Preparing food to eat?
The answer to the aforementioned questions are – No.
So, whatever we are doing now is that we are using water – fresh, potable water – faster than it can be renewed. In other words: we don’t give the water time to even complete its normal life cycle, and hence we are experiencing shortcomings. Therefore, we need to take responsibility for our mistakes and start changing habits.
Leahy, S (2014), “Water is far more valuable and useful than oil” The Guardian, United Kingdom, December 8, 2014
Ward, A (2017) “Water set to become more valuable than oil” The Financial Times, London, March 19, 2017
Leahy, S (2018), “Climate change impacts worse than expected, global report warns” The National Geographic, United States of America, October 7, 2018
Watts, J (2018), “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN” The Guardian, United Kingdom, October 8, 2018
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018), Switzerland. Retrieved from https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf
Sunil Trivedi is the Managing Director of Aqua Drink, with 15 years of experience in the water purification industry, Sunil and his team has been ensuring that his clients consume 100% potable water to lead a healthy life and keeping water-borne diseases miles away.