It is not a big secret that roughly 70% of our planet is covered in water. The problem is that only an estimated 2.5% is freshwater and what makes it worse is that we only have an availability of 0.006%. This ladies and gentlemen brings us to one of many challenges of the 21st century. We just do not have enough global freshwater supplies to maintain our ever growing global population and support global economic expansion.
Urbanization adds to the issues and the biggest culprit of freshwater use as well as abuse is the agricultural sector which accounts for over 70% of all freshwater usage. Most of it can be attributed to the surge in demand for products due to the out-of-control growth in our global population.
Here are a few numbers to digest:
- 1 pound of wheat requires 175 gallons of water
- 1 pound of rise requires 400 gallons of water
- 1 pound of beef requires 600 gallons of water
Those figures are borderline shocking and as part of the solution to our freshwater crisis we need to become more efficient, much more efficient. We have to learn to do much more with so much less. Technology will be able to assist us with it, but we are running out of time and have to act yesterday in order to prevent the problems from tomorrow. Outside-the-box thinking is required combined with a radical approach if we want to prevent a post-apocalyptic scenario were wars will be staged over freshwater supplies and other agricultural commodities.
Extreme water shortages are reality in the U.S., where 56% are experiencing drought conditions, the entire Korean peninsula which suffers from the worst drought in over a century, China, Russia, India as well as large parts of the African continent. Europe is the only region which does not suffer to the extent of its global counterparts.
Given current global business as well as population patterns it is expected that freshwater demand will be greater than available freshwater supply by 2030 while it may threaten over $60 Trillion in global GDP by mid-century. The window of opportunity to act closes at an alarming rate and as with every major global crisis leadership will do too little too late and a large part of the population will have to suffer.
There needs to be a severe increase in desalination technology which will play a vital part in order to ensure to continued existence of all living organisms on our planet. Current technology is neither efficient nor green, both requirements for a true successful long-term solution to the problem. Technology alone will not solve the global freshwater shortage. In addition we need a full behavioral change by the population.
Failure to implement both key elements will result in an overall agricultural commodity shortage which will directly translate into citizen unrest, violence and riots down to eventually the inevitable decrease in the global population which will lead to a decrease in demand and after two decades we may have reached equilibrium. The global population needs to decrease to below 2 Billion in order to create a sustainable global economy.
The choices ahead will be tough, but necessary. We need people to step up to the challenge with real solutions as well as people who are willing to make the tough decisions and enforce them in order for all measures to function properly and achieve the required results which will make life better for all who will make it through the severe global depression which should engulf the planet after 2027.