Water is essential for economic activities as well as for the well-being of humans. Considering how critical water is to both agricultural production and domestic consumption, conflict over water and the potential ramifications of decisions made over it may have much further consequences for human well-being. It can even have an impact on economic development and social change.
The problem of getting access to fresh water is a global priority that needs to be addressed, since its scarcity has led to various problems all around the world.
Access to safe water is vital for the survival of all life on Earth. Civilization began along the banks of rivers and canals, and waterways played a significant role in the development of agriculture, commerce, and advances in industry, science, and technological innovation.
Water scarcity is not just a result of natural resource depletion; it is also the result of power relations and political decisions. Addressing water development as a political problem might provide light on some of the extra areas of concern.
The availability of clean drinking water has long played a role in politics, with decisions about the provision of services having the potential to positively impact or harm citizens depending on their access to safe water in their communities. Because of the scarcity of this essential resource, communities are forced to compete against one another for access to it.
Social conflicts and societal change are created and influenced at the same time by the natural conditions in which water occurs, sometimes in unexpected and unforeseen directions. There are structural obstacles in water development that address infrastructure, financing, and economic sustainability, as well as education and awareness of water issues.
For example, water has an effect on gender and income inequality in plenty of underdeveloped communities. Women are traditionally the family members responsible for retrieving water. When they spend a significant portion of their day procuring this basic resource, they are unable to alleviate their financial situation through work or education.
Being in a situation with no fresh water is indeed a terrifying concept since it poses a major and immediate danger to our own life. Regrettably, this is a concern that millions of individuals currently experience on a daily basis.
It is reasonable to assume that water, which occupies 70% of our planet, would always be abundant. However, fresh water, on the other hand, is rather scarce. More than two-thirds of the freshwater on the planet is frozen in glaciers or otherwise inaccessible to humans.
Despite water being virtually everywhere from seas and rivers to underground reservoirs, why is it still a scarce resource? This might happen if there is a shortage of supply or if the infrastructure for distribution is inadequate.
Water resources are being depleted in some parts of the world on a regular basis, such as in northern Africa, the Middle East, and western Asia. Excessive use of non-renewable resources to meet water needs has led some countries to extract ten times their yearly renewable water supply. If nothing is done, the people of these countries will face an impending humanitarian catastrophe if ever these water reserves become depleted.
Water scarcity and insecurity is a threat to human lives and ecosystems everywhere. This can lead to severe malnutrition among people and gradual economic decline for affected nations.
Whole ecosystems suffer when freshwater is insufficient. Pollution may cause rivers, lakes, and aquifers to dry up. As a consequence of climate change, some places are experiencing water shortages and drought, while others are experiencing floods.
Since it has been established that water scarcity is not just an issue of supply and demand but also an issue of politics, it is critical that we tackle systemic issues associated with water resource management and habitat protection prior to the onset of the worst effects of climate change.
Governments, corporations, and local communities must cooperate to maintain adequate in-stream levels of freshwater for humans and other freshwater species, as well as to encourage ways for sustainable consumption. There is also a need for these institutions to develop and adapt innovative solutions that would aid in the effort of maintaining water supply and prevent future problems with water insecurity.
Human lives and entire civilizations depend on water to exist and thrive— and yet, the problems surrounding adequate water supply and distribution remain severely understated.
We need to understand how social pressure influences the way resources are allocated and handled. We would be better equipped in holding governments responsible and exercising our rights to clean water if we are more informed about how politics affects natural resources management.
Inadequate understanding of the relationship between access to sufficient water and national stability poses grave global security implications, particularly if remedial technology and policy measures to strengthen water resilience and assure availability and access are not adopted.
In TARTLE, we believe that proactive collaboration is the key to hurdling various issues, including those that affect humanity in a global scheme. Information and cooperation is a vital part in addressing these systemic problems, and we envision a society strengthened by these values. The power is back in your hands.
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Something is in the Water
Climate scientists spend a lot of time studying the past to predict the future. Now, you might be recalling all the times we’ve talked about the danger of thinking you can figure out the future just by studying the past. That certainly stands, but the fact is, you have to start somewhere. Going back to what has come before can provide a valuable baseline for understanding how one thing affects another and can contribute to the development of the climate over time.
One of the places scientists go to help understand the climate of past ages is the ocean, specifically the ocean bottom. They collect samples and study them for levels of a variety of different elements including calcium, strontium, magnesium, lithium, barium, and several more. These can give a snapshot of the past, giving scientists an idea of how much carbon is present in the ocean, the rate at which the crust is breaking down and more. However, these results might have been skewed because they left out contributions of groundwater.
Some scientists have brought up the idea that groundwater might be contributing these elements to the ocean but those concerns have typically been dismissed as insignificant. That, however, has changed with a new study by Kimberley Mayfield. The University of California doctoral candidate did her thesis on the subject. She built a library of hundreds of groundwater samples by begging them off of anyone she could. While still preliminary, that study shows that a surprising amount of the above elements are getting into the ocean from the groundwater when it leaches out into the rivers.
This is also important for the climate in other ways as these elements also contribute to the growth of phytoplankton near the mouths of rivers. Phytoplankton are tiny little critters that form the basis of significant parts of the food chain. When there are more of them, it can help fuel populations of other species of marine life. However, if other factors are depressing the fish population, the plankton can grow out of control and wind up using other resources and wind up choking out other life.
No doubt Mayfield’s study will help drive other work that will improve our understanding of the ocean and its effect on the climate. It’s also a good illustration of the TARTLE model at work. No, she didn’t use TARTLE but what she did is use a system that isn’t very different. In getting groundwater samples from many different people in many different walks of life, she unknowingly adopted a very TARTLE-like process. She solicited data straight from the source and used it to draw her conclusions.
Future researchers can do the same through TARTLE’s digital marketplace. What’s more, it would be possible to conduct research into what is going into the groundwater. By asking users to share data on how much bleach, detergent, and other household items they use, scientists could get a solid picture of how much of all of that is getting into the groundwater. That information could then be combined with data from groundwater samples. If the process is repeated for several regions it would be possible to see clearly how much environmental impact one person has based on his daily habits. We would actually be able to develop a more accurate climate model using information that covers every stage from the manufacturing of various products, to those products being used, to the groundwater and out into the ocean. This kind of analysis has become possible only recently but it will be sure to be invaluable in the near future. That’s the kind of thing TARTLE makes possible, we open up the opportunity for average people to contribute to the greater understanding of the world we live in and how we affect it.
What’s your data worth?