The World Economic Forum predicts that the gap between freshwater demand and supply will be about 40% globally by 2030 if ‘business as usual’ continues (this is typical climate change lingo for: we do absolutely nothing).
According to the World Bank, 80 countries currently have water shortages that threaten human health and economic activities.
This sort of fundamental imbalance quickly causes conflict, especially in global Southern regions where regulation lacks or regime presides. We can already see global security organizations mobilising in response to this issue. At the September 2014 NATO gathering in Cardiff, we saw Climate Change at the top of the agenda.
"Key environmental and resource constraints, including health risks, climate change, water scarcity, and increasing energy needs will further shape the future security environment in areas of concern to NATO and have the potential to significantly affect NATO planning and operations."
Only 1% of the Earth's water is accessible for humans. And as population increases, the amount of mouths to feed and water grows. It is also alarming to know that 70% of the world’s freshwater is used in agriculture, taking much of this small amount available from watering those who need it and using it to feed those in developed nations - and their cows.
use in foods
So how much water do we actually use? How can you conceptualise how much water your decisions and actions accounts for?
A remarkably small amount of our daily usage comes from running the shower or drinking from the tap. While average household water use in the UK is around 150 litres per person per day, UK consumption of products from other countries means that each English citizen effectively soaks up a staggering 4,645 litres of the world’s water every day.
So once again, your consumer habits play a massive role in conscientious living. Buying certain foods which are high in water use throughout their production (yep - red meat isn't great) and selecting products from areas that are not suffering great water scarcity will help lower your water footprint.
The answer, as ever, is try to be more aware. You can use this fantastic guide by National Geographic to get a sense of where water is used most intensively in food production.
What Can we do?
Go vegetarian keeping live stock globally uses nearly 1/3 of fresh water.
Buy less stuff it takes water to make everything.
Be aware of your impact, don't be a drip.
Learn to save using top tips.
Here's a video which may effect the way you think about water, and if all else fails, it has a choisty soundtrack for your enjoyment.