How clean water is linked with environmental and human health
Recently, California experienced its most significant persistent drought period. The occurrence threatened the agricultural industry and human health. Unfortunately, water scarcity is a rising global issue.
Water conservation is essential to humanity’s and the global ecosystem’s longevity. Environmental scientists and engineers developed methods of extraction and filtration, limiting the exploitation of natural resources. Before evaluating the water scarcity solutions, we must examine the origin of the problem.
Ocean: What are ‘dead zones’ and why are they getting worse?
When you hear the phrase “dead zone” you likely think of a desolate area that’s barren of any cellular signals — but there are actually parts of the world called “dead zones” that are much more terrifying. Located in bodies of waters, dead zones occur when oxygen levels drop so low, that marine life is unable to survive. And although dead zones have been around for millions of years, a study conducted by UC Santa Cruz researchers shows they’ve gotten increasingly worse.
“It is essential to understand whether climate change is pushing the oceans toward a ‘tipping point’ for abrupt and severe hypoxia that would destroy ecosystems, food sources, and economies,” one of the authors of the study, Karla Knudson, said in a statement.
Gas Pipelines: Harming Clean Water, People, and the Planet
Oil and gas pipelines crisscross the United States, and new ones are still being built. It would take volumes to document all the dangers they pose to people, nature, and the planet, but here’s a start: greenhouse gas emissions, violations of indigenous treaty rights and sovereignty, destruction of endangered species habitat, taking of private property without public benefit, contamination of drinking water sources and streams and rivers, ruination of farms and landscapes, deaths and injuries from explosions, damage to wild ecosystems, and environmental injustice.
The International Energy Agency has called for an immediate end to new investments in fossil fuel pipelines. With all the cleaner alternatives available, the only benefit of new pipelines is to increase the corporate profits of pipeline owners. Yet while the potential for harm is well known, government agencies keep rubber-stamping permits.
Humanity’s challenge of the century: Conserving Earth’s freshwater systems
The challenge from here on is to avoid water wars while preemptively, cooperatively and aggressively addressing a growing global population’s water security. It can be done, but we must do it now.
- Many dryland cities like Los Angeles, Cairo and Tehran have already outstripped natural water recharge, but are expected to continue growing, resulting in a deepening arid urban water crisis.
- According to NASA’s GRACE mission, 19 key freshwater basins, including several in the U.S., are being unsustainably depleted, with some near collapse; much of the water is used indiscriminately by industrial agribusiness.
- Many desert cities, including Tripoli, Phoenix and Los Angeles, are sustained by water brought from other basins by hydro megaprojects that are aging and susceptible to collapse, while the desalination plants that water Persian Gulf cities come at a high economic cost with serious salt pollution.
- Experts say that thinking about the problem as one of supply disguises the real issue, given that what’s really missing to heading off a global freshwater crisis is the organization, capital, governance and political will to address the problems that come with regulating use of a renewable, but finite, resource.
How water poverty impacts public health in the US
On August 3, 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) recognized access to clean water and sanitation as a human right alongside other fundamental rights, such as life and liberty, freedom of expression, and education.
According to the UN:
“Lack of access to safe, sufficient, and affordable water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity, and prosperity of billions of people and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights.”
Water Stress: A Global Problem That’s Getting Worse
Billions of people around the world lack adequate access to one of the essential elements of life: clean water. Although governments and aid groups have helped many living in water-stressed regions gain access in recent years, the problem is projected to get worse with the harmful effects of global warming and population growth.
Water stress can differ dramatically from one place to another, in some cases causing wide-reaching damage, including to public health, economic development, and global trade. It can also drive mass migrations and spark conflict. Now, pressure is mounting on countries to implement more sustainable and innovative practices and to improve international cooperation on water management.
‘Ocean in crisis’: Global plan to protect world’s seas
A new global marine initiative has been launched to protect and conserve 18 million square kilometres of the ocean (seven million square miles) over the next five years, an area larger than the continent of South America.
The collaboration, known as Blue Nature Alliance, established on Wednesday is led by several philanthropic organisations and plans to work with national governments, local communities, Indigenous peoples, scientists, and academics.The Alliance’s initial protection work will cover 4.8 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) across three marine locations: Fiji’s Lau Seascape, Antarctica’s Southern Ocean and the volcanic archipelago of Tristan da Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
The U.S. Water and Wastewater Crisis – How Many Wake-up Calls Are Enough?
In February, much of Texas plunged into darkness when the state’s electricity grid failed due to extreme cold weather conditions. What started as a foreseeable blackout quickly became a life-threatening calamity. The frigid temperatures cracked pipes and froze wells. To escape the frigid cold, have drinking water, and flush toilets, Texans were forced to boil snow and icicles. The extreme weather conditions and lack of basic amenities resulted in several fatal cases of hypothermia, frostbite, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
More than 14 million people in Texas were affected, and lost access to clean water at the height of the crisis. At the beginning of March, there were still nearly 390,000 people who did not have water safe enough to drink in their homes
The real value of water
Valuing Water is the theme of the 29th World Water Day this year. Valuing Water and Enabling Change also happened to be the theme of the Annual Report of the World Economic Forum’s 2030 Water Resources Group (now hosted by the World Bank) last year.
Clearly, no one who ever had to go without a glass of water for a few hours on a hot summer day needs to be told how invaluable water is. In fact, we all know that water is essential for life itself. There is the truism water is life! So, why this emphasis on “valuing” water?