Water. Without it there is no life. To put it simply the amount of water in the world is finite as the number of earthlings is growing rapidly and our water use is growing even much faster. The alarming extent of water scarcity across the world does not seem to worry too many politicians as yet. The United Nations says seven billion people now live on earth, and we are on our way to about nine billion by 2050. Not only will there be more mouths to feed but a growing number also want meat which means that the need for more grain production will have to increase as well. Forecasts are that food production will have to increase 70 percent by 2050. Where will the water come from?
The poor and the vulnerable are the ones who will suffer most. Water shortages mean long walks to procure water, high prices to purchase it when not available, food insecurity and diseases from drinking contaminated water. Water privatization is also on the increase, aided and abated by both the IMF and the World Bank.
It is time to admit climate change is real and to unleash human innovation to develop responses that are practical and affordable. No matter what the cause (though informed minds do know), there is a warming trend and a hotter climate is a more volatile one. If the cause is greenhouse gas, there is already so much carbon in the atmosphere that warming is irreversible for the next 1,000 years.
Rapidly slashing fossil fuel use is not possible without critically injuring the world economies (particularly those of China, India and surging nations like Brazil etc). While we should make progress toward more efficient mass transit and electric cars, and build more wind turbines, solar power and master tidal movements, those advances are swamped by the rising energy needs of people in the developing world who aspire to a lifestyle similar to that in the developed world. Add a lethargic body politic and we’re in for a world of pain, to paraphrase a well known film quote.
Adaptation must be the priority and the most critical adaptation will be to raise food production in an increasingly volatile climate. More to come in the coming weeks.