Written by Mauragh Scott.
Edited by Vitoria Jones.
With water covering 70% of the planet, it seems like water would be permanently renewable. Especially in the UK, water is something that most of us take for granted, particularly on the rainy days. In fact, we wish it away. However, water’s reliability is already decreasing across the globe and will continue to decrease in the near future due to human-created climate change. The impacts of climate change are already deeply affecting the everyday world, as scientists have stated that the current CO2 levels in the atmosphere are not safe, and this danger will continue to be more and more of a threat thanks to our obsessive need to burn fossil fuels. Most people understand that climate change will cause more drastic changes in the weather, but water scarcity is often overlooked.
The increase in water droughts across the globe is getting worse and worse. Currently 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and it is estimated that two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2025. There is an abundance of real-life examples pointing to this, from India’s biggest reservoir disappearing last summer to the historically ranked largest lake in Africa, Lake Chad, drying up – both causing huge numbers of casualties. Global geopolitics also play a factor in this issue and an example of that is the India-Pakistan water dispute over the Indus river; a conflict which will only become increasingly dangerous. It is no surprise that the UN has called the worldwide water crisis a ‘silent emergency’. Although it remains uncertain for how long this emergency will stay silent in the West.
However, the global water shortages have already started to show effects – albeit small – in the UK as well. With May 2020 being the driest month on record in the UK, and with scientists arguing that this issue will get worse, this is not an issue we can run away from anymore. As we have seen with Covid-19, unsustainable human interactions with our planet affect every corner of this world. One can hope that the UK Government will be quick to act on the world’s water crisis, and even help others around the world that do not have the advantages that we do. But, as scary as all of this sounds, not all hope is lost.
Climate change is a human-made phenomenon and it can be fixed if we start acting. There has been a series of already remarkable actions around the world when it comes to the issue of water shortages. One of the most prominent examples of this was Cape Town ‘Day Zero’ on May 11th, 2018. This was the date the city was predicted to run out of water. Due to climate change, Cape Town faced a multiple-year drought, and with community teamwork, this city managed to push back this date to 2019, and eventually to the unforeseeable future as the drought stopped. This was achieved with each person limiting their use of water to 50 litres per day, with the government patching up leaky pipes, and with new technologies such as water recycling. It may not have completely fixed the problem, but this does show us that solutions, whether big or small, are not impossible. If we can learn from this amazing example of compassion and commitment to each other and the planet, then we will be taking the first step in the right direction.