Here’s a hot tip for any region that wants more economic prosperity and job security over the next century: invest in water.
Water is in high and ever-increasing demand. Despite what one might think from the way we use it, fresh water is not in infinite supply. While most of the planet is covered in water, only about one percent is fresh and accessible. In fact, water shortages are increasing, with about 20 percent of the human population already living in areas with water scarcity. By 2025, that number could reach as much as 60 percent.
World Water Day, as celebrated today, is a blip on the radar: a reminder to pause and think about something we literally take for granted every day. We are facing a global water crisis and we need to do something about it.
When we look at the world’s water use versus water supply, the numbers don’t add up. In the last century, water use has been growing at twice the rate of human population growth. We can’t ignore this statistic or its consequences. Our irresponsible use of water directly impacts human lives and livelihoods (droughts and famines), the environment (loss of species and ecosystems), and the economy.
The potential economic impacts of water shortage are clear when looking at how we use water. Of all the fresh water people use, about 70 percent is used to produce food, industry uses another 20 percent, and the rest is used for direct consumption. About 52 billion cubic meters of water are used annually for global energy production. Water is an essential ingredient in manufacturing, energy and food. When the well dries up, industry can no longer operate at even the most basic level.