It may surprise you that most water is not used for drinking or even industrial purposes. Seventy-five percent of water use worldwide is for farming. Growing grains, and especially raising beef, requires enormous amounts of water.
As the standards of living improve for many people in the world, the problems of water supply multiply. Africans and Asian for, half a millennia, subsisted on vegetarian diets of grain or rice. As living conditions improve, a desirable trend, many of these people have started eating more meat. Many rural people have moved to cities. And city dwellers use more water than rural populations.
Some other things to consider: Increasingly, scientists are concerned with global warming. The speeding up of the rate at which water evaporates, results in droughts in many areas of the earth.
Okay, you say. We'll eat less meat and more fish. Great idea, a much more healthful diet. But the freshwater fish populations are declining. Some 30 percent since 1970.
Has the time come to panic? Well, not yet. But neither can we continue to dawdle much longer. Many parts of the world are experiencing water shortages – Australia, South Korea, Brazil, and South Africa. Here in this country, California has declared several states of emergency. And several times, has spoken of the possibility of water rationing.
What's to be done? Do we just stand by and face the possibility that in another century life on this planet may not sustainable? Experts tell us there are things to be done. Most important is to increase the efficiency with which water is used.
This will require arm-twisting and concerted action by all the nations of the world. Education is very important. Some industries have already figured how to use less water in production. Agreements and understandings will have to be reached about more equitable and intelligent uses of water supply the world over. We’ll need to learn more about recycling. And storing water in rainy seasons for use at other times.
Most important, agricultural research and farmer education. There's also a need for substantial irrigation practices. What bothers me most is that we tend to delay seeking solutions to problems until they reach crisis proportions. If we don't soon begin to address the problems of water supply, we'll be bequeathing a disaster to future generation.