Those of you who have read my collection of essays entitled Fifty Years of Global Warming will know that I talk about the modern Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Climate change, over-population, and peak oil. Well, the supply of water is directly tied to the number of people trying to access it. The more people there are, the less water there is to go around. And as Specter tell us, there ain't all that much to go around.
"Nearly all of the earth’s water is in the ocean. Only three per cent is even theoretically available for humans to drink. Most of that is locked in polar ice caps and glaciers, or deeply embedded in layers of rock. If a large bucket were to represent all the seawater on the planet, and a coffee cup the amount of freshwater frozen in glaciers, only a teaspoon would remain for us to drink.The article focuses on India, but the same scenario is playing out in China, as well as in parts of just about every continent. Too many people are chasing after diminishing supplies of water. Solutions such as desalinization or recycling of rain water and industrial waste water all share something in common with solving the problems associated with global warming caused by decades of burning fossil fuels. They require a commitment of money and resources that most governments are unwilling to undertake. More importantly they require large amounts of collective political will power. This runs counter to the politician's instinctive desire to push problems off into the future, usually sometime after the next election.
The earth’s population has increased exponentially in the two hundred years since Thomas Malthus predicted that the demand for food would soon exceed the supply. In fact, the rate of growth has been far more punishing than Malthus could have imagined. The human population more than tripled in the twentieth century alone (and water use grew sixfold). Within the next fifty years, demographers expect the population to grow again by as much as fifty per cent."
I urge anyone concerned with this issue to read the article. Maybe you don't believe the science behind global warming. Maybe you are confident that shale oil will save us from peak oil. But any fool can understand that more and more people mean less and less water to drink. And if you think this is a problem happening somewhere else with consequences that won't affect your or your kids or your grandchildren, then you need to think again.