Knowledge Island IV - Water, On A Global Scale
Worldwide Water Crisis
Water enjoys special respect in all cultures and religions: as symbol of purity, home of gods, eternal life source, precious treasure. Unfortunately, water and other treasures are alike in that he who does not own it will desire it and he who does will not appreciate it. According to the U.N. in 1995, 92% of the world's population still “had sufficient water-supply.“ However, according to prognosis this share will have dropped to 58% by 2050. There will be a rise in the numver of people suffering from “water deficiency “ from 3 to18 per cent, meaning they will have less than an annual 1000 liters of water available-- less than 3 liters per day! Experts fear a battle for water could also trigger war in the future. As it is today, Turkey, Irak, and Syria have quarrelled over the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Water shortage is also an essential factor in the conflict among Israel, its neighbouring states, and the Palestines..
Water And Growth
Efficient water use pays off especially in agriculture: 70 % of global water use is found in farming. Over 40% of global harvest comes from irrigation farming, with 60% of water being lost through inadequate technology. Simple yet efficient irrigation technology, such as drip irrigation may reduce water consumption in agriculture while harvest yield improves. Precious water is being saved so it can form, for example, a drinking water resource.
Water And Large Cities
Large cities continue to grow. On a global scale, a majority of people will live in the city rather than the country soon. By 2030, the city's share in the total population will supposedly reach 60%.This growth will take place in developing countries almost exclusively. Hoping to find better lives, people will move to the city in search for work; however, more often than not hope converts to despair.
In developing countries today, already half the number of urban inhabitants live in uncontrollably growing slums, under catastrophic sanitary conditions. Disease from contaminated water makes for the most common cause of illness and death. Every year, more than two million die from diarrhea. The mosquito, reproducing in standing water, claims the death of a good million people annually. Many get sick because they cannot wash themselves sufficiently or because their food is contaminated.
• 1.2 billion people worldwide- or nearly one in five individuals- have no access to clean drinking water.
• Sewage water of 2.4 billion people goes untreated.
• Each year, about 3.1 million die of disease inflicted by contaminated water.
• 80 % of all illness in developing countries stems from contaminated water.
Lake Aral's original extension versus today's
Lake Aral as an example
Lake Aral has entered history as the worst human-made ecological disaster.
Once the largest continental lake, it has now lost more than half of its expanse during only one generation. What is left are two toxic puddles with no signs of life, with a new salt desert being born, 500 kilometers wide and ever expanding. An entire region has been ecologically destroyed with inhabitants losing their livelihood. Many have fled, those left behind are stricken by poverty and disease.
Through the border territories of former Soviet republics Kasachstan, Usbekistan and Turkmenistan there used to flow the rivers Amu-Darja and Syr-Darja, two streams the size of the Rhine river. Once they feed lake Aral, an inland sea the size of Bavaria.
Disaster struck when the Soviet government decided to grow large cotton fields and rice plantations utilizing river water for irrigation. Since then, hardly a drop of water has reached the river mounds. As a result, Lake Aral has almost shrunk by half. Ships from the fishing fleet are rusting in the former harbors, dozens of kilometers away from the present shore. The lake's salt content has risen so much that there is no life in this lake where fish used to be abound. Since this massive water expanse no longer provides any temperature balance, also climate has changed. Citizens flee the cities. Disease and death caused by the environment has increased dramatically. An entire region is dying