It would seem that most of the world suffered from an elevated rainfall quota in April, we certainly did in the Cayman Islands!
Yet, this is against a backdrop of hose-pipe bans in the UK and increasing concerns from the scientific community regarding fresh water availability. As ever with the climate change debate, Mother Nature likes to provide the occasional curve ball, shrouding the entire issue in a mist of juxtapositions.
National Geographic’s freshwater initiative is a global effort that helps put a perspective on this hot topic, with and emphasis on how we can all make a difference (however small). The water debate is fuelled by two main components.
As farming production increases to support the ever-increasing global population, for subsistence and materials such as cotton, rivers are starting to feel the pressure. Important rivers such as the Rio Grande in America and the Murray in Australia are running dry as their precious water flow is diverted for agricultural use.
Increased water temperatures due to climate change can interrupt precipitation patterns (rain!), interrupting the regular flow of fresh water, which is used for agriculture, industry and drinking.
Scientists are also concerned about the potential of elevated sea levels and the impact this will have on the underground water systems. These systems provide the majority of our fresh water and all complete their subterranean journey at the coast, where the land meets the sea.
The reason this is a major concern? Well, in short, it is unknown as to how much of our fresh water gets to us! The underground systems remain a mystery.
If the sea levels rise, salt water could penetrate the fresh water systems, changing the salt levels and therefore use-ability of the fresh water (results are taken from an Ohio State study by Motomu Ibaraki).
What is clear is that the pressure on fresh water is not just a climate change issue. Therefore, conservation of water can help to reduce this issue with almost immediate results.
Conserving water is therefore not just about turning off the tap when brushing your teeth. Only an estimated 5% of our water usage is from personal use (National Geographic). The other 95% comes from our food sources, clothing choices and energy we use.
Buying recycled paper is a great way to save water usage, in fact, using recycling where possible is recommended. Reducing the amount of ‘stuff and things’ we think we need, can also help!