As we live “climate change” access to clean water will continue to be a serious problem not only in developing countries but also in developed ones. Fresh wateraccounts for only about 3% of all the water on the globe and access to clean, uncontaminated drinking water is unavailable to almost 1/6th of the world’s population. In addition, 2.5 billion people have nowhere safe and clean to go to the toilet. Share that fact with the kids in your lives! As a result, 2,000 children die every day from easily prevented diarrheal diseases with countless more unable to attend school. Millions of women are unable to work because they spend so much time collecting water.
Climate change impacts including changing levels of rainfall, decreasing runoff from glaciers, drought and smaller levels of snow pack are all contributing to making fresh water less available and more of a scarce commodity. In the United States at the end of 2012, 60% of the continental US was experiencing severe drought conditions. Water management and monitoring both for agriculture and drinking water are under serious review. Most developing countries have very low per capita carbon footprints yet they feel the effects of global warming and it’s impacts on clean drinking water most significantly. Global warming has no boundaries. The US produces close to 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions which don’t stay “over the USA” but contribute to climate change the world over.
According to the official UN World Water Site: “Climate change is expected to impact both rain fed and irrigated agriculture, including feed and fodder for livestock, as well as forests and aquaculture. Severe reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharge are expected in the Mediterranean Basin and in the semi-arid areas of the Americas, Australia and Southern Africa, affecting water availability and quality in already stressed regions. High latitude areas will see an increase in their potential, whereas regions near the equator will experience more frequent and severe droughts, excessive rainfall, and floods which can destroy crops and put food production at risk. Populations who live in fragile environments and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods face an immediate and increasing risk of crop failure or loss of livestock.”
In the USA in 2012 252 of 254 counties in Texas experienced wildfires due to drought conditions. Access to peanut butter, a stable for many American kids, was impact as the peanut crop was affected by this drought, with peanut butter prices doubling in some locations around the country. Did you have a hard time finding mistletoe this past holiday? Mistletoe was also impacted by the drought in the American south and west. These are small examples of how climate change can impact each of us. Talk about water with the kids in your life, and think about things that each of us, regardless of age, can do to conserve and recognize this precious resource; a resource that too many of us still take for granted.
Also, while we in the US have many engineers, scientists and water experts working to help us figure out how to manage this scare resource, people in the developing world don’t have access to these same resources. That’s why we need to support organizations like WaterAid and the important work that they do in so many countries.
WaterAid has programs in 27 countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific region and Central America, and offices in the US, the UK, Australia and Sweden. Learn more about WaterAid today and why we should NEVER take access to clean and clear potable water for granted.