A new study shows that we’ll be suffering a global water shortage by 2040 if we continue down the path we’re currently on.
According to a press release on Eureka Alert the study, conducted over the course of three years, shows that our energy consumption and population growth are already putting such a strain on the world’s water supplies that by 2020, some areas of the world won’t have any access to clean drinking water anymore.
The main problem, and the one that’s easiest to change, is electricity. One of the study’s authors, Professor Benjamin Sovacool from Aarhus University in Denmark, said:
“It’s a huge problem that the electricity sector do not even realise how much water they actually consume. And together with the fact that we do not have unlimited water resources, it could lead to a serious crisis if nobody acts on it soon.
If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage – even if water was free, because it’s not a matter of the price. There will no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we’re doing today. There’s no time to waste. We need to act now.”
Both “clean” coal and biofuel use tremendous amounts of water, and yet, we keep pushing these as known, reliable technologies for energy production over and above things like solar cells and wind power, along with fracking and other fossil fuels. National Geographic reported on another study saying that water consumption for energy production is expected to double by the year 2035.
Most of that is because of coal-fired plants and biofuel production. Fracking also uses a lot of water, but National Geographic reports that it will likely have a much smaller impact on the water supply than coal and biofuel production.
So how do we solve that problem? The study’s authors listed several things that we can do in their release:
- Improve energy efficiency
- Better research on alternative cooling cycles
- Registering how much water power plants use
- Massive investments in wind energy
- Massive investments in solar energy
- Abandon fossil fuel facilities in all water stressed places (which means half the planet)
Of course, here in the U.S., that will take a tremendous shift of awareness for our population. We tend to ignore the fact that worldwide resource problems might actually affect us, too. If we’re likely to face water shortages on this scale, we’re also likely to eventually face war with other powerful countries over the dwindling water supply, as each country starts fighting ever harder to protect its citizens and its interests.
It’s time to stop playing politics with energy production and consumption, and start putting policies into place that favor energy production that’s less water-intensive. We need to start working on this now. Not in 10 years, not in 20 years, not even in five years. Now.
Or this prediction will become reality.
h/t: Eureka Alert