Worldwide Implications of Water Shortages

Water Shortages pic

Water Shortages
Image: un.org

With ten years’ experience managing agriculture-oriented mutual funds in Sydney, Australia, Tim Hornibrook is highly knowledgeable about worldwide trends. One of Tim Hornibrook’s areas of concern includes the impact of present and future water shortages.

The United Nations has stated that over the next two decades, demand for fresh water will outpace reliably distributed supplies. Shortages already exist in about 40 percent of the planet. River sources such as the Ganges, Nile, and Yangtze have slowed to a trickle, and some lakes have disappeared almost entirely. In some areas, water is expensive–its heaviness makes transport costly. Urban areas of many developing nations (and some more advanced ones) must import their water, as well as key goods and services. These cities must also bring in food.

But major water usage doesn’t only come from consumers. 70 percent of the world’s available water goes to food production. The water used in production is known as “virtual water.” As the population increases, this demand will only increase; by 2050, it will be 70 to 100 percent higher than the current demand. Compared to water usage for drinking and sanitation, this unseen demand goes unnoticed by the public. Though humans drink about two or three liters of water, each one accounts for some 3,000 liters used in producing food and fiber. The demand for “virtual water” will rise as cities grow. Since the Earth’s supply of fresh water has steadily shrunk and will continue to decrease, further strains on personal economies appear certain.

Increased Water Scarcity as Urban Areas Expand

Based in Sydney, Australia, Tim Hornibrook is a accomplished financial executive . Tim Hornibrook has extensive experience in agricultural investment and has a particular interest in water as a resource.

The forecast from the United Nations regarding water resources is grim, with the demand for fresh water expected to far outstrip supply over the next two decades. With water scarcity already affecting some 40 percent of humans around the globe, urbanization and population growth are exacerbating the situation.

Water is a local resource that is expensive to transport. The drying up of rivers such as the Yangtze, the Ganges, and the Nile, and the shrinking of such larger bodies of water as the Aral Sea pose an immediate problem. In a number of population centers in the developing and developed world, the problem is so acute that water transfer alternatives are being explored. Food that was once produced regionally, using local water resources, must now be imported because of the lack of water for irrigation. This has a number of economic repercussions and impacts the way the agricultural industry is organized.