Are the Water Wars Going to Be an Actual Thing?

Out of the many resources that sustain life, water is among the most precious and important. Anytime we look to space or another planet, we are always on the lookout for water or signs of it. 

Earth is covered with this resource, so it comes as a surprise to many that we are approaching a crisis state. Estimates say that if we keep consuming it at our current rate, then the Earth will run out of fresh water by 2040. That’s less than sixteen years from now. 

These days, people love making memes about things, and the “Water Wars of 2050” meme makes it seem that wars might be fought over this resource. When you consider that conflicts have happened over other resources, is it really that unrealistic? 

Today, let’s explore how serious the situation really is. 

How Bad Are Things?

At the moment, anywhere from two to three billion people experience water shortages. It’s not that they don’t have water at all, but out of every year, they experience a month of water shortages, according to UNESCO. 

Meanwhile, UNICEF reports that by 2030, about 700 million people could be displaced by intense water scarcity. These statistics are shocking, but like most crises, it’s the developing countries that will be hit hardest first. That said, a water crisis seems to be coming for everyone at some point. It’s just a matter of time. 

Have you heard of Michael Burry? He’s the man who predicted and bet on the subprime mortgage crisis that caused the 2007 recession. People ridiculed Burry for betting against the housing market, believing that he was insane. However, we all know how that turned out. Burry is now investing in water, betting that a water crisis is coming. 

This is not an optimistic sign.

Challenges That Need Overcoming

Some believe that the world has enough freshwater that a crisis should never actually occur. While technically true, they fail to take into account that water isn’t evenly distributed. The places with an abundance of freshwater are far from the places that are likely to have shortages. 

It’s going to be a logistics problem to move freshwater in the quantities that make a difference. Similarly, desalination efforts are another aspect that needs to be accelerated. Right now, desalination takes a lot of power and is particularly expensive, especially for irrigation. 

These days, more than the power concern, it’s the logistics again that make it difficult. You have to pump the water away from the coast to wherever the plant is. Once you desalinate the water, you have to get rid of the massive amounts of brine created during the desalination process. This is besides the fact that you have to pump the clean water, which would be close to the coast. 

In other words, desalination technically works, but to combat a water crisis in terms of global proportions, we will need to find better methods, like water harvesting

As Atoco states, atmospheric water harvesting can be achieved with certain novel reticular materials. The technology takes advantage of reticular chemistry in order to track the sequence and behavior of water molecules during adsorption into a proprietary, novel material. 

This allows water to be captured straight out of the atmosphere. Identifying and pursuing multiple solutions like these is the need of the hour.

What Happens If We Fail? 

Well, the possibility of massive drought and famine is obvious. This could lead to more migration from drought-hit locations. We already see several countries fed up with mass immigration, and things can get ugly if a water crisis worsens the situation. 

At the same time, it’s wise to remember that no matter what the headlines say, the world won’t ever run out of water. This isn’t a resource like coal that, once burned, is depleted. No, water evaporates, and it will come back down to earth. It’s just a question of where. 

Thus, a water crisis is always going to be a local issue. If we keep mismanaging things, areas with shortages are going to get worse. However, that doesn’t mean the water has disappeared, it’s simply moved elsewhere. 

If logistics and the politics involved in moving water between countries weren’t a problem, this wouldn’t be as big a problem as it seems. Unfortunately, the most likely scenario if efforts aren’t made to find some solution is a lot of suffering

In conclusion, the water crisis is a serious problem, but also one that is misunderstood by many. Irrigation and animal agriculture end up being the biggest consumers of water. At the same time, it’s important to note that nature isn’t going to bend to human will. 
It is we who need to adapt to nature or face the consequences. Remember, the world can easily balance itself, but it often means a lot of temporary chaos, which we’d rather avoid.

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