The approaching crisis: Is the world running out of water?
Water is absolutely fundamental to life, which makes the increasingly loud warnings about water scarcity and an impending global water crisis so concerning for world leaders.
“What’s happening bit by bit is that water scarcity is becoming increasingly common all around the world, no matter where you look as country after country hits the limit of what it can use,” says Professor Mike Young.
“Whether that’s in Australia, California, China, India, Pakistan, or right throughout Africa.” Cities across the world are becoming increasingly thirsty as the demand for water grows and supply dwindles.
In the end, less than one per cent of the planet’s water is actually available to fuel and feed the world’s 7.5 billion people.
This month the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that by 2050 global demand for fresh water is projected to grow by more than 40 per cent and at least a quarter of the world’s population will live in countries with a “chronic or recurrent” lack of clean water.
The resource has become a popular commodity for investors who are looking to profit from the growing value of water.
“There’s a change in attitude as farmers start to realise these problems have to be resolved.” According to him an appropriate management system for countries sharing access to water would mean “water rights are defined as shares not guaranteed entitlements, and every person is given a water account that looks just like a bank account.
“Australia has one of the best water sharing systems in the world, particularly as a result of the reforms made in the last 20 years in Australia where we’ve redefined our water rights as shares,” Prof Young said.
Desalination and recycled water are playing an increased role in meeting our water needs in Australia.
“As a general rule, growing crops using desalination, it doesn’t pay,” Prof Young said.