THE THREAT OF WATER SCARCITY ON AGRICULTURE

LESS THAN THREE PERCENT

A majority of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, with approximately 70% of the Earth comprised of water. Of all the water on Earth, over 97% is saltwater, leaving only 2.5% as freshwater. To make matters even worse, over 68% of freshwater is frozen in icecaps and glaciers, over 31% is found in ground water, and only 0.3% is found in surface water1. This means more than 99% of the Earth’s water is unusable by most living organisms!

THE REALITY OF WATER SCARCITY

With over 7 billion people in the world and the population increasing rapidly, access to safe, clean water has never been more crucial. The world’s water use has been growing at twice the rate of the population2, thus depleting the already limited sources of usable freshwater. According to the Global Water Institute, around 700 million people suffer from water scarcity today, and this number is predicted to double by 20253.  So while our continents may be surrounded by water, sustainable practices and water conservation have never been more important to combat the very real threat of water scarcity.

WATER AND AGRICULTURE

Water scarcity is usually associated with limited drinking water, but the global water crisis effects so much more.

Water is needed for virtually everything humans produce. Products that require water range everywhere from hamburgers to smartphones. Agriculture is a major industry effected by water scarcity, because the agricultural industry is the greatest user of water. Agriculture leads the way in terms of freshwater withdrawals, accounting for 70% of all withdraws4. It takes a lot of water to feed the world, so water scarcity is a real threat to global food production.

FOOD INSECURITY

Water is the greatest limiting factor when it comes to feeding the rapidly growing world population, meaning water scarcity has a critical impact on food security. Food security is the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food5. World hunger is a long lived issue, and water scarcity is only expanding the problem. It takes roughly one liter of water to produce one calorie, which means an adequate diet requires about 2,000 liters of water to feed one person every day. Research conducted by John Hopkins University indicates if the current water management practices remain unchanged, the global agriculture sector will require double the amount of water to feed the world in 20256. With a limited source of freshwater and an increased demand for food production, the need for sustainable water practices has never been greater.

WHERE TOMORROW GETS ITS WATER

MECO works to develop both effective and sustainable water purification systems, because the ability to test and treat water for all uses, not just consumption, is crucial. Without proper tests and treatments, an area’s inhabitants or farming industries risk consuming or using polluted water sources.

Sustainable water practices can be exercised on an individual level, but they should be prioritized on the industrial front as well. MECO has been 100% dedicated to providing sustainable water purification technologies for 90 years and counting. It’s more than a commitment to us, it’s a mindset and everything we do. Our innovative technologies make water accessible now and for years to come.

 

 

 

 

References:

  1. “Earth’s Freshwater.” National Geographic, 12 November 2012, https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/earths-fresh-water/
  2. “Land & Water.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/land-water/water/water-scarcity/en/
  3. “Future Water (In) Security: Facts, Figures, and Prediction.” Global Water Institute, 2013, https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/27b53d18-6069-45f7-a1bd-d5a48bc80322/downloads/1c2meuvon_105010.pdf
  4. “0.7% is All We Have to Grow All Our Food.” Uncharted Waters, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/unchartedwaters/
  5. “Food Security.” International Food Policy Research Institute, http://www.ifpri.org/topic/food-security
  6. “Agriculture – Meeting the Water Challenge.” John Hopkins, 25 July 2010, http://water.jhu.edu/index.php/magazine/agriculturemeeting-the-water-challenge