Water Crisis Ends! Summing Up What Happened...

Well, our extended coverage of Peak Water ends, anyway. The water crisis itself is, unfortunately, still a very real issue. This month we've explored many of the complexities and interconnections of fresh water, and our growing shortage of supplies globally. Water is a precious resource we simultaneously exalt and abuse; and from wars to art, from conservation to making your own, we pondered what our relationship to water is all about. Here's a look at the politics, innovation, beauty, and danger lying just beneath the surface.

Fresh Water Supplies Growing Short, Along with Tempers

Global sea levels are rising along with global temperatures. And while ideas for extraordinary inventions like shading glaciers from the sun are being bounced around, the reality is a future of "water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink." or at least in some places.

drought and shed photo

Photo via beleobus via Flickr CC

In others, drought is the big issue coming forward with global warming, requiring us to rethink how we process and consume water. Steps including everything from tearing out water-wasting lawns as part of the "dry movement" and considering more conservative landscaping, to major efforts in monitoring and managing water and dry ecosystems are part of big picture solutions to stave off drought and its health impacts.

Water wars are not a thing of a dire as-seen-on-TV future - they're already happening, especially in places like India where there is a growing population and growing consumption right alongside shrinking resources. But there could be potential for peaceful resolutions despite the inclination to battle over limited resources.

What Everyone Needs to Know About Fresh Water

So if water is scarce in places like India, just where else is water a big concern? We looked at some frighteningly large water footprints of various countries, which highlights overconsumption and privilege around a resource that will soon be more prized than oil. It's not hard to see that while some places are going with out, others are acting like there's no end.

cracked ground and house photo

Photo via crowt59 via Flickr CC

So what do we need to learn about water so that we can keep it around for awhile?

First is an awareness of how much water we use to produce various products. We rarely stop to think that it takes water - often a lot of it - to make everything from electronics to a pair of jeans.

We also need to know how much water goes into the food we eat. Because a huge chunk of the water we consume is embodied in our food, we need to know the water footprint of everything from beef to lettuce so that we can make water savvy dining choices.

And finally we need to know where we can cut back on water consumption, which can often be in surprising places.

Learning more about water issues is vital to the conservation effort, and that's why activists are making some stellar documentaries on fresh water. We need to be aware of everything from how water gets polluted to how we might make more when we run out, both on a large scale and at home with home water makers.

car in river photo

Photo via mikecogh via Flickr CC

Water is Filthy and Beautiful

Over the last month we also took a look, literally, at water. Seeing the horrifying pollution happening in many rivers and lakes, as well as the unparalleled beauty of water proves there's a reason why artists find it an obvious subject to study. There's nothing like witnessing the grandeur of giant waterfalls to make one appreciate the role water plays in our lives.

Keeping Water is Tricky - Trying to Carry and Contain Water

A problem with water, even when we have it, is how to transport it. We've had some very clever inventions over the years to get water from one place to another. And we're also dealing with the prevalence of a really dumb way to transport it; plastic bottles, as we well know, are a big problem. Even those touting they're green prove to be ridiculously dangerous to the environment. Luckily, we're seeing an upsurge in greener ways to carry and consume water, and still show a little personality.

While these seem like small steps compared to the bigger problem, it's all part of a connected chain in how we view water, our awareness of our use and consequences of abuse of what is a resource nothing can live without.

To stay updated on fresh water issues, keep checking our Peak Water feature page, where all water crisis-related content on TreeHugger appears in one handy spot.

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