Thursday, 5 May 2011

The current state of affairs

Today’s society centers itself around industrial growth, capital gain and consumerism with little regard to for the environment. It is of paramount importance that people are made aware that the effects of freshwater scarcity will not only cripple agricultural and industrial development, but more importantly it will have a profound and lasting effect on ecosystems and their dependent species.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (ICUN) Red List of Threatened species in 2004, a total of fifteen thousand five hundred and eighty-nine species of plants and animals run the risk of extinction as a result of as a result of their micro environments being destroyed, many as a result of water pollution or rivers running dry.

Although the human race places itself as a superior species, it is vital that we start to view ourselves as an integral part of the ecosystems that we are destroying so that we realise the harm we are in turn doing to ourselves.  Sound ecosystems ensure a balance between communities of species as well as maintaining a rich biodiversity, which plays a fundamental role in maintaining our well-being. Our meals, health and livelihoods depend on biodiversity.  It is responsible for the diversity of food resources, medicinal herbs, water- consuming industries and to some extent the tourism industry.  It is therefore in our best interest to preserve these delicate ecosystems from both an ethical, social and economical point of view.  The European Union estimated in 2010 that the value of goods and services provided by ecosystems stood at over 26 billion euros per year, nearly twice that of human beings.

Although global warming has been a controversial topic in scientific discourse over the last three decades, most scientist concur that climate change is in fact occurring.  However, the effect that it will have on Earth’s water supply remains unknown.  It is predicted that the rise in global temperatures will accelerate the melting of winter snowpacks, which will reduce water supplies to farms and cities during the summer months when the demand is high.  The shift in weather patterns may also mean that rainfall is distributed to other areas causing densely populated areas to become water stress.  Warmer air temperatures will allow the atmosphere to hold a greater volume of water, which means that less water will be held as ground or surface water further decreasing accessibility to water.

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