Monday, 2 May 2011

Introduction


Water is arguably planet earth’s most precious commodity.  Without it, life on Earth will cease to exist.  However, in the last century, numerous factors have led to Earth’s freshwater supply being stressed and exploited by the human race.  As a result, scientists have warned that a global water crisis is looming in the twenty-first century that will impact all living things.  In this essay I will examine this environmental issue by identifying the key causes, looking at the effect it is having on the environment as well as possible solutions and their potential effectiveness.  I will begin by discussing the issue of freshwater sustainability on a global scale, before examining the problem on a local level.

Because water is such an essential component of life on Earth one would assume that it would be highly prioritized in conservation efforts.  However, it appears that modern society has taken a passive approach in its attempts to look after this natural resource.   It is thought that the sheer enormity of the resource itself has misled people to believe that Earth’s water supply is limitless, due to the fact that water accounts for 71% of the Earth’s surface.  Of this, however, 97% of water is held in oceans leaving only 3% available as freshwater, of which a further 2% is locked up in icecaps and glaciers.  This leaves a meager 0.8% of all water on Earth available for human consumption.  It is also important to note that the hydrosphere is a closed system, meaning that it neither gains nor loses water during its cycle. However water is only accessible in three stages of this cycle: as rain water, ground water and surface water. (Gorbache, M, 2000)

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