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Water - Will the World Ever Run out of Water?

Updated on March 3, 2013

The world is made up of 71% water in our oceans and seas.

Water is the staple of life.

We need it to drink, to hydrate, to grow plants (food) in, to bathe.

We are constantly hearing of water shortages now that out population has topped 6 billion people world-wide.

But could the world run out of water?

Perhaps.

But read on to learn a little about water first.

water recycling
water recycling | Source

Desalination plants

With over two thirds of the planet covered with water, we shouldn't go short.

But that two-thirds is made up of undrinkable sea water.

Sea water, as we all know, is salty and the human body cannot cope with it.

Our kidneys cannot excrete the salt quickly enough. If we drank it, we would blow up like balloons before we died of dehydration.

De-salination plants are already a reality.

These massive coastal water-works are already hard at work turning sea-water into drinkable water.

Their biggest drawback is that at present, they are very expensive to run, and not especially adequate.

a desalination plant
a desalination plant | Source

Underground water wells and streams

In very arid parts of the world, boring deep underground has produced water that sits at or near the Earth's mantle.

No doubt there was a huge amount of water underground, but this water is being used up at a fantastic rate, especially in over-populated countries like India.

When it is used up, it is gone.

This water is not the result of rain/soil seepage, but water that has been underground since the last major geological shift, and so is a limited supply.

Some countries in the equatorial rain belt or at certain degrees north or south of the equator seem to suffer from excessive rainfall.

Most of that water goes to waste, by run-off into the sea.

The world's human population is 6 billion

6 billion is a lot of mouths to feed.

It is a lot of bodies to hydrate too.

As humans, we will die of dehydration long before we even notice we are hungry!

It used to be thought that the average human could live 100 days without food, but only 3 or 4 without water.

We are all drinking, we are all peeing (or urinating to be polite) and in actual fact the world's water level does not change.

Why is that?

Where our world's water comes from

Source

The Water Cycle

We have seas, as you know.

As I already stated, 71% of the world is made up of seas.

Out weather is driven by the seas, by the passage of cold water to warm water areas, and vice-versa. Along with the winds, like El Nino or the Gulf Stream. These are high-level winds that pilots use to guide their crafts.

But these winds, and the trade winds, also guide out weather patterns.

They lift moisture from the seas and deposit them on lands (sometimes far-off) in the form of rain.

Yet rain isn't salty. Rainwater is perfectly drinkable.

Nature does that for us.

We expire water when we breathe. It is gaseous but stays on the planet because the magnetic pull of the Earth does not allow it to leave and float off into space.

Our urine and other bodily wastes goes through underground pipes (that we have built) into sanitation plants that cleans it up before returning it to the oceans.

In some places, it goes straight to the oceans without being cleaned up, but the seas are so vast, it causes no harm globally.

The problem lies in areas that do not get rainwater.

The trouble for the world as whole that the arid nations tend to be the poorest nations.

fresh water
fresh water | Source

Arid nations demand their share of the world's fresh water

These are the people who cannot afford to build irrigation systems to make the best use of what rain water they have.

But, somehow or other, these nations are becoming richer, more educated and demanding water.

They look to the richer nations to help them out, while continuing to produce yet more children that they cannot really afford, nor have the water or food to ensure their offspring can actually survive.

This happens in many African nations.

We are over-populated as a whole, but only in terms of what we can sustain.

Much of the world is still unpopulated, and yet we have managed, so far, to have enough resources to go round.

The poor African nations seem to have been left behind in so many ways. Thousands have died through water drought over the last 20 years.

We, in the richer nations, want to help.

But it does mean further developing the science to turn 'water' into 'drinking water'.

If you are young and are reading this, consider a career in the science of water purification.

So, will the world ever run out of water?

The answer to this question is no, at least not in our lifetimes.

We may run out of drinking water, unless a method is found of desalinating sea water cheaply, or recycling sanitation water.

I have every belief that our scientists will work diligently towards a solution.

If not, then the Water Wars are not so far away.

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