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By Heather Ware

What you need to know about climate change and water scarcity

There are probably a few images that come to mind when you first think of climate change. A loss of land, perhaps, from melting glaciers, or a rise in the intensity of natural disasters. What you may not realize, however, is that climate change is having a massive impact on the amount of available drinking water across the globe.

Climate change and water scarcity

According to a recent report from the World Bank, climate change is having a serious impact on water scarcity. More specifically, climate change is ensuring that places with too little water will not be solving that issue any time soon.

The report found that by 2050, water scarcity would prevent in-need areas from having access to water, and locations that currently do not have water shortages will likely begin to suffer from water scarcity. Urban areas would be particularly affected, with water availability in cities dropping by two-thirds compared to current levels.

It does not stop there, however. Climate change will continue to raise global temperatures, which will result in more evaporation. More evaporation means less water for farmers during the growing season, and will likely result in increased food shortages.

These facts can be surprising, especially because water scarcity is not something commonly associated with climate change. Here is what you need to know about how it happens.

How does it work?

The issue is not that climate change never returns water to the water cycle, but that it redistributes water away from the most in-need areas. The countries that primarily suffer from water scarcity are poor or developing nations without the resources to fix their water issue, but they can be found across the globe.

Whether it be North Africa, Central Asia, or Central America, there are a lot of people that do not have access to adequate amounts of drinking water. Right now, one quarter of the human race suffers from water scarcity and, according to the World Bank's report, that number may double by 2050.

In addition to water redistribution, the more well-known aspects of climate change are also contributing to water scarcity. As shorelines rise, more and more coastal aquifers are destroyed by saltwater. This means that there is less drinkable water to go around, even in places that have never had a water issue.

What can you do?

The entire situation does not have a positive outlook, but that does not mean that there is nothing to do but wait for water scarcity to increase. There are certain measures that anyone can take that can help slow and, with enough support, prevent the worsening of the global water crisis.

Did you know that all of the water in your home is purified? From the water used to wash your clothes to your toilet water, it all went through an extensive purification process to make it drinkable, regardless of the fact that you will (hopefully) never be drinking from your toilet. As you might imagine, this is a massive waste of resources, and a waste of drinkable water.

The solution? Water recycling. By reusing water, you can significantly cut back on the amount of water that your household uses. Nobody is suggesting that you reuse your old toilet water, but there are some measures that can be taken to help the cause.

  • Collect rainwater. This can be used for things like toilets or sprinklers, which do not need purified water to be effective.
  • Reuse old water. For example, there is no reason that shower water or dish water could not be used for toilet water.
  • Go green. Recycle, use energy-efficient appliances, the whole nine yards. The best way to solve this issue is to minimize climate change as much as possible, and that means handling the issue at its source. Remove the cause and there will be no reason to deal with the symptom, right?

While some of these solutions may require a conversation with a plumber, these are certainly conversations that are worth having. Gray water is something that many contractors are happy to plan for, so do not fear looking into reusing water for your home. It may be vital to someone's survival.

Be aware

Ignorance is the most dangerous contributor to climate change and its effects. By staying aware, you will be far better prepared to do your part in not only helping the planet, but helping the people that live on it. Stay informed, keep learning about what you can do to help, and you may be able to help stop this issue before it truly begins.

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