Scarce Food and Troubled Waters

Plentiful production may become a thing of the past.

Further we go back in history, the greater is the effect of drought on food production, when the paucity of irrigational facilities affected the growth of crops, leading to food shortage and famine. Sometimes, irrespective of there being a good harvest the lack of a proper distribution network resulted in millions going without food. Returning to modern times, the problem continues unabated with population growth and complex environmental changes being added to the causation list.

This problem is a bit paradoxical, with insufficient production resulting in a real shortage of food on one hand while sufficient production but the lack of infrastructure like roads and railways which prevent the harvest from being transported to all corners of the country causing a famine on the other. African nations are the most affected due to the lack of resources and the ability to buffer themselves from the vagaries of nature.

The Guardian has reported that four billion people that are two thirds of world population suffer from severe water shortage for the duration of at least one month per year in some form. Most of these people live in China and India, some in Australia, the US and even London. By far Yemen is the worst affected country in the world.

It has been seen that the relation between water consumption and replenishment of aquifers from rain is a negative one boding serious consequences for over 500 million people dependent upon such sources of water. Yemen is acutely vulnerable to this problem and may run out of water in a few years. Other nations with similar problems are Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

According to the World Economic Forum water crisis is one of the greatest human risks alongside climate change and mass migration. The three factors are related by causation as drought caused by climate change forces farmers to leave agriculture and migrate to the cities to find work.

Farming is the largest consumer of water. As humanity progresses into prosperity the greater is the consumption of water due to changing diets that is directly related to the consumption of meat. Studies have shown that rising incomes increase water consumption by 25 percent, most of which is utilised to grow crops that feed the cattle. Reducing meat consumption and altering menu options to include fish will have a lesser impact on water consumption.

Water management is essential for planned water conservation and to prevent aquifers from drying up completely. The footprint of water consumption should be narrowed so that biospheres with flora and fauna do not dry up risking their extinction.

The lack of adequate water management is a serious risk, especially for those areas dependent on aquifer as a source. Manufacturing companies are water consumers who rarely look for alternatives to reduce water consumption.

These are serious problems facing companies that use the free resource rampantly and with impunity. To protect humanity from the risk of water scarcity, its usage should be limited and taxable.

1 Comment on Scarce Food and Troubled Waters

  1. Management of water resources is the need of the hour. India faces drought,famine in certain states while flooding is a major worry in some states. Water conservation is an issue that everyone needs to be aware of. Rapid,uncontrolled urbanization has led to large scale utilization of the scarce commodity. Indians in general are not serious about water conservation and waste water. Lakes have dried up in cities or have been encroached by the unscrupulous builders in connivance with the bureaucracy and political class. Almost every apartment complex in the cities get water supply through private tankers on a regular basis. As a result,majority of apartment dwellers do not face the situation where they need to conserve water and use less water for daily consumption.
    Modern household gadgets like washing machines,dish washers consume large quantity of water and this is unavoidable. The solution lies in optimum design of appliances to conserve less water and perform the activities with maximum efficiency without wasting water.
    Free water supply to the farmers in certain states of India has lead to severe shortage of water. The political class with an eye on farmer’s vote bank is responsible for the grave situation.
    India needs to learn from Israel which has specialized in converting seawater to drinking water using technology.
    All Indians need education on water conservation and this activity must begin at schools,colleges.

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