Last Friday, the United Nations announced that the world may be facing a major shortage of water supplies in about fifteen years. Available water for consumption and other uses may be reduced by 40% as a result of factors such as urbanization, high living standards, heavy industry usage, and booming population growth. The report calls for drastic measures to keep freshwater as a readily available resource for the future, as some regions of the world are already starting to run out of water and aquifers are becoming exploited beyond a sustainable level. This will mean cutting down on heavy water consumption and use, a move which will affect people and industries worldwide.

The current rate of water use is already unsustainable, and for it to carry on and increase in the coming years is sure to prove harmful. The agriculture and energy industries use a large majority of freshwater resources for production purposes, at 70% and 15% respectively. With population growth, demands from the agriculture industry for water will be even higher for growing crops and raising livestock. The same is expected for energy industry, especially with the effects of increased urbanization. It is predicted that by 2050, the majority of the world population will be living in cities, requiring easy access to clean water and effective sanitation. Rising standards of living in these cities may also lead to excessive usage of water and energy. Moreover, water is needed to produce all the required forms of energy, and energy demands for these cities is projected to increase by 40%. The effects of climate change will also be present, as environmental disasters will become more frequent and affect the distribution and availability of water.

The UN is currently calling on these industries to do their best to be more water efficient, and invest in sustainable water management. While such investment may seem daunting, it actually can prove to have an income return of at least twice the initial investment. The report claims that regions that have long-term plans for their water usage will retain strong economies in future years, as populations with access to clean water will flourish. Potential economic benefits and major human dependency on water should be able to convince businesses and governments to revamp their water usage in order to prevent hardships for future populations.

What is your reaction to the news in the UN report? Do you think that future use of water supplies will become sustainable?

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