Thursday, January 24, 2013


The importance of water in this Universe cannot be over emphasized. The whole human civilization prospered over thousands of years of history because of plenty of water sources accessible to them. With modern world built on unsustainable energy and water consumption levels in pursuit of material comforts, world seems to be running out of both these critical resources. While fossil fuel, the very foundation of modern industrialized society is fast dwindling with most sources getting exhausted due to over exploitation, water is also facing a similar situation. Though this planet boasts of abundant water all around, most of it is brackish in nature unfit for consumption or use for any productive purpose. Over exploitation of ground water and loss of rain water due to flow off into the ocean and destruction of natural lakes and water bodies, both the drinking water supply as well as irrigation water needs are dwindling fast, putting the future of humanity into a crisis mode. If the current trend continues, even production of food required to meet the bare minimum needs of man will be in jeopardy. Here is a commentary on the impending disaster if adequate measures are not taken now to meet the grim situation ahead.  

Allegations abound of manufacturers in developing countries depleting or damaging local freshwater to produce nutritiously dubious products, but, even where operations do not impact a community's supplies, can multinationals really justify creating water intensive foodstuffs for foreign markets when so many in the source nation lack clean water? Crossley suggests the issue is fundamentally an issue of rights. "We should not assume," he explains, "that we in the UK somehow have more of a right to the water that goes into producing our green beans or our tomatoes than those living in the [places] where they're grown." Aware that water scarcity presents real challenges, the cohort of companies looking to find solutions is expanding. In Britain, industry body the Food and Drink Federation launched the Every Last Drop campaign to focus on the practical steps that can be taken to conserve water, including tracking usage and reducing, recycling and reusing supplies. Food manufacturers "want to be responsible and do the right thing" insists Andrew Kuyk, the federation's director of sustainability. "What we eat in this country does affect the availability of water for domestic communities in Africa, South America, Australia or various other parts of the world – there is an inter-connectedness through global supply chains." Around a quarter of food and drink manufacturers in England and Wales have now committed to reducing water usage by 20% by 2020. But if they want to fully protect themselves against future water crises, they need to think about the whole of their supply chain, says Kuyk. "In some parts of Africa the combination of temperature rises and water scarcity will mean that some traditional crops may not be viable in ten years time. So if you are a chocolate manufacturer you need to start thinking: what are the potential alternative sources?" Many observers point to technological changes to help avert water crises. From genetic engineering and innovations in purification and desalination to novel changes to irrigation, recycling, piping and storage, there is reason to believe that water scarcity is not an "insoluble" problem, says Kuyk.But as long as water is cheap, the disincentive to invest in water efficiency may be too great. "If you can turn a tap on and get water for free, why would you spend £20,000 installing a piece of machinery?"
Drastic situation requires drastic remedies and mankind has no alternative but to reduce water consumption to a bare minimum besides taking measures to conserve water as much as possible. The recycling of used water cannot be brushed away and increasingly this is going to be a viable option. Similarly processing saline water to extract pure water is also emerging as an unavoidable necessity and countries like UAE, Israel have already proved that this route is feasible and desirable. There are highly efficient water technologies developed over the years and all it needs is a will and determination to take them up in a big way. The old concept that water is available plenty and can be had free will have to yield to new philosophy that it is a precious resource for which every one has to pay a price.


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