Water is the most precious resource we have on our planet. Water is life and even our Earth is named after it; Blue Planet. Life originated in the oceans more than 800 M years ago. Oceans are life-supporting systems and regulate the climate. Our survival ultimately depends upon healthy oceans. As Dr Sylvia Earle says, “No oceans, No us”
In the last 50 years (that is since we ventured to the Moon), the human population on Earth has doubled and with that, there is a growing need for food and water. About 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. Of that, only 1.2% can be used as drinking water; the rest is locked up in glaciers, ice caps and permafrost or buried deep in the ground.
Climate change and global warming are affecting the ecosystems and the life of all forms. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with many species getting extinct every day. We are losing biodiversity at immense rates and since the industrial revolution, more carbon is being pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and oils. This has led to a warmer planet.
The climate crisis needs today’s world’s attention. As oceans get warmer; natural calamities like storms, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons become more intense and occur more frequently leading to flash floods in cities thereby disrupting the lives of millions. Many Islands which used to exist are underwater due to global sea-level rise. India has witnessed the effects of climate change and needs more than 400 billion US dollars to address it.
In recent events, the Chennai megafloods caused havoc with an extreme level of continued rains. It was the worst flooding in the century. This kind of natural calamities hit people hard leaving them with no food, electricity and yet no water to drink. Ironically, the next year Chennai faced severe drought which made the water crisis even worst.
The groundwater table is an important source of drinking water. In fact, data shows that groundwater is the most reliable source of drinking water for nearly 43% of the rural population in the country. Bangalore, a city in the state of Karnataka has lost most of its green cover i.e. trees, thereby depleting precious groundwater table. The disrupted season cycle and monsoons lead to uneven rainfall distribution and even fewer rains many-a-times than expected. Another example of devastating floods that occurred in India was in the state of Uttarakhand in the year 2013 due to a mid-day cloud burst centred on the north Indian state. It was the worst natural disaster since the 2004 Tsunami.
Improper city planning and constant unnecessary development by destroying precious ecosystems like mangroves and forests are costing humans more than ever. The natural world needs protection as they protect us from natural disasters. India has 22 out of 30 most polluted cities with less than 50% of the population in India has access to safe drinking water. There is a need to raise awareness amongst people and every individual need to do their bit in saving precious water. Freshwater is very precious and not only is used for drinking but also for irrigation, manufacturing and power plants etc.
Water is a resource we cannot afford to waste as the future depends on it. We need to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and re-use water in every way we can. The future without water is hard to imagine because the future doesn’t exist without water.