Commodities & Metals

World Running Out of Water

The world is low on water, from the standpoint of supply needed for human use, and the problem has grown rapidly. Worse still, the problem has no ready solution — and probably has no solution at all.

The World Resources Institute predicts that “By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in water-scarce countries or regions, with alarming implications for human wellbeing and global security.” Much of this water will be needed to irrigate crops. That makes the problem a dual one — water for drinking and water for food.

The institute blames developed nations for the overuse of water. That may be true, but a solution assumes that water is portable. It is not, at least not from continent to continent. Water in the U.S. cannot be transported in any significant amount to Africa.

This lack of transportability, along with droughts that already ravaged some parts of the most populated nations, creates a problem that cannot be made better. It is tempting to say that all problems of poverty and famine can be solved, but that is not true from any practical standpoint. Parts of Africa and Asia will be nearly barren of crops in a decade and a half. The trend has already begun. China’s wheat crop failed last year because of drought. The southeastern U.S. has become close to a dust bowl. The portions of north African and impoverished central Africa are in the midst of water shortages that almost certainly will not improve.

The World Resources Institute has raised a point, but it has not offered a solution to the problem. That is because there is no solution.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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