NASA study on water wake-up call

Water is pecious... Save Water... A piegon try to find a drop of water from a dry plastic pot to quench his thirst as the world is celebrating world water day at Station Bazaar in Kalaburagi on Wednesday. - Photo/ Prashanth HG

The problem of depleting water resources all over the world and the threat of acute scarcity of water have often been discussed. A comprehensive and first-of-its-kind study by the American space agency NASA has revealed the full extent of the problem and its implications. The study covered the entire globe, and used data collected over many years by scientists by different means like direct observation, satellite imagery and written accounts. It was published in the scientific journal Nature last week, and paints a scary picture, backed up by strong proof for its inferences. The earth’s wetlands are getting wetter and dry regions are getting drier due to human water management, climate change and natural cycles. Groundwater is depleting fast and fresh water availability is shrinking. The melting of ice sheets in the poles is causing sea levels to rise. The entire water ecology of the world is changing.  

Unsustainable extraction of groundwater, pollution and depletion of rivers and other water sources, overuse and wastage of water and failure to conserve it are the major causes for the coming crunch. Most of the rivers are obstructed by dams and other human constructions and activities, and the water is polluted in various ways. Dams serve a purpose, but often too much water is impounded and wasted, and springs and water channels along the downstream course of the rivers are affected. There is no proper management of the water collected in the dams. It is hardly realised that most normal human activities like navigation, fishing, etc., put pressure on rivers and other water systems when excessively done. Population growth, changes in agricultural practices, industrialisation and deforestation have had a serious impact on the availability and use of fresh water. Ecological changes in mountains like the Himalayas, which are big sources of fresh water, are other negative factors.   

The crisis is not a nightmare of the future. It is already a reality in most parts of the world. Developing countries are particularly affected and the situation in India is especially bad. It is going to get much worse, going by present trends. Even now, the deterioration can be arrested with optimum use and management of water. There is enough water for everyone on earth if it is used economically, wastage is avoided and effective conservation measures are adopted. Preservation of water bodies and implementation of rainwater harvesting techniques can make a lot of difference to the availability of water. The attitude to water should change first. If people consider it as a precious commodity and feel responsible for it, steps for its right use and conservation will follow. 

 

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NASA study on water wake-up call

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