At Wasser 3.0 we talk about water, here you will get more and more scientifically based information about this tiny little molecules, which rules the world.
The principle of all things is the water; everything is made of water and everything returns to the water. (Thales of Miletus)
There are about 1.4 billion cubic meters of water on earth, but water shortage is omnipresent.
The total volume of water in the world does not change. But only 2.5 percent of the world’s water is freshwater. In turn, more than two-thirds of this freshwater cannot be consumed by humans. 69.5 percent of fresh water is bound in permafrost, glaciers, etc. and therefore not accessible.
Furthermore, about 30.1 percent of the water, groundwater and thus not directly accessible, but basically used by humans. 0,4 percent of fresh water are surface water and thus directly accessible.
Facts about drinking water availability:
• At least eleven percent of the world’s population (780 million) has no access to an improved source of drinking water. Often people have to travel very long distances to fetch water, this is especially true for women / children.
• Poor drinking water availability is directly related to the income and educational standard of the children.
• Poor water quality leads to illness: more than two million children die each year.
• Ten percent of illnesses could be prevented by improved water and sanitation
A so-called improved source of drinking water is protected from external pollution, especially from contamination by fecal bacteria. This can be for example a hand pump, a rainwater cistern or a separate line.
• According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, in 2010, 89 percent of the world’s population had access to an improved source of drinking water
• Eleven percent of the world’s population must use polluted water or travel long distances to get drinking water.
The water crisis is progressing inexorably. Most sufferers live in rural areas, but the cities in which the supply is generally better, due to the high population growth ever greater problems to provide a reliable water network. Especially in slum areas, the water supply is usually catastrophic. The lack of water and sanitation has devastating effects on human health and development as well as on the economy. More children die from diarrhea than tuberculosis, malaria and HIV / AIDS combined.
Every 20 seconds a child worldwide dies as a result of contaminated water and poor hygiene.
The income and standard of living of families who have access to a nearby water source often rises. That’s because the women are not spending hours and hours fetching water. They can use the time elsewhere and thus contribute to a higher income. Also, children go to school more often because they no longer spend so much time collecting water and, in addition, rare diseases such as diarrhea, when clean water is available.
Water consumption in industrialized and emerging countries is very high. It is particularly strong in the growing economic powers of the South. Increasingly, the lifestyle of the new middle class in economically developing countries is approaching that of the West.
Above all, the amount of water required by the high consumption of processed and processed products such as meat, clothing and electrical appliances is significantly higher than the average consumption in the countries of the South.
Water consumption is also increasing globally: Excessive use, but also pollution of water, is a real problem. The use of groundwater has at least tripled in the last 50 years and consumption continues to increase by 1 to 2 percent per year. Groundwater resources are not necessarily renewable. Such an enormous exploitation of these resources can lead to their disappearance.
An additional factor that reinforces this trend is population growth: it causes more water to be consumed, more food needed, and more consumed overall. Especially unsustainable irrigation methods in agriculture and high water consumption in industry overuse natural resources.
Agriculture is the sector with the highest water consumption. The problem is that irrigation is often used inefficiently. In order to be able to produce enough food in the future, water resources must be used sparingly and purposefully. This is especially important in order to have sustainable enough water available.
Damage to the ecosystem means that less good quality water is available. Interventions in the ecosystem are carried out through intensive agriculture, urbanization, straightening rivers, damming lakes and feet, cutting down forests and releasing greenhouse gases through various forms of energy production.
Water pollution – Another problem concerns the quality of the water:
The industry often releases pollutants into the water. Especially in countries with little control by the authorities and a lot of corruption, the wastewater from factories is often channeled unfiltered into rivers and lakes. The pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture make a significant contribution to water pollution.
Another problem is the lack of sanitation in many places. Waste water and fecal matter are not drained off, but often escape unprotected, polluting the water people use to wash, cook and drink. This has devastating consequences for the health.
Distribution problems: Globally, there is enough (on the basis of mathematics) enough water on earth, so that each person can satisfy their basic needs. The problem is an unfair distribution.
Even if theoretically there is enough drinking water in a region that does not mean that everyone has access to clean drinking water. Often there is a lack of the necessary infrastructure, which brings the water also to poor and marginalized parts of society. Partly, water is so expensive that only the rich can afford enough water. In regions where conflicts prevail, access to water is used as a means of power. For example, much of the West Bank’s water resources are under Israeli control, and only a small proportion of the water is granted to the Palestinian population.
By definition, water consumption means: In the commercial sense, the amount of water consumed during use that is not dissipated as cooling water or waste water, which therefore remains in the product, evaporates or otherwise leaves the pipe system.
In a more comprehensive definition of the term, in addition to commercial or municipal consumption, the amount of surface and groundwater consumed by plants and either transpired or consumed directly to build up the plant tissue as well as the volume of water evaporated per unit area are taken into account.
What role does “virtual water” play in the sustainability discussion?
The term “virtual water” describes the amount of water used to make a product, whether industrial or agricultural. Or, in short, “virtual water” is the water used to produce a product. Tony Allan – “inventor of the term virtual water” / study “Water Footprints of Nations” (2004)
An example of getting started: About 16,000 liters of water are used to produce one kilogram of beef. In addition to the water used to soak the animals, the water used to grow the feed for the cattle is also calculated, for example.
What does that mean exactly? What about the use of water in Germany per inhabitant and day? If you look closely at the average consumption of Germans per day, we are about 4000 liters of water. This makes a huge difference to the 125 liters of “visible” water that is needed for daily needs such as hygiene, cooking, etc.
An example: Cotton
The main cotton producing countries are China, India, USA, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Egypt. On a global average, around 11,000 liters of water are needed to produce 1 kg of cotton.
A large proportion of the cotton worn in Germany comes from India, where more than 23,000 liters of water are used for 1 kg of cotton. Worldwide, cotton production requires 256 cubic kilometers of water a year – enough to supply every citizen of the world with 120 liters of fresh water a day.
Recommendation for shopping
• Use textiles longer. The higher the life, the better the LCA. Pay attention to good quality.
• You can give away, sell or exchange worn-out clothing. Conversely, you will find in second-hand stores some high-quality textile at a great price.
• Hemp and linen, as outerwear fiber plants, offer environmentally friendly alternatives, as only one quarter of the water volume (2,500 l) is needed to produce one kg of these textiles, just like cotton (11,000 l). In our latitudes rainfall is sufficient. The groundwater is spared.
Although synthetic fibers also save water, they are not readily biodegradable and pollute the environment during disposal. That’s where the microplastic topic comes our way. Read more in our further blogs.
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