Nearly eighty years ago the United States experienced a decade long drought that altered the course of American history. Now we live in a time with a drought severe enough to alter the history of the world. According to a Vanguard interview on Current TV, with the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, “there are fifty countries with nearly 2.7 billion people, who do not have access to water.”   In a world where our differences are shrinking, so is the most valuable resource for our survival, our fresh water supply.

According to the United States drought monitor, the state of California reported a record to near record dry spring in hundreds of locations throughout the state. The drought was so severe it prompted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a statewide drought. In a recent report from the US government Accountability Office, “At least 36 states will experience water shortages within the next five years.” The main areas to be effected will be the Southeast, Southwest, and the Pacific west. How bad is the drought at this moment? The Colorado River no longer ruins into the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Mead has experienced a 60 feet drop in the level of water within the past three years. The Everglades in South Florida is experiencing a shift in its ecosystem as the once freshwater swamp slowly evolves into a saltwater pit. Yet, the United States is not alone.

According to the same Vanguard interview, the northern Chinese province of Hebei, (pronounced Hébĕi)  is home to more than two million people and half of the country’s production of wheat. However, the river that feeds life into the area and eventually Beijing has fallen 97% from its original capacity. The country itself is under a desertification. Nearly 2,000 sq/km of arable land turns into desert each year. Today, nearly 25% of China is a desert and one that is continuously growing everyday.

So what brought us to the breaking point? Although some climatologist lean toward global warming, other scientist and those who survived the Dust Bowl of the thirties blame ourselves. With the rapid rise in human population, the demands on necessary resources also drastically increased. Our excessive consumption of water has dried-up rivers and lakes, and has drained our reservoirs, and aqueducts. We, as a specie can not survive without water. Even the plants in which we consume need this resource. In fact the cultivation of the land is also blamed on the current global drought.

Whether is it the over-farming in the plains of China or the man-made canals that redirect runoff water in the United States, humans have altered the natural flow of water.  Our methods in farming are far out dated in which they reflect a time when water was in abundance.  However, now that we are experiencing a servere drought, our methods must adapt for the sake of our survival.  Understanding the causation of a problem and the impact it has will lead to the development of a solution.

Areas that are overwhelming effected by the shortage of water have already begun to take action.  Suburban cities in the US  have implemented restricitions on the useage of water for lawns.  Permitting alternating days dependant upon the numerical address.  In Spain where the lack of water has set region against region, water is imported from France, city fountantins have been turned off, and a desalination plant near Barcelona is being constructed to extract water from the sea.  Younger cities in the United States such as Irvine, California and Cape Coral, Florida, have constructed a reusable water system.  The recycled water is comprised of a collection of used water from homes, businesses, as well as storm runoffs.  Once it has been filtered, the water is then redistributed to be used for irrigation purposes  for crops, golf courses, wetlands enhancement, and serves as a cooling system for industries. A recycled water system is a component of the citywide water system.  Therefore dual distribution provides fresh and recycled water.  In Saint Petersburg, Florida this system has reduced portable water usage by 50%.  Imagine a similar system in operation throughout every state in the Union and the millions of fresh water that would be saved each year.

We have all witness the value of commodities such as food and energy soar within the year causing civil unrest in developing countries from the islands of Latin America to the plains of Africa.  We have been fortunate to find alternatives for these commodities.  However, for water there is no subsitute.  Each of us has a responsibility, not to consume, but to conserve.   Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, fix leaking faucets, do not water turfs.  If we do not, water will be a commodity of the wealthy as the rest of humanity slowly dies of thirst.

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