What will happen- ecologically, politically, and economically- as our world’s water sources are depleted? Water is connected to agriculture through grain production; this means that water shortages around the world, due to climate change, desertification, and over-exhaustion of aquifers will produce food shortages as well. While groundwater continues to diminish through overuse and drilling into aquifers becomes more energy and environmentally intensive, the world’s population is steadily increasing; this creates an even bigger demand for grain. Although agriculture- aided by water from lakes, rivers, groundwater, and wells- has been able to support rapid population growth, at a certain point, this water will dry up. Despite its life-giving properties, water will necessarily become a source of conflict because of its ties to primary food sources.
The competition for water is not just between nations, but between cities and farmers, the rich and poor, and between local communities and investors making land acquisitions abroad. However, through negotiation and trade, sharing water could become a bridge in tense international relationships. Dwindling water must become a global concern, because many countries are unprepared and ill-equipped to cope with little or no water.
Innovation to find cooperative solutions to this mounting problem is necessary; through conservation, promotion of drought tolerant crops and cultivation techniques, and governmental action at the local and international levels, water systems can be preserved and new distribution and processing tools can be implemented. Also, a new respect for water must be cultivated, because even if we innovate out of this situation, the way we think about water also needs to change.