One need only look at how the Earth looks from space to understand why our planet is known as the “blue planet.” Its dominant color is since more than 70% of the world’s surface is covered by water, while the remaining 30% is landmass. However, it is scarcer than we imagine.
From space, any image of our planet shows that the Earth is a “blue planet” or “water planet.” However, although the blue color of the seas and oceans stands out the most, they are shallow compared to the radius of the world.
The Blue Planet
When analyzing the Earth’s surface, 70% is indeed covered by water, but this percentage is not equivalent to the mass. This figure represents only 0.023% of the total, that is, a thin film concerning the size of the planet. If we were to gather all the water on the planet, we would obtain a sphere of fewer than 1,350 kilometers in diameter. The Earth has a water availability of 1,386 million cubic kilometers, of which:
- Saltwater (97.5%)
- Freshwater (2.5%)
However, only 0.007% of the total is available for human consumption because 69.7% of fresh water is frozen at the poles or in glaciers, 30% is buried beneath the surface in aquifers, and 0.3% in rivers and lakes.
Preventing water from becoming contaminated is particularly important. Since there is so little fresh water available, without good purification, the resource becomes even scarcer. According to UNESCO, 80% of wastewater returns to the ecosystem without any treatment.
Consequences Of Scarcity
Water is essential for life on Earth. However, water scarcity already affects four out of 10 people according to the UN, which predicts that by 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will live in countries with a chronic lack of clean water. Global demand for freshwater will grow by more than 40%. A major problem that can cause:
- Diseases: Contaminated water causes the death of more than 340,000 children a year from diarrhea.
- Starvation: scarcity can affect agriculture, livestock, industry, and food production.
- The disappearance of species: both plants and animals need a large amount of water for their development, and if water becomes scarce, they will disappear.