As we all know, the planet Earth would cease to exist if it ran out of water. Every living thing, including us humans, will not be able to survive without it. Historically, water has been an extremely renewable resource via the dependable water cycle. Water evaporates into the atmosphere, condenses into clouds, and falls as rain, covering 3/4ths of the surface as oceans, rivers, glaciers, and more. It's been over 4.5 million millennia since the planet was born, and the water cycle hasn't let us down yet. Until now, that is.
Thanks to the spectre of climate change, the Earth's booming population and the record increase in industrial and agricultural water requirements, the water cycle is unbalanced. And there is a growing sense of concern in the scientific and environmental community that the planet may soon run out of water.
The planet's temperature has been steadily climbing since after World War 2. The increase in the heat leads to more water evaporating and then getting converted into more water vapor, leading to higher rain levels and flooding. Because the planet is hotter, glaciers, like the giant.
Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland, which supplies water to millions of people in central Europe, is steadily melting away, losing about two per cent of mass annually. This instability threatens everyone and everything that needs water to survive because the planet only has a small percentage of accessible freshwater.
A whopping 96.5% of the water on the planet is undrinkable saltwater found in our oceans. The remaining 3.5% is freshwater stored as ice and snow in the North and South poles, glaciers and various mountain regions around the globe. Meltwater from glaciers helps replenish rivers and aquifers. But we've also wasted these freshwater catch points since many rivers now flow straight into the ocean because they have been dammed up or converted into big water "freeways" to help with industry and transport.
Scientists around the globe today are using technology while looking at ancient water management techniques and history to help find solutions for the looming water scarcity crisis. For example, scientists can now fly large electromagnetic wave measuring antennas over areas to locate fresh water underground. Even the bottom of the Mediterranean, off the coast of Malta, is currently being scanned by similar tech to find previously unknown freshwater deposits in the seabed as reported in ancient times.
Malta, in particular, has hardly any natural water sources and currently desalinates ocean water for consumption. However, they continue to look at their ancient water management systems, including a vast network of cisterns, and how they can help solve their water problems today. Peru is also following suit, successfully reviving amunas, a 1400-year-old ancient Incan technique of diverting rain or excess water into preselected areas so it can seep back into the ground over a large area.
Though we are getting close to losing our water, there is still hope, especially if the entire global community works together. We all need to take action and adjust how we use and save water, get creative in using technology, and look at nature and the past for solutions.
Directed by: Hannes Schuler