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Climate Change Essay

2051 words - 9 pages

DOES CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT WATER RESOURCES?
Water. Water is the basis for life on earth. It hydrates our agricultural resources, powers our hydroelectric power stations and is essential for human hydration, sanitation, and all around survival. So it’s lucky that on earth, 70.8% of the surface is covered with water, however 97% of that water is high salinity seawater. The remainder is fresh water, but in that sliver of fresh water, only 25% is fluid water with 75% locked in polar ice caps in the arctic and Antarctica. Even though we can’t reach them, we’re contributing to the greenhouse effect (which effectively melts the caps and raises the sea level). But the freshwater we do have ...view middle of the document...

The majority of it is stored in Arctic and Antarctic ice floes, and because they’re located at the ends of the earth, they’re inaccessible to mankind. The rest of the water (less than 25%) is in bodies such as lakes, streams, the atmosphere and groundwater. But as the population of Earth increases, these resources which were scarce at the best of times, are being consumed at a phenomenal rate. At this moment, 7.2 billion people are using water to cook, clean, drink etc.. As this statistic increases, it is expected that water shortages will undoubtedly arise. Another problem is that the ice at the poles reflects solar radiation back into space, but with climate change, and the resulting reduction in ice and increase in harmful gases, the solar radiation is being trapped in earth’s atmosphere and accelerates the melting of the ice, creating a snowball effect until we have no more ice in the polar regions.
In areas like the Sahel, climate change is affecting the precipitation patterns and moisture quantities in the soil and creating large periods of drought. From the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s, the Sahel region suffered what was considered to be one the worst droughts in world history. Countries such as Nigeria, Niger and Mali were the worst hit as a loss of natural vegetation and an increase of ocean temperature were some of the reasons why the drought hit so hard for so long. Over 250,000 human fatalities resulted from the drought and livestock was battered by heat, hunger and thirst. People had to travel up to 4 km to reach the nearest watering hole. Dry dirt is blown over the topsoil and forms a desert, but when rain finally arrives the dirt is washed off and agriculture can start again. The only problem is that the land is eventually going to become overworked and dry resulting in what is termed, DESERTIFICATION (1).
And with all this talk of water drying up, countries have decided to invest in means to turn previously unusable water into fresh water. There is the obvious storm water, which just involves collecting rainwater for storage. But other methods to treat water to make it usable are not the best for the environment. For example, desalination is a very effective method of retrieving water from salt water, however it takes a tonne of fuel to create 100 cubic metres of fresh water, not the most environmentally safe option. Another method is to take the water in the atmosphere (which comes in the form of 98% water vapour and 2% condensed water, which are clouds) and cool it into fresh, fluid water. The cons of this, however are that it is a very costly and difficult process, not to mention that the technology is not fully developed yet and at this current point, it can only retrieve small amounts of water from our atmosphere, which is not going to be effective over the long run. However a method of treating water is already underway. It’s called waste water purification and it just involves taking water from...

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