Global warming is aggravating with it’s tell tale impacts on life on this planet earth as the climate is changing beyond our endurance. The relationship between water, energy, agriculture and climate is a significant one. More and more, that relationship is falling out of balance jeopardizing food, water and energy security. Yes, climate change is a phenomenon we can no longer deny as its effects have become increasingly evident worldwide.
As the earth’s temperature continues to rise, we can expect a significant impact on the very environment we live in especially on our fresh water supplies with the potential for devastating effects. As temperatures increase, evaporation increases, sometimes resulting in droughts. The US is currently in one of the most severe, multi-state, multi-year droughts in decades. In the case of India and other Southeast Asian countries too dog days are really ahead.
In addition, rising temperatures are melting glacial ice at an unprecedented rate. Glaciers are an important source of freshwater worldwide, and some are in danger of disappearing within the 21st century. Once these glaciers have melted away, they can’t be restored. Areas that previously depended on glaciers for freshwater will then have to seek other sources.
Complicating this potential outcome is the prediction that in a warmer environment, more precipitation will occur as rain rather than snow. Although more rain than snow may seem like a plus, it could mean more frequent water shortages. When snow and ice collect on mountaintops, water is released slowly into reservoirs as it melts throughout the spring and summer. When rain falls, reservoirs fill quickly to capacity in the winter, which can also result in excess water runoff that can’t be stored. Because rain flows faster than melting snow, higher levels of soil moisture and groundwater recharge are less likely to occur.
The relationship between climate change and water doesn’t end there. The systems used to treat and move public water supplies require large amounts of energy, produced mainly by burning coal, natural gas, oil and other fossil fuels. So, when we use water we also use energy and contribute to climate change. In addition, bottled water is a small but real contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, because it takes fuel to make plastic bottles and ship them around the country and abroad.
(Read the full article in the April Issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2016)