What better way to spend a hot summer day – lolling on a li-lo in the pool, with a drink in hand, staring at the clouds. This would be impossible without water. Although over 97 percent of water on Earth is part of the world ocean and a further 2 percent is ice, neither of these is easily transformed into usable water. Less than 1 percent of the total amount of water on Earth is usable for drinking, agriculture or industry (Bartholomew 2005). We take water for granted, yet this most precious resource is under threat. The view that life on earth has with water is inescapable – without water, life can simply not exist. This essay will provide information about water and explain why it is the Earth’s most important resource. First, water in natural world will be explored in the project. Then, the use of water in human civilization is delivered. The last part of the research paper is analysis of water scarcity situation making it the most crucial resource.
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2. Discussion of findings
. Water in nature
Water in natural world is divided into two main types: fresh water and salt water. Salt water is in the oceans. There are four oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic. Fresh water is almost contributed to lakes, streams, and rivers. The majority of freshwater is frozen, mainly in the form of glaciers and icecaps. Other frozen water sources include permanently frozen ground, icebergs, and ground ice. There are two types: running water and ground water. The former is mainly available in rivers, streams and rainfall. The second freshwater source is groundwater. This is water that lies under the surface. It exists almost everywhere in the world. The level of groundwater is supplied, in part, by precipitation. When rain falls, for example, it sinks down into the ground and is collected in aquifers (American Geosciences Institute’s On-Line n.d).
The total amount of water near the surface of the Earth stays almost the same through time, but water is always moving from place to place. This process takes place in various ways. It can transfer in the form of liquid, solid, or vapor. This complicated movement of the Earth’s water is called the hydrologic cycle (American Geosciences Institute’s On-Line n.d.). It is an enormous system generated by energy from the sun where the atmosphere provides the vital connection between the oceans and land. Water from the oceans and the continents is persistently evaporating into the atmosphere. Winds carry the moisture-laden air until the complex process of cloud formation is set. This process is called condensation. The condensation results in precipitation that falls into the ocean and land surface. This has ended water cycle and prepared to start another (Edward & Frederick 1990).
What happens to precipitation once it has fallen on land? A part of the water soaks into the ground, some of it moving downhill, laterally running into lakes, streams or directly into the ocean. When the rate of rainfall is greater than the Earth’s ability to absorb it, the additional water flows over the surface into lakes and streams. Also, some of the water that soaks in the ground surface is absorb by plants, which then release into the atmosphere. When precipitation falls at high raises, the water may not immediately soak in, run off, or evaporate. Instead it may turn into part of a snowfield or glacier. Glaciers store large amount of water on land. If present-day glaciers were to melt and release their storage of water, sea level would rise by several tens of meters and plunge many heavily populated coastal areas (Edward & Frederick 1990).
2.2. Water in human civilization
Water has shaped our civilizations since the beginning of human existence. Our earliest ancestors used to hunt, gather and wander around to find food and water to survive. Evolution led to early civilizations understanding agriculture which allowed them to stay in one place and create civilizations. They would form small towns around water for agricultural reasons (waterservicesolution.wordpress.com 2012). In today’s world, water is still one of nature’s most important gifts to mankind. It is essential for life and survival, and also for cultural and artistic expression. Water is vital for human’s needs, for homes and gardens, for agriculture, industry, and the environment. It can provide a means of transportation and is also a focus for leisure, social and sporting activities (Department for Education and Child Development n.d.).
Human’s survival depends on drinking water as it accounts for 75 percent of body weight. Water is one of the most crucial components to good health. It is necessary for human’s body to digest and absorb food; helps maintain proper muscle tone; supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cells; gets rid of the body of wastes; and serves as a natural air conditioning system (Sandi and Darrin 2012).
Agriculture accounts for about 70% of water all over the world, increasing to over 90% in developing areas. It is necessary for the production of our food, the natural fibres of our clothing and other goods based on agricultural fresh materials. Industry depends on water, much like agriculture and domestic households depend on water. Industrial reliance on water makes it essential to preserve water in every aspect possible and make sure water pollution is kept at minimum levels (Schroeder 2004). Industrial water withdrawals comprise approximately 23% of water consumption. In a range of industries, water is a key part of manufacturing process. Water is used to cool and heat systems and as an important product component. It is consumed, reused, processed, transformed and discharged (World Economic Forum 2008). According to the United Nations World Water Development Report (n.d.), some 300-500 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other wastes store each year from industry, most of which gets into the freshwater supply. In some developing countries, 70% of industrial wastes are dumped into untreated waters where they pollute the drinking water.
2.3. Situation of water scarcity
Over the last 300 years, world population has increased sevenfold, but water use has rocketed by 35 times. Since 1950, the amount of renewable fresh water each year available per human being has dropped by more than half (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2010).
Now, over 1.2 billion people – 20% of the world’s population – live in areas where the limits of sustainable water use have been reached. A report made by the CGIAR, FAO, CBD and the Ramsar Convention in 2007 predicted that we will not have enough water to meet global demand for food over the next few decades unless reorganizations in water and agriculture are carried out. Here illustrate some examples of effects of water scarcity. Global wheat supply has been restricted due to unsuccessful wheat crops as a result of severe drought in Australia. In the United States, it was predicted by the Environmental Protection Agency in October 2007 that the City of Atlanta’s main source of water, Lake Lainer, would be exhausted within 100 days unless considerable managements were taken. Climate change makes the situation worse. In Los Angeles, only 3.21 inches of rainfall were noted in the whole 2006-2007 rain season. It was the driest period on record (World Economic Forum 2008).
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The impacts of water scarcity influence a large number of sponsors in a variety of ways: commercial federations, communities’ health, the well-being of citizens, the success of local industries in the supply chain, the ability of local agriculture to deliver the crops demanded by people and the economy, and the potential of the natural environment to function effectively (World Economic Forum 2008).
In nowadays world, approximately two-fifths of the total population live in water shortage situation. Therefore, new policies of water management are urgently needed when the world’s population is predicted to have increased to 2-3 trillion people by 2050. Vietnam is also involved in the risk of water sources being exhausted. As urbanization and industrialization are taking place, people’s demand on consuming water for economic purposes and daily activities is now rising rapidly. As a result, water pollution and scarcity becomes a common and extremely serious phenomenon (Lao Cai Department of Water Resources and environment website n.d.)
The essay’s analysis has demonstrated that water has been becoming Earth’s most essential resource. Water plays an important role in harmonizing the natural circulation as well as meeting the demand of humankind. Yet this most precious resource is now scarce and on the edge of running out if no plan and policy is carried out. Obviously, more than one solution is necessary in order to reduce or solve the problem of water scarcity that the world copes with today. Our world recently faces a problem concerning a limited water supply. If the issue continues to grow without substantial changes, negative consequences are inevitable. Nevertheless, there are reasons to believe in a sufficient and qualified water supply in the future as authorities and organization are making considerable efforts to solve the serious situation.
Word count: 1500
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