Water comes in bottles, pours out of skies and faucets and laps at the sand on beaches, covering more than two-thirds of the planet. A recent study also pointed out that the amount of land ice lost annually from glaciers and ice caps is enough to make the global sea level rise by half an inch. Unfortunately the sheer volume of water around is not the kind of water needed to perform tasks such as cleaning, cooking and helping crops grow, much less the water needed for use by industry or as an energy source.
To help alleviate water shortage concerns, many researchers are working on developing crops that are tolerant of drought or salt, and seeds that use water more efficiently. Water security itself was one of the topics discussed at the recent 14th Asian Security Conference in New Delhi.
In his speech to the conference attendees on Feb. 13, the Indian defense minister was quoted as saying that, “Water is actually fast emerging as a major source of insecurity and a potential issue for conflict among nations. Thus, nations need to cooperate on sharing water and efficient water usage and harvesting and initiate collective action for preserving our common environment.”
One method of tracking water usage to more efficiently use this resource came from a report released the same week as the Asian security conference. Engineers from the Netherlands calculated the water usage in every country between 1996 and 2005. To measure what they called the “water footprint of humanity,” they considered how much water is being used in the home, in agriculture and in industry, and factored in each country’s use of rainwater, which they referred to as “green” water, groundwater and surface water, which they called “blue” water, and polluted or “gray” water. More