As if there weren't already enough problems to worry about in the world today. Uncertainty reigns supreme as the media presents us with the threat of global terrorism, a slumping global economy and the punishing effects of climate change. Yet, there is one problem that I believe we are not talking enough about, and that is the growing scarcity of freshwater. First the problem will be outlined, and then several interesting investment opportunities will be explored.
For starters, it is important to remember that the water we drink today has probably been around in one form or another for hundreds of millions of years. This is due to the fact that the amount of freshwater on earth has remained constant, as the earth works as a large desalination plant, regularly recycling freshwater through the atmosphere (evaporation) and back towards our faucets (rainfall/snow). Yet, at the same time, world population has been growing exponentially. What this has caused is an ever-intensifying competition for access to clean water for drinking, bathing, cooking, growing crops and manufacturing.
In fact, 70 percent of the world is covered by water, and only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest of it is saline, and just 1 percent of the world's freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it caught in glaciers and snowfields. Strikingly, only 0.007 percent of the planet's water is available to fuel and feed its 7 billion people.
To make matters worse, humans are inefficient with their water use, water is even more scarce due to geography and climate change, and with population thought to grow to around 1.8 billion by 2025, it is estimated that around two-thirds of the world's population will live in regions where freshwater is scarce.
In the United States, many states are facing freshwater shortage issues and expect this to continue in the future. In addition, unconventional sources of demand, such as hydraulic fracturing for oil & gas exploration, may exacerbate shortages. Each well that employs hydraulic fracturing uses large amounts of water, and only a small percentage of this water can be reused. These facts beg the question of what is being done to combat the freshwater problem. The picture begins with desalination.
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