Regions around the world are suffering from drought. In particular, the Western US and England are seeing some of the worst droughts in history. And this is starting to impact the size of rivers as they are beginning to shrink.
Rivers play a crucial role in delivering fresh water to both humans and wildlife. As they shrink, that water becomes a more precious commodity. Its absence will be felt by every living being in its vicinity.
It has the potential to literally decimate local ecosystems.
These rivers and streams contain tons of food like fish and insects, and as they shrink, so do those populations. It has a knock-on effect that will also impact animals higher on the food chain.
To put this into perspective, the Colorado River loses about 9.3% of its water flow each year. This has a domino effect as several states rely on this flow of fresh water for everything from drinking water to agriculture.
These conditions are happening on a global scale.
Climate Change Is Making Rivers Shrink
The main cause behind river shrinkage is the higher temperatures, which come from climate change.
You see, as the temperatures rise, so do evaporation rates. This is because it takes less energy for water to go from its liquid form to its gaseous form. Thus, rivers are shrinking faster because the water is literally evaporating.
In fact, this is why many reservoirs around the world have small plastic “shade” balls placed in them. These balls help prevent the evaporation rate from going up because the water stays cooler. Of course, it’s not just nature.
Human water consumption is at an all-time high. In the last 100 years, global water usage has gone up 600%. And when consumption is increasing at the same time evaporation is rising, well, eventually there will be a shortage.
What Can Be Done to Help?
Well, we can’t make it rain, so the best course of action is to improve our water usage efficiency and lower our emissions.
Some areas that are heavily affected by it are already implementing policy. For instance, California had to cut residential water usage because of the drought. In fact, water conditions have gotten so bad, that the Hoover Dam may stop producing energy.
One of the biggest ways to save water would be to stop residents from watering their lawns. In reality, cutting out water usage could result in a 25% reduction for some residents. It’s a really massive change, but America is obsessed with having a green lawn.
Of course, residential water usage is only one part of it. Agricultural water usage is the real problem.
Did you know that agricultural zones make up 70% of global water usage? Farm irrigation systems use a ton of water, and I mean that literally. That’s why vertical farms are really starting to become more practical, as they use less space and water than traditional farms.
Also, just traditional industrial water use is just as important to get under control. The bottom line, we need to use water more efficiently.
Water is a finite resource. We can run out of it, and at this rate, water will become more valuable than oil.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.