(NaturalNews) In approximately 25 years, fresh water may be hard to come by. Two new reports based on three years of research show that the entire world's population may go thirsty by 2040.
Remarkably, by 2020, between 30 and 40 percent of the world's population could be affected by water shortages. Much of the water shortage hinges on the way energy is produced today at coal-and natural-gas-fired power plants.
Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, Vermont Law School and the CNA Corporation got together to study today's energy production methods and how they compete with clean water sustainability. They were stunned by what they found and raised alarm. If humans continue on the same path of energy production that we are on today, wasting billions of gallons of water to cool coal-fired power plants, then in 25 years, all clean water sources could be tapped dry.
Water waste not accounted for
Millions of gallons of water are needed at coal and natural gas fired power plants. These plants require cooling cycles in order to function. Water is taken from the nearby environment to help cool steam at the power plant. According to the US Energy Information Administration, approximately 67 percent of electricity generated in 2013 in the US was derived from non-renewable fossil fuel combustion.
The researchers found that most power systems do not even record how much water is used during this process. With no quality controls in place, efficiency is disregarded, wasting unlimited amounts of water. As streams and aquifers are depleted, water security is lost with no going back.
Professor Benjamin Sovacool from Aarhus University found this simple fact very disturbing. "It's a huge problem that the electricity sector do not even realize how much water they actually consume. And together with the fact that we do not have unlimited water resources, it could lead to a serious crisis if nobody acts on it soon," he stated.
Consequentially, not accounting for wasteful water expenditure could force some parts of the world to experience extreme water shortages by as soon as 2020. The studies predict that up to 40 percent of the world's population could suffer. Professor Sovacool says that humanity will be faced with a choice: to continue generating electricity the way we currently do or to provide access to clean drinking water.
The need for wind and solar energy is dire
Having clean water will most definitely trump energy needs. Power plants will have to adapt to the looming water shortage crisis by converting over to wind-, geothermal- and solar-powered electricity plants.
Alternatively, there may be other ways to allow power plants to go through cooling cycles without using millions of gallons of water. Governments are likely to impose new regulations limiting the amount of water that can be used at these power plants. Half the planet may have no other choice but to ditch fossil-fuel-fired energy production. Solar panels and wind turbines are most assuredly the future energy source.
Right now in the US, solar power only makes up 0.23 percent of total energy production. Total energy production in the US in 2013 was 4,058 billion kilowatt-hours. Wind power made up 4.13 percent of that figure. Nonrenewable resources like natural gas made up 27 percent of that figure, with coal amounting to 39 percent.
These statistics show a great need for alternative sources of energy. The issue is not a matter of politics, not a matter of preserving economy. The way energy is predominantly produced is a matter of human survival. Will dirty energy production take precedence over the availability of clean water for people all around the world?
Will humans even recognize this crisis before it hits?