Science, Technology and Humanities Confronting the Global Water Crisis

Dr. Jose Manuel Nieto Jalil

Given the unprecedented challenges we face due to climate change and population growth, conserving our most valuable resource, water, becomes practically urgent.

Water scarcity is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century and one of the main challenges facing many countries in the world, including Mexico.

This phenomenon is not limited to lack of access to water resources, but also includes the crisis of available fresh water to meet environmental, agricultural, domestic and industrial needs.

Scarcity will increase due to population growth which will put additional pressure on limited natural resources.

Pollution of water bodies further worsens the situation, limiting safe levels for consumption and aquatic ecosystems.

Over-exploitation of water resources, especially groundwater, is depleting these vital reservoirs.

Furthermore, the increase in consumption of virtual water, which refers to its use in the production of goods and services consumed by people who do not live in the area of ‚Äč‚Äčorigin of the liquid, further complicates the global water picture.

According to the United Nations, nearly two million people die each year without access to clean water, underscoring the severity of the problem. Diseases associated with contaminated water and lack of basic sanitation are direct causes of these deaths, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

The shortage has devastating consequences for food security, as agriculture is one of the largest consumers of freshwater. It also threatens biodiversity, as aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems depend on regular access to fresh water.

Multifaceted solutions are needed that include sustainable and equitable water management, investment in treatment and desalination technologies, promotion of efficient water use in agriculture and industry, and protection of ecosystems that provide essential water services.

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International cooperation and commitment at the local level is essential to effectively address the water crisis and ensure a future where access to safe water and sanitation is a reality for all.

Water use and consumption has grown at twice the rate of population growth. Half of humanity lives in cities, and in two decades, nearly 60% of the world's population will do so.

We cannot talk about global water scarcity, but there are increasing areas of chronic water scarcity. Due to scarcity we use non-traditional sources like sea water, waste water and gray water.

It is a complex phenomenon that is the result of both natural factors and human intervention.

We often underestimate how much water we individually consume, limiting our perception of what we drink, what we use in the shower, or washing clothes. However, there is hidden or “virtual” consumption referred to as the “water footprint”. It refers to the quantity required to produce the food and goods we use in our daily lives.

Desertification, a process that reduces the productivity of land, is another significant impact that affects us, losing hectares of fertile land every year.

This is not an isolated problem; It is closely related to climate change. Biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of our natural resources is an urgent need.

It is important to recognize that water is not just a competitive resource, but an essential human right inherent in all aspects of life.

Earth has enough drinking water to supply all its people, but its distribution is erratic.

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Some areas are highly wasteful, occasionally polluted and unsustainably managed.

Average annual water availability in the world is about 1,386 million cubic kilometers: 97.5% salt water and 2.5% fresh; Of that amount, nearly 70% is not available for human consumption, as only a small portion is available as it is found in glaciers, ice, and snow.

Science and technology, along with advances in artificial intelligence, are promising towards a more sustainable future in water management.

Technological innovations range from smart irrigation systems that reduce waste by catering to specific needs, to advanced treatment plants that recycle wastewater with unprecedented efficiency.

By analyzing large amounts of data, AI can more accurately predict drought patterns, optimize water use in critical sectors such as agriculture and industry, and anticipate problems with water infrastructure before they occur.

These capabilities not only allow water to be used more efficiently, but also open up new opportunities to restore and purify water resources that were previously not considered feasible.

Beyond expertise in water use and treatment, science and technology enable global collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Digital platforms and advanced modeling tools allow scientists, engineers and policy makers to share strategies and solutions, adapting them to local needs and circumstances.

This collaboration is essential to address a crisis that knows no borders and requires joint effort.

Finally, the role of education in this context is equally important. Raising awareness of the importance of water and how science and technology work to ensure its future is essential to fostering a culture of conservation and sustainable water management.

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Through education, we can empower the next generation to take a more conscious and proactive approach to protecting this vital resource.

As we look to the future, it is clear that innovation is critical to ensuring our planet's water security, allowing current and future societies to grow in harmony with the environment.

Implementation of innovative solutions based on science, technology and artificial intelligence, efficient use and treatment of water, together with international cooperation strategies, are essential to ensure universal access to water and sanitation.

Only through cooperation and shared commitment can we guarantee that water, the source of life, will become a pillar for building a peaceful and prosperous future for humanity.

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