As the demand for water, much of which is used in agriculture, continues to rise, many water-deprived regions of the world are witnessing an increase in social upheaval, violence and human suffering. Of the three billion people projected to be added to the planet over the next half century, most will be born in countries already dealing with severe water shortage. To make matters worse, continuing climate instability and social erosion drives more and more people from small towns and villages around the world into large urban centers where their water usage only becomes more intense.
Studies of world water consumption reveal one key fact: it is humanity’s dietary choices more even than its population growth, that is having the greatest impact on the intensity of its water usage. Today, more than 50 percent of the water consumed worldwide, including both water diverted from rivers and water pumped from underground, is used for irrigating animal fodder. This means that absent a global dietary shift, the growing demand for grain-fed meat from affluent populations around the world will place ever more pressure on our limited fresh water resources well into the future.
Keep in mind: it takes exponentially more water to grow the grain needed to feed an animal designated for human consumption than it would take to produce and consume the same amount of vegetable protein directly. When you add to this the fact that the waste produced by these animals during the course of their “lives” spent in massive factory farming operations fouls existing fresh water resources, you begin to realize the conflict between carnivorism and water stewardship.
Here are a few key facts of water-related human suffering around the globe.
Currently, over 1.2 billion people worldwide are without access to safe drinking water and more than 5 million people each year now die from preventable water-related diseases.
12% of the world population lacks clean drinking water, including 319 million Sub-Saharan Africans, 554 million Asians and 50 million Latin Americans.
Each day on the planet 4,500 children die due to lack of access to clean water.
40% of the world’s population now faces water scarcity. By 2025 this is likely to increase to 66%, or two thirds of the population.
“Into what does the wind resolve itself
when distilled through the pores of the earth?
It resolves itself into water,
from whence all things spring.”