This work represents how our love affair with fossil fuels and plastics are contributing to global warming and climate change. Time is rapidly running out if we are to tackle head-on the biggest threat to humanity and other creatures inhabiting this plant.
The future of fresh water will be full of extremes: Droughts will pose serious challenges to the safety, health, food and water supplies of plants, animals and humans in some regions, and floods will do the same in others.
While droughts can have different causes depending on the area of the world and other natural factors, the majority of scientists have started to link more intense droughts to climate change. As more greenhouse gas emissions are released into the air, causing air temperatures to increase, more moisture evaporates from land and lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. Warmer temperatures also increase evaporation in plant soils, which affects plant life and can reduce rainfall even more.
Drought and soil degradation are already amongst the biggest risks of natural disaster facing the planet.
Water is an essential commodity for human survival. By 2050, the UN predicts, between 4.8 billion and 5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today, while the number of people at risk of floods will increase to 1.6 billion, from 1.2 billion. Conflict and civilisational threats loom unless actions are taken to reduce the increasing stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands and reservoirs.
Emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming. In 2018, 89% of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuels and industry. Coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and responsible for over 0.3C of the 1C increase in global average temperatures – making it the single largest source of global temperature rise.
Ironically, for those in the developed world with easy access to fresh water, water bottles are a major factor in plastic pollution. A million plastic water bottles are purchased across the world every minute of the day. This number is projected to grow a further 20% by 2021. Plastic can either be synthetic or biobased. However, the vast majority is synthetic because of the ease of manufacturing methods involved in the processing of crude oil. It takes around 1.5 million barrels of oil every single year to manufacture the bottles. Plus, more oil is burned transporting the bottles around the globe.