Understanding the links between water and climate change

Do you view climate change and water scarcity as two different issues? You wouldn’t be the only one. That is why for World Water Week, the water industry is talking about how water can help build resilient communities faster. Not only that but also to see how water can be used in the fight against climate change. Understanding how water is linked to climate change can be difficult – beyond the relatively obvious flooding and rising sea levels. Water has far more input in climate change than we may realise, and not all of its involvement is destructive. Take a look at how water links to all areas of society and climate change.

How water is linked to poverty 

In a recent blog, we quickly touched upon how water can provide many opportunities for communities. 1 in 3 people across the world lives without access to clean water. Those who live without access to water also tend to live in poorer nations. This isn’t a coincidence. 

When people have access to clean water, their risk of disease is dramatically reduced. It also increases job opportunities and brings wealth to the local economy. These small things that water provides slowly improve circumstances for those who live below the poverty line. But it’s important to highlight that these areas are not just in rural locations without water infrastructure. 

Poverty exists in all nations, even here in the UK. UK law protects those who struggle to pay their water bills, but the same cannot be said for other nations. In the US, if you don’t pay your water bill, it is shut off. Your access is restricted, and you may find yourself showering at work or school. This can have the reverse effect of providing water. Increasing risk of disease and minimising job opportunities for individuals.  

When you look at water and how it is linked to poverty, it can abolish it and create it. It all depends on what side of the coin you are on. It’s why for World Water Week, the focus on water is to help build resilient communities to prevent millions falling below the poverty line in their respective countries. 

World Water Week and how water is linked to climate change 

Flood risks across the world are increasing as sea levels rise. We’ve seen it here in the UK. The effects of climate change on water are clear, but how else is water linked? In fact, water can be quite the saviour when it comes to helping reverse the effects of climate change. 

While millions of trees are being planted to reduce carbon and boost oxygen in the atmosphere – water can help too. However, if we don’t protect water ecosystems, their usefulness to fight climate change will be dramatically reduced. 

Experts believe that anywhere from 50%-80% of the planet’s oxygen comes from the ocean. Even more, if you include freshwater resources. Algae, phytoplankton, and even animals such as dolphins and whales can help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The term ‘whale carbon’ has been adopted to describe the process where whales store carbon. But remember, they need a clean ocean to survive. Not only that, they need to be protected against whaling.  

How water is linked to future innovation 

We’ve already mentioned the need for flood defences across the world. As sea levels rise, an increased risk of flooding happens in areas that previously have never experienced the threat. Older cities that were never considered at risk of flooding now see catastrophic destruction as they don’t have the infrastructure to protect themselves against floods. It means that many new cities across the world are being considered for flood defences and any other destructions that could come with water as time moves on. 

The truth is, the global population is expected to dramatically rise, which means producing more with less has never been more essential, including water. Large quantities of rainfall cause flash flooding, but this doesn’t mean there is an endless supply of water for residents. Water companies will struggle to capture it all and distribute it. It’s almost too much at once. Which is how water is shaping innovation for new cities. The aim is to collect and store more rain, so the risk of flooding is reduced, and to help improve water scarcity for residents.

World Water Week

The truth is, water is linked to climate change in many ways. But it doesn’t have to arrive as the consequence of melting ice caps and extreme flooding. It can spark innovation for future communities, bring new life, health and wealth to existing ones, and of course, assist in reversing a lot of climate change issues. It’s why we push so hard to protect our waterways, supply and ecosystems. 

It’s all about creating small effective habits today that will last generations. Ensuring there’s adequate supply all year round by reducing consumption. Clearing up local towns and lakes from litter to protect those living in our waters. Also being mindful of what goes down our drains to reduce carbon emissions on filtering processes. It’s important to remember that the small actions in our home can help fight climate change and more. 

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