The average person does not think twice when he turns on the water for a shower, a drink or to clean his hands. We have all enjoyed access to clean, fresh water for years without a single worry. Unfortunately, this is likely to change in the future. For drought afflicted states like California, that future is arriving rather quickly. Californians have to deal with water restrictions that will likely be extended to more Americans as time progresses. Why? Because water is the “new oil”. It is a phrase that you will likely hear over and over again in the near future. Let’s take a look at why people are calling water the “new oil”.
Why Water Is The “New Oil”
Political pundits like to claim that water is the “new oil” because both are finite resources that serve as the basis for conflicts. In the 20th century, the world’s most important resource was undoubtedly oil. As we march toward the future, water will likely replace oil as the most valued resource simply because it is fundamental to the survival of humanity and we do not have enough of it for our growing population. Eventually, humanity will likely run out of fresh water. When we reach the point where we only have salt water, desalinization will be of the utmost importance. This is a process that takes the salt and various minerals out of salt water to produce potable water. However, the desalinization process has not been perfected. It is quite expensive and takes a significant amount of time to complete.
What Will The Future Look Like?
If humanity fails to limit population growth, wars will inevitably be fought for access to fresh water just like they were fought over oil in the 20th century. However, it is extremely unlikely that countries around the world will institute family planning programs to curb population growth. Engineers broadly agree that humanity will eventually figure out how to fuel vehicles with a substance other than oil. Yet humanity will probably not figure out how to survive without fresh water. Politicians, economists, demographers and just about anyone else “in the know” agrees that access to clean and fresh water will soon become humanity’s most important challenge. This is precisely why water will be treated like oil was in the 20th century.
Humanity’s 21st Century Water Challenge
We are tasked with determining how to make the most efficient use of our existing fresh water resources. Our water must be used in a much more sustainable manner with an eye on posterity. As an example, consider hydrofracking companies that use millions of gallons of water in an effort to secure the natural gas positioned beneath the surface of the earth. Critics argue that this is not a prudent use of our existing water resources. Nor is it prudent to use massive amounts of water to maintain lush green golf courses throughout the year. If we continue our wasteful ways, water could eventually become even more valuable than oil. Such a statement seems bombastic when uttered in the year 2015 yet it could easily come to fruition in the next two decades.