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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Are you familiar with the hydrological James Bond ratio?

Of the total stock of Earth’s water, only 0.007 percent is on the surface, that amount is easily accessible, not excessively polluted and ready for almost immediate use. That’s what we call the hydrological James Bond ratio, said Csaba Kőrösi, who also spoke about Hungary’s water shortage on World Water Day 2019.

Csaba Kőrösi, Head of the Environmental Sustainability Directorate, Office of the President of the Republic of Hungary revealed the secret of the hydrological James Bond ratio, illustrated in the figure below, in an interview on Hungary’s national public television channel. In the figure, the large drop of water represents the mass of the total amount of water on Earth relative to Earth itself. The drop in the middle represents all the freshwater, while the smallest one corresponds to surface freshwater. That is what we all share, and that is why it is time to take action.

The hydrological James Bond ratio Image: Imagine Creative Consulting

In the interview, Csaba Kőrösi also said that in Hungary, the population has a secure water supply, with significant reserves, but water shortages do occur in agriculture, for example.

“Two years ago, a drought of three weeks caused damage in excess of 100 billion forints. In the Sand Ridge region, for instance, the water table is dropping by 10–15 cm per year, and unless something is done, the region will become a desert within 15–20 years.

So Hungary does have water shortages, and saving water must have its place”

– emphasised the director, adding that as producing clean water requires energy, those who ‘throw away’ water, that is to say don’t save it are also wasting energy.

What’s more, Hungary also has a major pollution problem, so in relation to that it must be kept in mind that a single drop of oil can make up to a thousand litres of water unfit for consumption.

Can the Cape Town water crisis recur?

In the first months of 2018, the eyes of the entire world were trained on Cape Town. South Africa’s second largest city was frighteningly close to reaching Day Zero: the day on which it would have become the first major city in the world to exhaust its entire supply of drinking water.

Water, the source of life

Earth, air, fire and water – these four primordial elements make up our world according to ancient beliefs. Although modern science has left these archaic beliefs behind eons ago, the name “Blue Planet” derives from one of these mythological primordial element.

Water scarcity leading to political conflict

Political tension caused by water shortages was also a feature of the history of the 20th century, and today, there is fighting in a number of zones where the lack of water was one of the initial causes of the conflict.

Major cities that could share the fate of Cape Town

Cape Town’s historic water crisis was a wake-up call for the entire world. Something that had previously been unimaginable happened. If the targets set in the Paris Agreement are not reached, there is reason to fear that many other major cities could suffer a similar fate within a few decades. The example of Cape Town is a timely warning that chronic water shortages are already just around the corner.