In this lab, you will observe the time progression of industrialization and human development to help you write up a scientific paper that centers on the following:
If current human development does not change, will groundwater sustainability be affected? Explain your observations.
Human Impacts on the Sustainability of Groundwater
Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that is needed for survival and well-being depends either directly or indirectly on the natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, while also helping to fulfill the social and economic requirements of present and future generations.
Planet Earth’s surface is over 70% water, but less than 1% of the water on Earth is considered accessible, usable freshwater for sustaining humans’ and other organisms’ lives. Of the accessible freshwater, approximately 99% is located in aquifers, natural underground water chambers, and other groundwater sources. Unfortunately, humans are depleting the aquifers faster than they can be recharged by the hydrological cycle. Therefore, three quarters of groundwater is considered nonrenewable.
The main reason we using groundwater resources mainly for drinking and irrigation. As a result, this not only decreases an important source of freshwater—it also can cause pollution of that groundwater by saltwater intrusion. The recharge rate of groundwater is further hindered by land clearing and deforestation caused by human development. When land is cleared for human development, more flooding occurs, the transpiration rate (the amount of water that evaporates into the atmosphere from plants) is reduced, and rainwater is inhibited from adequately percolating (penetrating the soil) into the ground to allow for aquifers and groundwater to be recharged.
Figure below shows Saltwater Intrusion:
(Wright & Boorse, 2010)
Forty percent of the world’s food is produced via irrigation. As a result, if the current rate of groundwater usage continues, food production could be drastically reduced worldwide. This reduction in food supply would be detrimental in sustaining the projected worldwide human population of over 10 billion within the next 50 years.
Use the Hydrologic Cycle Figure below to understand the impact of industrialization and human development on ground water over 3 centuries.
(Wright & Boorse, 2010)
The table below shows the impacts:
Wright, R. T., & Boorse, D. F. (2010). Environmental science: Toward a sustainable future. (11th ed.) White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley.