Climate, Pollution and Adaptation
Chapter 10: Conclusion: Moving towards sustainable water futures
The world’s future can primarily be expressed in one word, ‘growth’. Growth can occur in many different ways, including growth in economic prosperity, living standards and scientific knowledge base, which can significantly and positively influence the world’s future. However, growth in human population, energy (carbon) use, compounding issues in urbanisation, high vehicle use and waste generation can lead to negative impacts. Consequently, ‘growth’ should always be associated with the word ‘sustainability’, emphasising that the world’s future requires careful steering. Urbanisation is a common phenomenon all over the world and will adversely impact the water, air and soil environments. Among these, impacts on the water environment are the most prominent, posing threats to the ecosystem and human health. Impacts on the water environment can be described in quantity and quality terms. Quantity impacts such as increase in runoff peak and volume, and a decrease in groundwater recharge have continued for decades and can typically be managed using engineered solutions. This makes quality impacts more threatening. Quality impacts are due to a range of anthropogenic activities such as industrial processes, building construction, vehicle traffic and commercial activities that generate a wide range of pollutants that are introduced into the urban environment. Therefore, managing pollutants generated from anthropogenic sources has become an integral part of sustaining water environments into the future. Strategies for sustaining water environments into the future are challenged by the uncertainties associated with the future climate. A range of scientific evidence suggests that climate change is inevitable.
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