7 Reasons We Face a Global Water Crisis

Posted by on August 26, 2017 in Climate Change, Environment, Environmental Hazards with 0 Comments
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Flickr/ Asian Development Bank

By Leah Schleifer – World Resources Institute | EcoWatch

Droughts in Somalia. Water rationing in Rome. Flooding in Jakarta. It doesn’t take a hydrologist to realize that there is a growing global water crisis. Each August, water experts, industry innovators and researchers gather in Stockholm for World Water Week to tackle the planet’s most pressing water issues.

What are they up against this year? Here’s a quick rundown on the growing global water crisis.


1) We’re Changing the Climate, Making Dry Areas Drier and Precipitation More Variable and Extreme

Climate change is warming the planet, making the world’s hottest geographies even more scorching. At the same time, clouds are moving away from the equator toward the poles, due to a climate-change driven phenomenon called Hadley Cell expansion. This deprives equatorial regions like sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central America of life-giving rainwater.

Paradoxically, climate change is also increasing precipitation in other areas, and people who live near rivers and streams have the most to lose. Currently, at least 21 million people worldwide are at risk of river flooding each year. That number could increase to 54 million by 2030. All countries with the greatest exposure to river floods are least developed or developing countries—which makes them even more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. This summer, extreme flooding submerged over a third of Bangladesh, claiming more than 115 lives and affecting 5.7 million citizens.

2) More People + More Money = More Water Demand

It’s a simple equation: As populations increase and incomes grow, so does water demand. The world’s population, now at 7.5 billion, is projected to add 2.3 billion more people by 2050. How can the planet satisfy their thirst? Growing incomes also exacerbate the water problem, because of the water-intensive products—like meat and energy from fossil fuels—that richer populations demand.

3) Groundwater Is Being Depleted

About 30 percent of Earth’s fresh water lies deep underground in aquifers. And it’s extracted daily for farming, drinking and industrial processes—often at dangerously unsustainable rates. Nowhere is this more evident than India, which guzzles more groundwater than any other country. 54 percent of India’s groundwater wells are decreasing, meaning that water is used faster than it’s replenished. Unless patterns shift, in 20 years 60 percent of India’s aquifers will be in critical condition.

Unlike an incoming hurricane or a drained lake, the naked eye cannot see when groundwater reserves in aquifers are declining. Global water supplies are susceptible to this hidden and growing threat.

 

 

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