66 percent of the world faces water shortages every year
Friday, April 07, 2017
While it has been known for some time that the world water crisis is among the top three global problems, we now have a more accurate number and percentage of people who are currently facing this problem. The true scale and severity of water shortages around the globe have emerged from a recent study done by the University of Twente in the Netherlands.
According to the The Huffington Post, it was previously believed through earlier studies that an estimate between "1.7 and 3.1 billion people lived with moderate to severe water scarcity for at least a month out of the year."
However, Dr. Arjen Hoekstra and his team of scientists in the Netherlands have created a computer model that is believed to be more precise and comprehensive in its analysis of the water scarcity problem across the globe. This computer model analyzes various variables: climate records, population density, irrigation and industry.
Here are the five facts you need to know about Hoekstra's study and his findings published in the Science Advances Journal.
1. 66 percent of the world population (about 4 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least one month of the year.
This number represents those who live under severe scarcity, while 71 percent (4.3 billion people) live under conditions of moderate to severe scarcity at least one month out of the year.
2. India and China are the two countries with the largest populations of people facing severe water scarcity.
In India, 1 billion people face severe water shortages each year, while 0.9 billion face severe water scarcity in China. The United States — mostly in western and southern states like California, Arizona and Texas — follows close behind with an estimated 130 million people facing severe water scarcity.
3. Severe water scarcity occurs when water consumption is twice as high as resources available.
This reason is why we're seeing severe water scarcity in highly populated regions like India and China.
4. Severe water scarcity levels affect crops and, as a result, economic viability.
Areas with irrigated agriculture are at risk of crop failures when the availability of natural water is low. Some areas have begun to pump so much ground water that we are now facing a new problem, global sea level rises.
Mother Jones republished an article as part of a Climate Desk collaborative that stated, "So much water is being pumped out of the ground worldwide that it is contributing to global sea level rise, a phenomenon tied largely to warming temperatures and climate change." Ground water is a short-term fix that is only adding to global problems.
5. There are ways to combat the growing problem of severe global water scarcity.
While Hoektra's findings may show that our present is bleaker than previously thought, he does believe there are ways to reduce water scarcity.
Among those ideas is relying on rain-fed agriculture and less on irrigated crops, improving the efficiency of the water we do have and sharing the resources that we do have among each other. Of these three options given, the third seems to make the most sense, yet seems to be the most difficult challenge yet.
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