A new study found worrying reports that water scarcity affects 4 billion people between one and two months per year, while it’s a year-round problem for millions of them.
- Out of the 4 billion people, 2 billion of them live in India and China
- The numbers also include around 120 million people living in the U.S., mainly California
- Half a billion people suffer from water scarcity year-round
- The problem is getting worse in the face of a growing population
Researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands conducted a study to compare the amount of “blue water” around the world. This included both underground and surface water that is being used by industry, agriculture, and human households. Unsurprisingly, agriculture demands the most, with households the least, a mere 1 to 4% of the global total.
For the sake of the study, water scarcity was defined as “the depletion of water in a certain area” where and when it’s needed. More specifically, it was measured as the ratio between the blue water footprint and the blue water availability. Their findings showed a worrying rate. Previous studies have underlined that water scarcity is a problem for 1.7 to 3.1 billion people, the new research showed that the number inches closer to 4 billion. That’s more than half of the total population.
According to co-author of the study, Arjen Hoekstra, there are 4 billion people living in areas that experience severe water scarcity for 1 to 2 months per year. Among them, 2 billion are in India and China. They live in locations where water demands cannot match water availability, due to retracting lakes or diminished runoff during certain times of the year. However, 500 million worldwide experience water scarcity throughout the entire year.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) declared that “water crises” are the topmost risk that our planet is currently facing. It’s an essential part of human survival that far too much do not possess. And, it’s often a more pronounced problem because demands are higher in times of great need, and in nations who do not have the funds to acquire it. India and China are the ones taking the brunt of the situation, followed by Bangladesh, some regions in the United States, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Mexico.
However, year-round problems of low water scarcity are encountered in forests in South America, Central Africa, Malayisia-Indonesia, subarctic parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. In addition, the problem is getting worse with time.
Professor Hoekstra stated that the global population is growing and we are faced with changes in consumer products and climate change that further impact water scarcity. This is especially important since the issue is more often found in regions with high population density, in under developed countries.
While this does not mean that we will run out drinking water, it makes harsh implications for the future. Rich nations will find ways to purchase water, but that will leave developing countries behind. More specifically, farmers and industries will be the most affected, and that, in turn, will affect global food resources.
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