Number Of Those Exposed To Water Stress ‘Could Double By 2050’
The number of people facing water stress could double by the year 2050 if global warming isn’t kept below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial issues and if population growth in the future is high.
This is according to a new study, published in Earth’s Future and reported on by Carbon Brief, revealing an additional 380 million people could be facing water stress by the middle of the century, compared to the number in 2010.
And even if the Paris Agreement’s temperature target of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees C and even if population growth is low, numbers exposed to water stress could still climb by 50 per cent when compared to 2010.
Water stress is the measurement of the ratio between water use and availability, with increases expected to be concentrated in the MIddle East, North Africa and south and central Asia, places that are already facing significant water stress-related challenges.
Water availability is affected by processes like the amount of rainfall, the rate of evaporation, human management (such as dams, reservoirs and groundwater extraction), and the geology of the land surface.
Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population (some four billion people) already experience water scarcity for at least one month a year.
Water availability is also affected by the actions that different countries take, with shared water resources known as transboundary – such as major rivers that cross through numerous different nations.
Possible drivers of water stress in different parts of the world were explored, such as changes to water availability and consumption at a local level, as well as upstream water availability and consumption.
The latter can be affected by actions of nations upstream and climate change at the same time. Water flow from a water source to places downstream can be affected by climate change but human actions like large-scale water extraction from rivers can also impact how much water will pass from one country to another.
It’s being predicted that the next big shared global crisis will be water stress and scarcity, so taking action now is an absolute must if this precious resource is to be safeguarded for future generations.
Businesses can start doing their bit immediately by developing a sustainable water strategy for their operations, making sure they’re not wasting any water and taking advantage of the different water-saving solutions that exist to help reduce reliance on mains water supplies.
The first step you need to take is to further your understanding of your water consumption, use and discharge, as well as the sources you’re using to access water in the first place. Doing so will allow you to set targets for your company and prioritise efficiency gains in this respect. If you’d like to find out more about what can be achieved, get in touch with us today.